Why is Social, Emotional

and Character Development Important?

Skills such as growth mindset (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007), sense of belonging (Allen, Kern, & Vella-Broderick, 2016a; Allen, Vella-Broderick, & Walters, 2016b), and grit (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009) have been shown to correlate to student grades, scores on achievement tests, attendance and other academic outcomes.

“Most Americans will tell you that character education is a good idea. According to pollsters, 90% of us want schools to teach core moral values.”
Source: A Cry for Character: How a Group of Students Cleaned up Their Rowdy School and Spawned a Wildfire Antidote to the Columbine Effect, Prentice Hall (Paramus, NJ) by Dary Matera, 2001, p. 191.

2018 SECD Trends and Facts Sheet

(Click on icon for research report)

SECD Skills for the 21st Century Child


“Children’s capacity to achieve goals, work effectively with others and manage emotions will be essential to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Social and emotional education or character development (German: “Bildung”) has always been one of the central roles of schools. Social and emotional skills — such as perseverance, self-control or agreeableness — are key ingredients for individuals and societies to prosper. Individuals who persevere and work hard are more likely to succeed in a highly dynamic and skill-driven labor market. Those who work hard to meet goals are more likely to follow healthier lifestyles and remain fit. Individuals who are capable of managing their emotions and adapting to change are more likely to cope with job loss, family disintegration or crime.”

Source: OECD (2015), Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Benefits of SECD Skills Training


A landmark research into the impact of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement.

Source: 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 Development, Volume 82 (1), Pages 405–432

SECD and The Habits of Success

Habits of Success “collectively facilitate goal-directed effort (e.g., grit, self-control, growth mindset), healthy social relationships (e.g., gratitude, emotional intelligence, social belonging), and sound judgment and decision making (e.g., curiosity, open-mindedness). Longitudinal research has confirmed such qualities powerfully predict academic, economic, social, psychological, and physical well-being.”

Source: Almlund, Duckworth, Heckman, & Kautz, 2011; Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman, & ter Weel, 2008; Farrington et al., 2012; Jackson, Connolly, Garrison, Levin, & Connolly, 2015; Moffitt et al., 2011; Naemi et al., 2012; Yeager & Walton, 2011; Duckworth and Yeager, 2015.


Long Lasting Benefits of SECD


A follow up meta-analysis in 2017 reviewed 82 school‐based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions involving 97,406 kindergarten to high school students and assessed the effects 6 months to 18 years after the SEL intervention program. The study shows that 3.5 years after their last SEL intervention, students fared an average of 13 percentile points better academically than their peers in control groups, based on 8 studies that measure academics. Additionally, researchers saw a reduction in problem behaviors, emotional distress, and drug use for students with SEL exposure.

Source: 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 Development, Volume 88 (4)