Effects of Social Emotional Learning on Resiliency of Students At Risk
Student resiliency refers to the ability to succeed in school regardless of unpleasant circumstances, such as poverty or abuse, and can be measured by the degree of presence of the following components: a sense of well-being, motivation, ability to set goals, development of strong relationships or connections, and stress management (Close & Solberg, 2007). Resiliency has been strongly linked to moral, cognitive, and spiritual development as well academic success, in students (Hanson & Kim, 2007). A growing number of studies have been conducted regarding the development of resiliency through social emotional learning (SEL). The premise of SEL programs is that students can be taught how to become more resilient and therefore more successful.
This study was conducted to identify the effectiveness of an intensive, brief SEL curriculum, the Discovery Program, on self-ratings of social emotional assets and resilience of at-risk students at Victory High School, an alternative high school in Freedom County School District 1 (FCSD1). A total of 90 students in three cohorts began the Discovery Program in spring and summer of 2011. Of the 90 students beginning the program, only 45 students completed it. The Success Highways‘ resiliency inventory, a 108 item computer generated selfreporting assessment, was administered to students on the first and last days of the Program. The Success Highways pre- and post-assessment measured the following resiliency constructs: Importance of School, Confidence, Connections, Stress, Well-Being, and Motivation. The constructs were measured on a five-point Likert Scale. At the end of the program 35 student and four teacher interviews were conducted to explore their perceptions of the success of the program.
Analysis of the pre- and post-assessments indicated significant increases in the constructs “Confidence” and “Importance of School” from start to end of the program. When comparing pre-assessments of students who completed the program with those who did not, students who dropped out of the program rated the constructs “Importance of School” and “Well-Being” significantly lower. Students who completed the program increased their overall resiliency score over the timeframe of the program but the increase was not significant. Analysis of the interview data indicated that the majority of the students perceived they benefited from the program. Teachers also indicated they believed the program was beneficial in increasing student resilience.