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A National Scan of Social and Emotional Learning in Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States

Fri, April 28, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Fourth Floor, Texas Ballroom Salon E


The primary objective of this research was to determine the degree to which social and emotional learning (SEL) content is incorporated into required coursework in pre-service teacher education programs in the US.

Theoretical Perspective
What are the courses and experiences that pre-service teacher candidates need to equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary for promoting the success of their students in diverse classrooms in the 21st century? A growing body of evidence has documented how students’ academic and life success are bolstered when attention is given to the social and emotional dimensions of teaching (Durlak et al., 2011; 2015). Indeed, rrecent years have witnessed increased theoretical and empirical attention to the school-based promotion of SEL, as educators, parents, and policymakers seek solutions to contemporary problems such as declining motivation and achievement, escalating dropout rates, and increasing school bullying. Yet, little is known about the degree to which pre-service teacher education programs incorporate SEL into coursework.

Method / Data Sources
After compiling a list of all colleges of education in the U.S. in Institutions of Higher Education (N = 1,455), we randomly selected 30% of all public or private institutions in each state, stratified by the proportion of public to private institutions. This resulted in a final sample of 304 Colleges of Education (149 public, 155 private; 280 elementary school programs, 126 middle school programs, 277 secondary, and 47 Pre-K to elementary school programs). A coding guide was developed to analyze course descriptions on each institution’s website as either related or not related to SEL using the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) framework for SEL ( Required coursework were coded for SEL content along three dimensions, 1) promotion of teachers’ social and emotional competence (SEC; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009), 2) promotion of students’ SEC and, 3) promotion of a safe and supportive learning environment. In total, course descriptions for 3,916 courses were coded, with an average of 13 courses coded per school. The percent of inter-rater agreement and kappa statistics were 73.3% and 0.60, respectively.

Results / Scholarly Significance
Results indicated a general paucity of SEL content in required coursework for pre-service teacher education in the US. With regard to the promotion of teacher candidates’ SEC, of the five core dimensions, social awareness (16.78%) and responsible decision-making (10.9%) were the most highly addressed dimensions in the courses coded, and self-management (0.43%), self-awareness (2.27%), and relationship skills (4.88%) were the least addressed. Similarly, our analyses at the course level indicated for the five dimensions of the promotion of students’ SEC, very few of the 3,916 courses coded addressed any of the five core dimensions. Relationship skills (1.30%) were addressed the most, followed by responsible decision-making (0.66%) and self-management (0.61%), self-awareness (0.15%), and social awareness (0.18%). Given the increasing number of students experiencing difficulties, it is critical that pre-service teacher education programs require coursework that includes SEL content, so that teachers are prepared to provide their students with the skills required for success in school and in life.


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