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Craig S. Bailey, PhD

Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center; Director of Early Childhood, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Child Study Center

Extensive Research Description

Promoting School Readiness Through Emotional Intelligence: An Efficacy Trial of Preschool RULER (R305A180293; PI: Bailey, Co-PIs: Brackett, Mashburn, Elbertson, Banerjee)

With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, this six-year project (2018-2024) is designed to test whether Preschool RULER, a whole-school approach aiming to promote emotional intelligence for preschool-aged children and early childhood educators, has an impact on children’s school readiness and school and classroom climate in 72 preschools across Connecticut and Colorado. 

Preschool RULER was developed and adapted from RULER K-8 and aims to provide concrete tools and strategies that support educators integrating social-emotional skills into every aspect of the school day. The project targets emotional intelligence by focusing on five social-emotional skills remembered using the acronym: RULER (recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions). This project, in collaboration between Yale University, Portland State University, and the University of Denver, incorporates multisite cluster randomized control trial design with one group of schools receiving access to Preschool RULER and the other serving as a waitlisted business-as-usual control.

To examine its impact, researchers from Yale will use direct child assessments, classroom observations, and surveys to collect data on over 2,000 children's school readiness (i.e., social and emotional skills, approaches to learning, pre-literacy, and pre-math skills) in preschool and kindergarten. Observational and survey data will also be collected over 200 educators’ social and emotional skills, stress, social and emotional learning pedagogy, leadership, and school and classroom climate.  

Bridgeport Early Childhood SEL Initiative (Steering Committee Chair and PI: Bailey;

With funding from the Tauck Family Foundation, this five-year community-based, research-to-practice partnership (2018-2023) between Yale University and local community stakeholders is tasked with creating a community of practice by infusing SEL into the culture and infrastructure of the community and ensuring coordinated, high quality SEL programming and supports for the early childhood educators, young children, and families of Bridgeport, CT.

Led by the Initiative’s Steering Committee and 4 Workgroups (i.e., SEL Programming, Assessment and Data Systems, Research and Evaluation, and Community Outreach and Family Engagement), the Initiative will:

  1. give access to RULER to all of Bridgeport’s center-based and family-based childcare providers;
  2. strengthen and coordinate SEL programming between Bridgeport’s early childhood settings and Bridgeport Public Schools;
  3. use SEL as a catalyst to share resources by creating and facilitating a community-wide professional development network of providers and stakeholders;
  4. use SEL as a catalyst to build a community-wide assessment framework ultimately bridging systems within early childhood and between early childhood and the public school system. 

First piloted in Norwalk, Connecticut, with funding from the Grossman Family Foundation, this Initiative exists alongside SEL initiatives across Connecticut, serving specifically as a test-case for providing access to RULER at the community level in early childhood settings by emphasizing mutual collaboration, intentionality, and shared vision, a direct parallel to implementation within a district or within a school for systematic approaches to SEL.

With support from the Yale Consultation Center, data will be collected to evaluate whether the Initiative is making a difference in Bridgeport’s early care and education settings as well as in the lives of educators and leaders. Survey data will be collected from Bridgeport’s early childhood center- and family-based childcare staff who are working with the Initiative and will include indicators of school and classroom climate, efficacy, relationships, social and emotional skills, and general indicators of wellbeing.

Hartford Early Childhood SEL Initiative (PI: Bailey;

The purpose of this three-year research-to-practice partnership (2019-2022) was to contribute to our vision for the Capitol Region where emotions matter and its residents have universal access to high-quality social and emotional learning (SEL) and who are empowered to be healthier, more productive, and compassionate. Our strategy was to impact the key adults in children's lives while transforming the community, school, and families systems of their education and care. The Hartford Early Childhood SEL Initiative sought to:

  • offer access to high-quality SEL to family-based childcare providers in the Hartford, CT region;
  • work with existing community stakeholders to find unique ways to evaluate community impact of SEL programming by leveraging new and existing data;
  • collaborate with a group of local Parent Leaders to develop and prototype high-quality, accessible, relevant, and culturally responsive and inclusive resources—Stories for Growth: Making Meaning of Emotions—to enhance family (and the practice of emotional intelligence in the home) and family-childcare provider emotional intelligence.

Over three years (2019–2022), the initiative trained 35 family child care providers in RULER, collected community data across 10 towns in and around Hartford, and collaborated with local parents to develop a series of seven videos, eight workshops, and a companion workbook that can be used by community service agencies and other groups to promote SEL and well-being.

Partners for this project include the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, City of Hartford Early Learning Division, City of Hartford Family Child Care Network, All Our Kin, Fathers in Education with Tony Nelson, the National Mobilization Director, serving as the Parent Leader Coordinator, seven Hartford Parent Leaders who've recently formed their own organization, Parents Leading the Way to SEL (Lovey Brown, Vincent Hatten, Ivoni Montes, Carmen Morales, Bobie Jo Parker, Susan Sarmiento, and Maria Vasquez), and Poulomi Mukherji, Animation Director.

Stories for Growth: Making Meaning of Emotions is a collection of resources designed by parents for parents (biological, adoptive, or foster), grandparents, caregivers, educators, and all others who care for young children.

When the adults in children's lives understand the value of emotions and learn strategies for recognizing and regulating emotions, not only are they on the road to developing a greater sense of well-being, but they are more equipped to support children in developing these strategies and skills for themselves.

Between January 2020 and June 2022, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence team collaborated with seven local Parent Leaders, Tony Nelson (Parent Leader Coordinator), and Poulomi Mukherji (animation director) to develop seven story-based animated videos and supplementary resources. Out of this collaboration, Stories for Growth: Making Meaning of Emotions emerged. The program materials include:

  • (1) seven story-based videos
  • (2) eight video-based workshops centered around original stories from the lives of parents, grandparents, and other caregivers,
  • (3) the companion workbook for participants, and
  • (4) a facilitator's guide.

These resources can be used by families, communities, school districts as well as center- and home-based providers to strengthen family emotional intelligence (and the practice of emotional intelligence in the home), family engagement and support educator professional development.

The videos and supplementary workshop materials will be hosted publicly so that these resources are universally accessible to support diverse cultures (e.g., socioeconomic, racial/ethnic) and contexts (i.e., home, school, community) while meeting local needs that were identified through our community feedback efforts.

(1) Videos: Stories were at the core of learning and growth within the parent leadership group. With each video narrated in his or her own voice, the Parent Leaders share unique stories where they reflect on their lived experiences and how this multi-year journey has transformed them and impacted their growth and the well-being of their children, families, and community.

  • Video 1: What Difference Would It Have Made? (Carmen’s Story)
  • Video 2: Growing Up, We Didn’t Talk About Emotions (Susan’s Story)
  • Video 3: Vividly Remembering That Episode Of My Childhood (Maria’s Story)
  • Video 4: When I Grow, My Child Grows (Ivoni’s Story)
  • Video 5: Everyday Challenges Present Opportunities (Bobie Jo’s and Vincent’s Stories)
  • Video 6: Second Chances (Tony’s Story)
  • Video 7: A Light In You (Lovey’s Story)

For each video, original music has been composed by Larry Groupé, Professor of Music at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Access all seven videos at

(2) Video-based Workshops: To deepen the learning for each video, we designed eight workshops. Both the videos and workshops leverage personal stories as a springboard to have conversations about emotions. Workshops are approximately two hours in length.

(3) Participant Workbook: To accompany the video-based workshop series, we’ve designed a companion Workbook for participants to spotlight key SEL concepts and practices embedded within each video. The workbook includes key concepts and extended learning group and individual reflection activities for adults to practice SEL skills between workshop sessions. 

(4) Facilitator's Guide: To prepare facilitators and strengthen their skills for delivering these video-based workshops, we have created a Facilitator's Guide.

China Early Childhood RULER Pilot (PIs: Brackett and Bailey;

The purpose of this project is to lay the groundwork for introducing and infusing RULER into Kindergartens across China as well as studying SEL, RULER, and emotional intelligence. Beginning in 2018, project activities include:

  • developing Chinese-based strategic partners to support RULER in local Kindergartens and to promote research;
  • translating and culturally adapting RULER's approach to school-based SEL for use in Chinese Kindergartens; based on our emerging understanding of the role of emotional intelligence with Chinese children and their teachers;
  • a systematic review of emotion suppression in China;
  • a meta-analysis of school-based SEL programming in China;
  • an investigation of how teachers use stories for children’s SEL;
  • cultural adaptation and validation of assessments of children’s emotional intelligence.

Partners for this project include the Yale Center Beijing,Yale China AssociationNortheast Normal UniversityFujian Preschool Education College, and Hunan Normal University.

The Development and Validation of the Social and Emotional Learning Observation Checklist for Elementary School (R305A210262; PI: Cipriano, Co-PIs: Strambler, Bailey) 

The promotion of social and behavioral outcomes alongside academic development is a primary goal of education in the U.S. Yet, in the absence of a high-quality measure of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) pedagogy, little is known about how SEL practices promote student development. The purpose of this project is to support educators in improving student social, behavioral, and academic success as well as educators' own professional growth through the development and validation of the Social and Emotional Learning Observation Checklist for Elementary School (SELOC-ES), an observation tool for elementary classrooms specifically designed to capture SEL pedagogy. 

With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we’re developing the SELOC-ES through a mixed-methods design to support the practical utility within school, state, and district assessment frameworks. In Year 1, the researchers will begin with:

  1. a content analysis of evidence-based elementary school SEL curricula to identify the key processes and activities of SEL pedagogy in elementary school classrooms; 
  2. strategic classroom observations and interviews with 12 experienced SEL School Leaders (SLs) and 12 K-5 teachers from diverse school districts across the country;
  3. convening an advisory board of SEL experts. 

Year 1 research activities will inform development of initial SELOC-ES items and refine the SEL Pedagogy Framework. In Year 2, basic feasibility testing will be conducted with 24 SLs and 24 teachers to refine draft items and create the SELOC-ES observation system. In Years 3 and 4, the researchers will:

  1. pilot the SELOC-ES to establish initial evidence of psychometric properties and refine the observation tool and system alongside 50 SLs and 300 classrooms across the country;
  2. conduct a cost analysis of SELOC-ES implementation;
  3. re-convene the advisory panel and SLs to share the final tool for immediate adoption to support effective SEL implementation and professional development.

Promoting Equity and Eliminating Racism with Sustainable SEL Assessments (PIs Cipriano & Hoffmann)

In the past 20 years, interest and investment in universal school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) has increased. This movement has been backed by national education policy, including the Every Study Succeeds Act of 2015, which requires schools to measure at least one indicator of student social, emotional, and behavioral health in addition to academic benchmarks. 

As indicators of school quality beyond academics have come to the forefront, two needs have emerged: evidence-based interventions and rigorous assessments that can provide sound and useful feedback on the efficacy of social and emotional learning approaches. 

While many new SEL approaches and assessments emerged in the last decade to fill these needs, historically marginalized students have not shared equally in the benefits. In some cases, these interventions, practices, and policies have contributed to inequalities, inaccessibility, and punitive educational practices that adversely impact minoritized youth. A recent review of universal school-based SEL found that nearly 75 percent of studies did not even report student race in their results. 

Trajectory of HopeThe Urban Assembly, and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence have come together to ensure that social and emotional learning approaches, and accompanying assessment tools , promote equity and to help identify and eliminate racism and other exclusionary practices in research, in programming, and in policy.

Project Objectives 

  1. Science: Explore and understand how SEL assessment tools developed at the YCEI work independently and in concert with each other when applied by organizations in schools with the stated goals of identifying and dismantling student outcome disparities, systemic biases, and/or exclusionary practices.
  2. Practice: Identify how SEL assessment tools developed at the YCEI support ongoing and established practices of Urban Assembly and Trajectory of Hope in fostering school-wide social and emotional health. Determine what adaptations or refinements to the tools are necessary to deliver a fully accessible, scientifically rigorous, and useful suite of digital assessments.
  3. Policy: Provide proof of concept of tool integration with data-systems native to schools in two different models – those of Urban Assembly and Trajectory of Hope - that will help these organizations become leaders in this space and yield information to make impactful policy statements regarding the resources, services, and staffing necessary to use tools and incorporate data in decision-making.

Assessment Tools

The YCEI-designed tools for schools included in this study are psychometrically sound, accessible, and pragmatic. They incorporate diversity in stimuli, samples, and design to address exclusionary practices in research.

School Climate Walkthrough

The School Climate Walkthrough is a web-based school climate assessment tool for secondary schools. Students complete “the Walkthrough” in two parts over the course of a typical school day - 15 minutes in the morning, answering questions about their overall opinions of their school, and 15 minutes in the afternoon, completing a checklist of their observations from that day at school. 
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Momentary Emotion Assessment (MEA)

The Momentary Emotion Assessment Tool tracks how students feel and how they respond to their emotions at school. This tool could be used by researchers and educators to understand momentary emotions and how they change, and to capture the effects of interventions designed to improve students’ experiences at school. 
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Student Emotion Regulation Assessment (SERA)

The SERA is a direct assessment that measures students’ use of various emotion regulation strategies (e.g., problem solving, emotional support-seeking, somatic relaxation, distraction, rumination, and experiencing the emotion) to deal with emotional situations that commonly occur in school. 
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Adult Emotional Intelligence Test

The Adult Emotional Intelligence Test is a multi-component assessment that includes an Emotion Perception Test (EPT), Emotion Understanding Test (EUT), and a Teacher Emotion Regulation Assessment (TERA).


Research Interests

Child Development; Education; Emotions; Early Intervention, Educational; Emotional Intelligence

Research Images

Selected Publications