The Student Perspective

SEL is shown to be — and endorsed as — beneficial to children from diverse national, cultural, and linguistic contexts, especially pertinent given changing American demographics. Students agree: SEL has important benefits and schools should place greater emphasis on developing these skills. In-depth interviews with fifteen middle and high school students from diverse backgrounds reveal that students find CASEL’s five social and emotional competencies valuable, particularly because of the social and career benefits.

A Better In-School Experience

The majority of students say that teachers should spend more time helping students develop these skills, as SEL was not a consistent part of their schooling. If schools placed a great emphasis on developing students social and emotional skills — which they want — students would expect to do better academically and the school climate would be more conducive to learning. As one eighth grade girl says, “If students have better social and emotional skills, then they will probably get better grades. They would realize that school is important.”

Improved Relationships with Others

When provided with definitions for CASEL’s five social and emotional skills, students easily explained how these skills would help students to get along better with each other — which would in turn support success in school and work. one twelfth grade boy explains, “Having social and emotional skills will prevent a lot of stress-related incidences that happen in workplaces and it will help you enjoy your job. If you get mad at your job, you just don’t want to be there and it will get worse every day. It would help you focus on your work better and rise to a promotion.”

Long-Term Educational Benefits

Some students volunteer that social and emotional skills would help them stay in school by making school more enjoyable and helping them to better manage their frustrations. Because intrapersonal skills help develop a sense of identity and purpose, students believe these skills will give them the direction they need to succeed in college and in career. one seventh grade girl explains, “Learning about yourself as a person is important so that you have an idea about what you want to do when you are older. When you know who you are, what you want to do, and who you want to be, then you can know how to get there.”