Vol. 8, Issue 2, November 2016

Special issue: SEL Training, Intervention and Research Worldwide
Guest editors: Maurice J. Elias and Chyrse Hatzichristou

  1. Teachers’ Voices on Social Emotional Learning: Identifying the conditions that make implementation possible
    Lorea Martínez
    pp. 6 - 24
    There is increasing evidence that addressing children’s social and emotional needs has a positive impact on students’ performance, their attitudes about school and the relationships that take place in educational settings. This study is focused on identifying the conditions that support teachers’ development and implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs and practices. Using a practitioner-driven methodology, action research, the staff of a high performing charter school in a disadvantaged urban community in California (United States) engaged in an inductive process of reflection and action to address students’ social and emotional needs. The findings in this research highlight the positive impact that implementation of a school-designed SEL intervention had on students, and on teachers’ practices. Teachers’ commitment was necessary to ensure initial engagement, while curricular and organizational resources were needed to maintain implementation in the long term.

  2. Predictors of Rater Bias in the Assessment of Social-Emotional Competence
    Valerie B. Shapiro, B. K. Elizabeth Kim, Sarah Accomazzo and Joe N. Roscoe
    pp. 25 - 44
    The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment Mini (DESSA-Mini) (LeBuffe, Shapiro, & Naglieri, 2014) efficiently monitors the growth of Social-Emotional Competence (SEC) in the routine implementation of Social Emotional Learning programs. The DESSA-Mini is used to assess approximately half a million children around the world. Since behavior rating scales can have ‘rater bias’, this paper examines rater characteristics that contribute to DESSA-Mini ratings. Rater characteristics and DESSA-Mini ratings were collected from elementary school classroom teachers (n=72) implementing TOOLBOX in a racially/ethnically diverse California school district. Teachers rated 1,676 students, who scored similarly to a national reference group. Multilevel modeling analysis showed that only 16% of variance in DESSA-mini ratings was attributable to raters. Relationships between teacher characteristics and ratings were estimated to examine rater variance. Collectively, four characteristics of teachers (perceived barriers to student learning, sense of their ‘typical’ student’s level of SEC, anticipation of SEL program implementation challenges, and intentions to fully implement a newly adopted SEL program) accounted for bias in teacher-generated DESSA scores, leaving only 10% of the variance unexplained. Identified sources of ‘rater bias’ can be controlled for in research and addressed through thoughtful program selection, training, and implementation.

  3. Promoting Social and Emotional Competencies among Young Children in Croatia with Preschool PATHS.
    Josipa Mihic, Miranda Novak, Josipa Basic and Robert L. Nix
    pp. 45 - 59
    Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) is an evidence-based universal prevention program focused on promoting children’s social and emotional competencies and reducing the likelihood of behaviour problems and negative relationships with peers and teachers. This paper examines changes in the social and emotional competencies of the first children to participate in Preschool PATHS in Croatia. This study included 164 children, ages 3-6, in 12 preschool classrooms in three cities across Croatia, who participated in the classroom-based Preschool PATHS curriculum. At the beginning and end of the preschool year, teachers completed well-validated and reliable assessments of social and emotional competencies on each child. Hierarchical linear models revealed statistically significant and substantial improvements in prosocial behaviour, emotion regulation, emotion symptoms, peer problems, relational aggression, conduct problems, and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour. Study findings reveal significant changes in children’s social and emotional competencies during preschool. This time may present a unique opportunity to buttress children’s skills and improve long-term school success through the implementation of a rigorous empirically-validated prevention program such as Preschool PATHS.

  4. The Lions Quest Program in Turkey: Teachers’ Views and Classroom Practices.
    Mine Gol-Guven
    pp. 60 - 69
    This is a pilot study to explore the classroom implementation of the Lions Quest Program in Turkey. Teachers of first through eighth grades at two elementary schools who applied the program were interviewed about the program and their classroom practices while they were also observed and their classrooms were also observed. Considerable program implementation differences were found within and between the schools. Three main issues were raised in the interviews, namely that the teachers were not clear about whether social emotional learning (SEL) skills should be taught to students as a separate lesson or not; they seemed to doubt whether school personnel should be responsible for SEL implementation; and although they had positive views of the implementation, they underlined that students’ social and emotional wellbeing is dependent on family background and the developing maturity of the child. In conclusion, the teachers expressed positive views about the Lions Quest Program, yet lacked strong opinions about when, where, and by whom the program needed to be included in the curriculum. Limitations, implementation challenges, and implications for SEL in the Turkish context were also identified.

  5. Warming the Emotional Climate of the Classroom: Can Teachers’ Social-Emotional Skills Change?
    Shane T. Harvey, Ian M. Evans, Rhys V. J. Hill, Annette Henricksen & David Bimler
    pp. 70-87
    Emotional skills underpin what teachers do. However, relatively few studies have investigated whether these skills can be formally learnt by teachers and the benefits enhancing teachers’ social-emotional skills may have on students. The current research aimed to develop an intervention to improve teachers’ social-emotional skills in the classroom and to assess changes in teachers’ emotional teaching practices and their emotional awareness in the classroom, as well as changes in students’ social-emotional behavior in relation to changes their teachers may have made. Twenty-seven teachers of Year 3-8 (8-13 year old) students participated in an emotional skills intervention, which took place over three months. The findings yielded mixed results. In line with predictions, decreases in teachers’ undesirable relating and setting limits were found. However, no relationships between teacher changes and students’ pro-social behavior and emotion were found. However, students of teachers who improved compared to those who did not on observed emotional practices, reported significant differences in their teachers’ leadership, helpfulness/friendliness, understanding, student responsibility/freedom, student admonishing and strictness.
  6. Mainland Chinese primary and middle-school students’ social and emotional wellbeing.
    Helen Askell-Williams, Grace Skrzypiec, Yan Jin and Larry Owens
    pp. 88-104
    Educators in mainland China are increasingly concerned about promoting school students’ social and emotional wellbeing. However, there has been little exchange of research between China and western countries about this topic. For example, questionnaires developed in the west have not been generally available to mainland Chinese researchers. We translated three existing wellbeing questionnaires into simplified Chinese characters and administered the questionnaires to 2756 students aged 10 to 15 attending 16 schools in Beijing. Results showed that students generally reported positive wellbeing, with only small proportions of students indicating languishing mental health. Comparisons between Chinese and Australian students of similar ages indicated that the Chinese students reported slightly higher wellbeing scores. However, as students in both countries grew older, their wellbeing scores became significantly lower. This study provides foundational information to underpin future work in Beijing schools to promote students’ social and emotional wellbeing.

  7. Social and emotional learning in the Greek educational system: An Ithaca journey.
    Chryse Hatzichristou and Panayiotis G. Lianos
    pp. 105-127
    This article portrays the ongoing and ever-expanding journey of the Center for Research and Practice of School Psychology (CRPSP) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Based on an integrative approach to school community well-being that includes positive psychology perspectives and systems interventions, all activities of the Center focus on a social and emotional learning (SEL) framework that emphasizes strengths and contextual protective factors for members of the school community and other educational settings. Special attention is given to the implementation of SEL prevention programs in times of crisis and economic recession. Furthermore, the incorporation of SEL framework into the general education curriculum as well as in the preparation of psychologists and teachers at undergraduate and graduate level is presented. The role of SEL in building evidence-based interventions is discussed under the scope of multicultural and transnational considerations.

    Book Reviews