Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills
04 Dec - 09 Dec, 2016
- Senior Vice President, Policy Evaluation & Research Center, ETS, USA
- Editor, Digital Publishing Director, Times Educational Supplement (TES), United Kingdom
Additional Session Support:
Common sense and hard evidence suggest that social and emotional skills (S&E skills) empower individuals to achieve labour market success, maintain healthy lifestyles, exercise active (global) citizenship, express tolerance and non-violence. The paucity of social and emotional assessment and learning initiatives may come from the perception among some education stakeholders that social and emotional skills are hard to improve given its potentially strong genetic influence. Those who believe in the malleability of social and emotional skills may still feel constrained to "translate intentions into actions" due to pressures they face in enhancing children's academic skills. Inaction may also be due to the lack of information policy makers and practitioners have in order to measure and improve of social and emotional skills. It is encouraging to learn from emerging evidence in the fields of education, psychology, neuroscience and economics, which suggest that social and emotional skills can not only be measured but also progressively developed over the lifecycle. Moreover, today's educators tend to have a more forward-looking perspective on what common sense always suggested: when teachers and parents pay close attention to students' social and emotional skills, their academic achievement tend to increase, delinquent behaviours tend to decrease, and inter-personal relationships tend to enrich. Consequently, students become more productive, responsible and caring members of the society. Social and emotional learning is sometimes referred to as the missing piece, that part of the school mission that has eroded. By stating so, it is recognized that 1) academic skills and S&E skills are interrelated, 2) S&E skills reflect cognitive and non-cognitive aspects, and 3) S&E skills include a wide range of attitudes, motivations and values that greatly differ and are interpreted differently in each context and culture.
The last point might be one of the reasons why there seems to be lack of a reliable standardized testing and assessment framework with all the core, necessary elements, which leaves the availability of less satisfying measurement tools and indicators that can be applied universally for the evaluation and testing of S&E skills.
Now is a great moment to bring social and emotional learning back to the centre of learning, where it belongs. This may, however, require adjustments in our education systems which can only be effectively done through in-depth reflections on the evidence, mapping hurdles and opportunities on a global scale and involvement from all stakeholders concerned.