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SEL Field Building

Studies that aim to advance the field of social emotional learning.

Our SEL Field-Building research focuses on three main areas: SEL Literature, SEL Assessment, and Student-Led SEL.

SEL Literature: A Contemporary Meta-Analysis of Universal School-Based SEL Interventions (K-12)

Funding Source: Oak Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Team Members: Christina Cipriano, Lauren Naples, Almut Zieher, Joseph Durlak (Loyola University Chicago), Melissa Funaro (Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University), Abigail Eveleigh, Michael J. Strambler (The Consultation Center, Yale University), Jason Chow (The College of Education, University of Maryland), Annette Ponnock, Michael F. McCarthy (School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester)

This systematic review and meta-analysis provides an update of the evidence base for universal school-based (USB) social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. First, we describe how significant developments in the operational definition of SEL, implementation science, and meta-analytic methodologies necessitate an updated review. Next, we will execute a fully replicable cumulative meta-analysis of USB SEL interventions, in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) standards, using the most rigorous and contemporary methodological practices available in educational and psychological science. Lastly, we will discuss findings and implications of the empirical evidence base for SEL as it informs current and future SEL policy and practice to promote evidence-based practice and data-driven decision-making. Access the study in Child Development.

SEL Literature: A Systematic Review of Intersectional Student Identities Representation in Universal SEL Interventions

Funding Source: Oak Foundation

Team Members: Christina Cipriano, Gabrielle Schlichtmann (EdTogether), Lauren Naples, Abigail Eveleigh, Colleen Cassidy, Amanda Cook (EdTogether)

To support the generalizability of USB SEL interventions at the intersection of student disability and race, a systematic review was conducted to update the current state of evidence available for elementary school USB SEL interventions and their intersectional identities within. This project is pre-registered with Open Science Framework.


  • Cipriano, C., Naples, L.H., Eveleigh, A., Funaro, M., Cook, A., Cassidy, C., & Schlichtmann, G. (Under Review). A Systematic Review of Student Disability and Race Representation in Universal School-Based SEL Interventions for Elementary School Students, Review of Educational Research

SEL Literature: Review of the Development of Cognitive Reappraisal in Early Childhood through Adolescence

Funding Source: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Team Members: Cynthia Willner, Jessica Hoffmann, Craig Bailey, Alexandra Harrison,Beatris Garcia, Zi Jia Ng, Chris Cipriano, & Marc Brackett

Cognitive reappraisal is an important emotion regulation strategy that shows considerable developmental change in its use and effectiveness from early childhood through adolescence. In this project, we have systematically reviewed the literature on cognitive reappraisal in early childhood through adolescence. We aimed to answer two questions: (1) at what age do children begin to effectively use cognitive reappraisal to regulate their emotions, and (2) how does the use and effectiveness of cognitive reappraisal change from early childhood through adolescence? The answers to these questions can inform practitioners’ efforts to support the age-appropriate use of cognitive reappraisal as an emotion regulation strategy in students across all grade levels.

SEL Literature: A Review of Emotion Regulation Assessments for Use in Schools

Funding Source: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Team Members: Zi Jia Ng, Cynthia Willner, Craig Bailey, Jessica Hoffmann, Chris Cipriano

To date, only one review of ER assessment in children and adolescents has been published (Adrian, Zeman, & Veits, 2011). While it provided valuable information on the different methodologies used to study ER, it focused on measures utilized in research settings and did not address their practicality for use in schools. The aim of this qualitative review is to examine the availability, operationalization, feasibility, psychometric quality, and utility of currently available ER assessments for use in schools, and in turn illuminate gaps in the ER assessments that are available to educators. This paper is intended to serve both as an overview and as a call for further work and discussion.

SEL Literature: Educator Ideal Affect

Team Members: Marc Brackett, James Floman, Rachel Baumsteiger

The purpose of this investigation is to answer the question: How do teachers want to feel at work? We surveyed a large (N = 4936), diverse sample of teachers from across the U.S. (Study 1); obtained 151 “charters” (i.e., collective agreements) from educators regarding their ideal affect at school (Study 2); ran an experiment in which 418 educators were randomly assigned to report how they hoped to feel either in the classroom versus at school (Study 3); surveyed 397 educators about how they wanted to feel at school amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (Study 4); and collected data on 475 teachers regarding specific supports that may assist them in experiencing their ideal affect (Study 5). Overall, the results suggest that educators’ most desired to feel happy, successful, appreciated, and excited at school. That said, ideal affect varied based on whether educators responded individually (Study 1) or collectively (Study 2), with reference to the classroom or school context (Study 3), and based on sociohistorical context (i.e., before or during the COVID-19 pandemic; Study 4). The top supports identified for promoting educators’ ideal affect included seeing evidence of student success and being recognized for their work, especially by administrators. These findings may help to guide efforts for promoting educator emotional health and well-being.

SEL Literature: Navigating Emotions in Times of Uncertainty and Stress: SEL Course Data Studies

Funding Source: Dalio Education

Team Members: Christina Cipriano, Almut Zieher, Rachel Baumsteiger, Jessica Hoffmann, Violet Tan, Jennifer P Seibyl, Linda Torv, Morgan Mannweiler, Robin Stern, Marc Brackett, Lauren Naples, Abigail Eveleigh, Miranda Wood, Tia Navelene Barnes (University of Delaware), Melissa Stoffers (University of Delaware)

To support the psychosocial health and well-being of educators during the COVID-19 pandemic, the YCEI, with funding from Dalio Education (#19-07517) developed a free online certificate course for school personnel. This 10-hour course launched on October 1st and provides school staff with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to understand and manage their emotions. Course participants begin by learning about why social and emotional learning is an important component of education. Then, they explore how to identify and manage emotions, including how to support their students with their emotions in scientific and culturally responsive ways. Participants complete “Weekly Action Plans” to build a comprehensive and personalized guide for lasting change. As part of the course experience, participants are invited to participate in a short survey study to inform the scientific and educator practitioner communities about their emotional experiences, impacts, and opportunities for cultivating resilience in both educators and students during this time of crisis. To support the real-time dissemination of findings and to offer support to educators as we continue to move through the challenges of pandemic teaching, we present results from the surveys in white papers here for dissemination. The project is pre-registered on Open Science Framework.

SEL Assessment: Catalyzing the Future Directions of Assessment of Social and Emotional Learning

Funding Source: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)

Team Members: Chris Cipriano, Marc Brackett, Linda Torv, Jeremy Taylor (Possible Project), Clark McKown (xSEL Labs), Roger Weisberg, & Rob Jagers (CASEL)

The purpose of this project was to bring together constituents reflecting the social and emotional learning (SEL) assessment landscape for a targeted, action-oriented discussion. The constituents met in the form of a pre-conference prior to the inaugural SEL Conference offered by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in Chicago, IL in October 2019. As a collective, the constituents produced the Appendices to the State of the Field Report. These Appendices advised the launch and completion of the most essential next steps of work related to assessment in the field of SEL.

Learning modules to support the launching of these five essential next steps of work will be released monthly starting in May 2020.


Stay tuned for more information and to be notified of opportunities to participate. Contact Chris Cipriano for more information.

1. Leverage Existing Resources and Expertise

2. Promote SEL Data Literacy

3. Enable Equity

4. Engage Youth Voice

5. Integrate SEL Assessment at the System Level

Student-Led SEL: The inspirED Process: Empowering Youth to Launch Peer Outreach Projects that Promote Healthy Social Media Habits

Funding Source: Susan Crown Exchange

Team Members: Jessica Hoffmann, Julie McGarry, Jennifer Seibyl, Kalee De France, Sean McFarland, Violet Tan, Mary Holsopple (International Bullying Prevention Association)

The project’s purpose is to engage students in examining technology use at their school and leading their peers in making a positive change. This will be done using inspirED’s ABCD process: assess school climate with regards to healthy technology use, brainstorm solutions, complete projects, and debrief impact.

Through collaboration with the International Bullying Prevention Association, we will invite teams of 4-8 students per school to attend our online training program (up to 80 schools total from around the United States). The 4-6 hour training supports teams through the Assess and Brainstorm phases, and teaches skills in creative problem solving, leadership, and team communication which allows students to commit to and complete a project of their choosing. Following the training, teams are supported through coaching from the inspirED team at the YCEI through completing their project, measuring impact, and debriefing.

We anticipate two sets of deliverables. First, we will collect data on the impact of peer-led projects on healthy social media use among secondary school students, including their attitudes, intentions, and behaviors; students’ sense of agency to affect change; and the school’s climate. This will result in peer-reviewed and practitioner-focused publications and presentations. Second, we will collect detailed information on all completed student projects and build a comprehensive set of at least 65 project descriptions and school stories (including helpful artifacts and examples). These examples will be accessible through inspirED’s open-access digital resource library to benefit teens nationwide.

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Presentations and Publications

  • Donaldson, C., Hoffmann, J., McGarry, J., & Sharma, S. (2020, December). Research-based Initiatives Targeting School Climate and SEL Skills in K-12. Social Emotional Learning Lightning Talk at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference [Virtual due to COVID-19].
  • Hoffmann, J. D., & McGarry, J. (2021, January). Empowering Youth to Take Action on School Climate and Culture. In C. Jordan & J. Kerr-Vanderslice (Facilitators), Illinois Quality Afterschool at AIR webinar.
  • Tan, T.Y. & McFarland, S. (2021, August). Tech for good: A scale for healthy technology use in adolescents [Poster Presentation]. Yale Postgraduate Research Symposium, Virtual.ices [Poster presentation].” Society for Research in Child Development 2021 Biennial Meeting, virtual convening.
  • Tan, T.Y. & McFarland, S. (2021, August). Tech for good: A scale for healthy technology use in adolescents. [Poster Presentation]. Yale Postgraduate Research Symposium.
  • Baumsteiger, R., Hoffmann, J., Tan, T. (2022, April). A Multidimensional Measure of Adolescent Technology Use. [Paper presentation]. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego.
  • Baumsteiger, R. Seibyl, J., & Hoffmann, J. (2022, July). How to support adolescents’ social and emotional development: A study of “inspirED.” In R. Baumsteiger and K. De France (chairs), Adolescents' affective experiences: The influence of home, school, technology, and a school-based program [Conference Symposium]. International Society for Research on Emotion Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA.
  • McFarland, S., Tan, T. Y., & De France, K. (2022, July). Healthy technology use and affective well-being: The protective role of online citizenship and school preparation. In R. Baumsteiger and K. De France (chairs), Adolescents' affective experiences: The influence of home, school, technology, and a school-based program [Conference Symposium]. International Society for Research on Emotion Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA.
  • McFarland, S., Tan, T. Y., Baumsteiger, R., DeFrance, K., & Hoffmann, J. (2022, August).Technology use and affective well-being in adolescents across different grades [Poster presentation]. American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN.