Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) is a US programme in which all children receive breakfast while teachers take attendance, check homework, and prepare for the day. In a recent post by Child Trends’ Brandon Stratford and Michael Bradley, the authors described a study they did regarding the successes and challenges of implementing the Breakfast in the Classroom programme, where they found an important and unexpected finding: BIC provided opportunities for students to develop their social-emotional learning skills.
In the spring of 2018, Child Trends administered a survey that was completed by 368 individuals working in school districts in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas. The survey covered topics ranging from respondents’ attitudes before starting BIC to the barriers and successes they experienced. Child Trends also conducted site visits in the spring and autumn of 2018 in three school districts, visiting six schools altogether, and carrying out in-depth interviews.
Findings showed that BIC time allows students to socialise with peers, develop positive relations with school staff, and also take on responsibilities and manage frustrations that come with everyday tasks like cleaning spills. It provided opportunities for staff to model caring and empathy during students’ informal conversations. The authors related these findings to the social-emotional learning competencies identified by CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) as necessary for social, emotional, and academic development.
Source:Successes and Challenges Among Schools Receiving Support from Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (2019) Child Trends
The MindOut programme is a social-emotional learning programme, developed in Ireland, and based on CASEL’s five core competencies for social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and responsible decision-making. A new article by Katherine Dowling and colleagues in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence reports the results of a cluster-randomised controlled trial of the programme.
The study took place in 34 secondary schools in Ireland (17
intervention, 17 control) with high levels of disadvantage (at least 70% of pupils
classified as educationally disadvantaged). Teachers from the intervention
schools took part in a one-day training session, and then delivered the MindOut
programme over 13 weekly sessions. A total of 675 pupils (ages 15-18) completed
a baseline assessment, with 497 pupils remaining in the study
post-intervention. A range of measures were used to evaluate the impact on social-emotional
skills, mental health and well-being and academic outcomes.
Results showed that for some social and emotional skills,
there were significant improvements for intervention pupils, including the use
of more positive coping strategies and increased social support coping. On
mental health and well-being, the intervention significantly reduced levels of
stress and depressive symptoms. However, there was no effect on academic
outcomes (pupils’ achievement motivation as rated by teachers, and attitudes
Source: A cluster
randomized-controlled trial of the MindOut social and emotional learning program
for disadvantaged post-primary school students (April 2019), Journal of Youth and Adolescence
A study published in Contemporary Educational Psychology looks at the benefits of a school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) intervention in relation to academic achievement by examining how the four main components that underlie the SEL model (children’s social-emotional competence, school connectedness, mental health problems and academic achievement) interact over time.
Margarita Panayiotou and colleagues from Manchester
Institute of Education used data drawn from a major cluster randomised trial of
the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum to present a
three-wave (annual assessment, T1, T2, T3) longitudinal sample. The sample
included 1,626 pupils from 45 primary schools in north-west England. They
examined the relationship over time between social-emotional competence (T1),
school connectedness (T2), mental health difficulties (T2), and academic achievement
(T3), and whether exposure to an SEL intervention (in this case PATHS versus
usual provision) had any effect on these relationships.
Social-emotional competence at T1 had a positive influence
on school connectedness and mental health difficulties at T2. However, SEL was
only a significant predictor and mediator of academic achievement at T3 after
controlling for gender and prior academic performance. Pupils who had greater
social-emotional competence at T1 were reported to experience fewer mental
health difficulties at T2, and this in turn predicted higher academic achievement
at T3 (p<0.01). However, greater connectedness to school at T2 did not
predict later academic achievement. Intervention exposure did not appear to
influence these relationships.
empirical basis for linking social and emotional learning to academic
performance (January 2019). Contemporary
Educational Psychology, Volume 56
A study conducted by Neil Humphrey and colleagues, published in Public Health Research, reports on the findings of a randomised controlled trial of the social and emotional learning intervention, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS).
PATHS aims to promote children’s social skills via a taught curriculum, which is delivered by the class teacher. A total of 5,218 children in Years 3–5 (ages 7–9) from 45 primary schools in Greater Manchester participated in the trial. Schools were randomly allocated to deliver PATHS for two years or to continue as normal.
The findings of the study suggest that the impact of PATHS was modest and limited. Immediately after the intervention, there was tentative evidence that PATHS made a small improvement on children’s social skills (effect size = +0.09) as assessed by the Social Skills Improvement System. A small improvement in children’s psychological well-being (effect size = +0.07) was also found immediately after the intervention. However, there were no differences between children from PATHS and control schools for any outcomes at the 12- or 24-month post-intervention follow-ups.
Source: The PATHS curriculum for promoting social and emotional well-being among children aged 7–9 years: a cluster RCT. Public Health Research 6 (10).
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows US states to use federal funding to adopt research-proven programmes to improve pupil achievement. This includes social-emotional learning (SEL) programmes. To offer some guidance and inform decision makers, RAND has released a report, Social and emotional learning interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which reviews recent evidence on these programmes. The report discusses how ESSA supports SEL programmes and outlines the programmes that meet the ESSA evidence standards.
Specifically, authors found 60 SEL programmes that met strong, moderate, or promising evidence standards in grades K-12 (Years 1 to 13). Most were evaluated at the primary school level in urban communities with minority populations. A second report describes these programmes and the research that supports them in detail.
Source: Social and emotional learning interventions under the Every Student Succeeds Act: evidence review (2017), RAND Corporation, RR-2133-WF
The authors present research from various journal articles, research briefs, policy guides and other sources. Key findings were as follows:
Supportive relationships, engagement, safety, cultural competence and responsiveness and academic challenge and high expectations create positive school climates that can help build social and emotional competence.
The relationship between positive school climate and SEL is interactive and co-influential, occurs in all settings and pupil-teacher-staff interactions and influences pupils and teachers directly and indirectly.
Rigorous evaluations of school climate and SEL approaches have provided some direct evidence that one can improve the other.
The authors say that the research and practice communities could benefit from greater clarity and alignment in definitions, goals, messaging and measurement of SEL and school climate and understanding of how each one can complement the other.
Source: School climate and social and emotional learning: the integration of two approaches. (January 2018), Edna Bennet Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University