Contextually Relevant Emotional and Social Wellbeing Tools (CREST) Study
Background and Context
Given the positive effects that social and emotional learning (SEL) has for children, especially those who have experienced severe adversity in conflict-affected and fragile settings, there has been a growing emphasis on this subject. However, the focus of SEL policies and programs has primarily been on children’s skills. Children learn and develop within dynamic education settings that include their teachers, peers, administrators, and other school/learning center personnel. Effective SEL interventions require more than including SEL content in lesson plans; rather, they necessitate a systemic approach that includes school leaders, teachers, and caregivers in the process of supporting students’ social and emotional development. What has been missing from the conversation on children’s SEL skills is this focus on the education settings around children, especially the support and competency development that teachers require in order to promote children’s social and emotional development. Teachers influence children’s SEL not only by what and how they teach but also by how they interact with learners and manage the classroom.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process in which children develop the ability to understand and manage their emotions, form positive and healthy relationships, and constructively solve problems they face in life.
Teacher wellbeing deals with understanding teachers’ perceptions of and functioning in their role as an educator; it includes skills, attitudes, characteristics, training, people and systems that support and hinder teachers in the profession.
However, how SEL skills and teacher wellbeing are defined, codified, and operationalized in research and how this is translated into programs and practice is not always consistent or agreed upon. Moreover, most of the tools for measuring children’s SEL and teachers’ wellbeing have been developed in stable, high resource contexts and are not easy to adapt and use in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. This is especially important since the skills and support systems that make up children’s SEL and teacher’s wellbeing are socially normative; they are likely shaped and manifested by the environment around the individual. Therefore, it is critical to conduct research on children’s SEL skills and teacher wellbeing that is grounded in the perspectives of teachers, children, and caregivers; we need to more fully capture the unique experiences of children and teachers in varied contexts, and explore how the factors that influence SEL and teacher wellbeing manifest for students and teachers across gender, displacement status, years teaching, school location, and other characteristics.
To achieve these objectives, the present study addresses the following questions:
- How do primary school-age children, parents, and educators define and prioritize the social and emotional skills they believe are important in the lives of children? What are the psychometric properties (validity and reliability) of a measure that is developed using this context-specific information?
- How do primary school teachers define and prioritize teacher wellbeing and the factors that affect this wellbeing? What are the psychometric properties (validity and reliability) of a measure that is developed using this context-specific information?
- Country-level goal: Understand how children, parents, and teachers define and prioritize SEL and teacher wellbeing, and produce context-relevant, validated assessments for each.
- Cross-country goal: Develop a data-informed process that any country or activity, but especially those in crisis- or conflict-affected contexts, can use to develop feasible, reliable, valid, context-relevant and conflict-sensitive child SEL and teacher wellbeing assessments.
In the current iteration, this study will focus on partnering with the education ecosystem in Haiti, Honduras, and Liberia.
Core Research Team
Principal Investigator: Dr. Nikhit D’Sa, Assistant Professor and Senior Associate Director of Research, University of Notre Dame
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeongmin Lee, SHARE Technical Research Advisor, University of Notre Dame
Program Manager: Aimee Lyons, SHARE Program Manager, University of Notre Dame