Effectiveness of school-based universal social, emotional, and behavioral programs: Do they enhance students’ development in the area of skill, behavior, and adjustment?

Sklad, M., Diekstra, R., Ritter, M. D., Ben, J., & Gravesteijn, C. (2012). Effectiveness of school‐based universal social, emotional, and behavioral programs: Do they enhance students’ development in the area of skill, behavior, and adjustment?. Psychology in the Schools49(9), 892-909.


To answer the question of whether teaching social and emotional skills to foster social–emotional development can help schools extend their role beyond the transfer of knowledge, the authors conducted a meta-analytical review of 75 recently published studies that reported the effects of universal, school-based social, emotional, and/or behavioral (SEB) programs. The analyzed interventions had a variety of intended outcomes, but the increase in social skills and decrease in antisocial behavior were most often reported. Although considerable differences in efficacy exist, the analysis demonstrated that overall beneficial effects on all seven major categories of outcomes occurred: social skills, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, positive self-image, academic achievement, mental health, and prosocial behavior. Generally, immediate effects were stronger than delayed effects, with the exception of substance abuse, which showed a sleeper effect. Limitations of the analysis and moderators of the effectiveness of SEB programs in schools are discussed in the final section of the article.


Associations between adverse childhood experiences, student-teacher relationships, and non-medical use of prescription medications among adolescents

Forster, M., Gower, A.L., Borowsky, I.W. and McMorris, B.J., 2017. Associations between adverse childhood experiences, student-teacher relationships, and non-medical use of prescription medications among adolescents. Addictive behaviors68, pp.30-34.



Few studies have investigated associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and nonmedical use of prescription medication (NMUPM) in population-based samples of adolescents, and even fewer have examined whether promotive factors might buffer these effects. The present study assesses the direct effects of ACE and positive student-teacher relationships on NUMPD and whether positive student-teacher relationships moderate this association.


Data were from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS), an in-school survey administered every three years to students throughout Minnesota. The analytic sample (n = 104,332) was comprised of 8th, 9th, and 11th graders.


Approximately 3% of students acknowledged past year NMUPM, the majority of whom reported at least one ACE. The most frequently used prescription drug was Ritalin/ADHD medications (1.71%) followed by opiate-based painkillers (1.67%), tranquilizers (0.92%), and stimulants (0.75%). Students who reported any use tended to use more than one medication. For every additional ACE, there was a 56%, 51%, 47%, and 52% increase in the odds of past year stimulant use, ADHD medication, pain reliever, and tranquilizer use, respectively. The estimated rate of the number of prescription drugs used increased by 62% for every additional ACE. Positive student- teacher relationships buffered the association between ACE and NMUPD, especially at higher levels of ACEs.


Our findings have important implications for prevention work. Training educators to recognize trauma symptomology and cultivating strong student-teacher relationships are important considerations for future school-based substance use prevention initiatives.


The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development82(1), 405-432.


This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of 4 recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.


Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects

Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School‐Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta‐Analysis of Follow‐Up Effects. Child Development88(4), 1156-1171.


This meta-analysis reviewed 82 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions involving 97,406 kindergarten to high school students (Mage = 11.09 years; mean percent low socioeconomic status = 41.1; mean percent students of color = 45.9). Thirty-eight interventions took place outside the United States. Follow-up outcomes (collected 6 months to 18 years postintervention) demonstrate SEL's enhancement of positive youth development. Participants fared significantly better than controls in social-emotional skills, attitudes, and indicators of well-being. Benefits were similar regardless of students’ race, socioeconomic background, or school location. Postintervention social-emotional skill development was the strongest predictor of well-being at follow-up. Infrequently assessed but notable outcomes (e.g., graduation and safe sexual behaviors) illustrate SEL's improvement of critical aspects of students’ developmental trajectories.


Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial.

Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental psychology51(1), 52.


The authors hypothesized that a social and emotional learning (SEL) program involving mindfulness and caring for others, designed for elementary school students, would enhance cognitive control, reduce stress, promote well-being and prosociality, and produce positive school outcomes. To test this hypothesis, 4 classes of combined 4th and 5th graders (N = 99) were randomly assigned to receive the SEL with mindfulness program versus a regular social responsibility program. Measures assessed executive functions (EFs), stress physiology via salivary cortisol, well-being (self-reports), prosociality and peer acceptance (peer reports), and math grades. Relative to children in the social responsibility program, children who received the SEL program with mindfulness (a) improved more in their cognitive control and stress physiology; (b) reported greater empathy, perspective-taking, emotional control, optimism, school self-concept, and mindfulness, (c) showed greater decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression and peer-rated aggression, (d) were rated by peers as more prosocial, and (e) increased in peer acceptance (or sociometric popularity). The results of this investigation suggest the promise of this SEL intervention and address a lacuna in the scientific literature—identifying strategies not only to ameliorate children’s problems but also to cultivate their well-being and thriving. Directions for future research are discussed.


Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students

Meiklejohn, J., Phillips, C., Freedman, M. L., Griffin, M. L., Biegel, G., Roach, A., ... & Isberg, R. (2012). Integrating mindfulness training into K-12 education: Fostering the resilience of teachers and students. Mindfulness3(4), 291-307. (DOI 10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5)


Over the past decade, training in mindfulness-the intentional cultivation of moment-by-moment non-judgmental focused attention and awareness-has spread from its initial western applications in medicine to other fields, including education. This paper reviews research and curricula pertaining to the integration of mindfulness training into K-12 education, both indirectly by training teachers and through direct teaching of students. Research on the neurobiology of mindfulness in adults suggests that sustained mindfulness practice can enhance attentional and emotional self-regulation and promote flexibility, pointing toward significant potential benefits for both teachers and students. Early research results on three illustrative mindfulness-based teacher training initiatives suggest that personal training in mindfulness skills can increase teachers' sense of well-being and teaching self-efficacy, as well as their ability to manage classroom behavior and establish and maintain supportive relationships with students. Since 2005, 14 studies of programs that directly train students in mindfulness have collectively demonstrated a range of cognitive, social, and psychological benefits to both elementary (six studies) and high school (eight studies) students. These include improvements in working memory, attention, academic skills, social skills, emotional regulation, and self-esteem, as well as self-reported improvements in mood and decreases in anxiety, stress, and fatigue. The educational goals, target population, and core features of ten established mindfulness-based curricula are described. Finally, the need for more rigorous scientific evidence of the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions in K-12 education is discussed, along with suggestions of specific process, outcome, and research-design questions remaining to be answered.

For those who wish a more detailed discussion of the themes of this summary article, see the recent online publication of “Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students” in the Journal of Mindfulness (DOI 10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5) or you may download the pdf from the website of one of the author’s at www.stillquietplace.com. John H. Meiklejohn  j.johnmeiklejohn@comcast.net.