Closing the Gaps in Global SEL Research

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Mar 13, 2019
by Louise Hallman
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Closing the Gaps in Global SEL Research

Participants at Social and Emotional Learning: Time for Action explore the gaps in research on SEL Participants attend a panel in the Robison Gallery

“The moment of SEL is here” – so how do we take advantage of that to curate the research needed to advance SEL?

Many donors fund programs for offering SEL in crisis and conflict settings, but more need to fund the research needed to make sure these programs are effective in the specific context in which they are being implemented. Zero research means poor impact. As researchers, we should ask ourselves five key questions: What works? For whom does it work? How does it work? Under what conditions does it work? And “for how damn long?”

Understanding the context and resources available will create more effective programs.However, much research takes place outside of the context of practice, thus stronger links need to be forged between the two.

“There are more gaps than there is research,” lamented one panelist. Policymakers are often “pushed to back up what they need to do,” so much so that they tend to sometimes “grab anything.”

Those who suffer most from this poorly informed approach are those who would benefit most greatly were it to be improved: the students. “Kids don’t deserve us guessing – kids deserve us knowing.”

To produce the best possible research and evidence, research should be inclusive. “We need to co-create research with communities so that research is done with them not on them.” Research also needs to expand beyond US/Western scholarship. Funding initiatives to pair researchers from the North and South, can go a long way in establishing a global understanding of SEL.

Read more in Issue 2 of the program newsletter:

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The program Social and Emotional Learning: Time for Action is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World. The program is held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft, Porticus, Qatar Foundation International and USAID’s Education in Crisis and Conflict Network.