Deep Dives

30 Years of SEL Research: What’s New, and What’s Next?

February 15, 2024
Kim Villard
30 Years of SEL Research: What’s New, and What’s Next?

This year, we’re celebrating 30 years of social and emotional learning (SEL)! As we honor three decades of impactful SEL work in research, policy, and practice, we also look to what’s new and what’s next. USC senior and CASEL intern Kim Villard sat down with prominent researchers Drs. Christina Cipriano, Mark Greenberg, and Joseph Durlak to discuss their latest work and the future of SEL research.

As a college senior preparing to enter the world of adulthood, I think a lot about the skills my peers and I will need to navigate our careers and lives successfully. Academic knowledge is critical, but so are skills like empathy, curiosity, creativity, and decision-making. I started to wonder: How can school policies, practices, and curriculums help cultivate these holistic skills?

This question led me to the research on SEL—hundreds of studies spanning three decades. I started with the most recent, including 2023 reports from Drs. Christina Cipriano, Mark Greenberg, and Joseph Durlak.

As we head into the next three decades of SEL research (and beyond), I spoke with the three researchers about their SEL journeys, their most significant findings, and what researchers still need to know about SEL.

Here’s what they said.

How did you get into SEL research?

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What was the most interesting or surprising finding from your most recent work?

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Dr. Mark Greenberg on Evidence for Social Emotional Learning in Schools 

Dr. Joseph Durlak on What we know, and what we need to find out about universal, school-based social and emotional learning programs for adolescents: A review of meta-analyses and directions for future research

Dr. Christina Cipriano on The State of the Evidence for Social and Emotional Learning: A Contemporary Meta-Analysis of Universal School-Based Interventions

What would you say to future SEL researchers? Are there any gaps in the literature on SEL you would like to see others explore?

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Why is the “emotion” component of social and emotional learning important?

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If you could have a dinner party with anyone (real or fictional) who has excellent social and emotional skills, who would you invite and why?

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The views in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CASEL.

Kim Villard is a senior at the University of Southern California in the interdisciplinary major program. She hopes to earn her Ph.D. in education.

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