Social Emotional Competence in School Settings and Its Relevance for Students and Teachers

Year: 2017

Author: Collie, Rebecca, Martin, Andrew, Frydenberg, Erica, Cumming, Terry, O'Neill, Sue, Strnadova, Iva, Deans, Jan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Practitioners and researchers are increasingly recognising the importance of addressing social and emotional competence alongside the academic focus that has typically been the central aim of schooling (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Social and emotional competence (SEC) refers to capacities that support individuals' effective responses to intrapersonal and interpersonal social and emotional experiences (Durlak et al., 2011). Curriculum designed to teach SEC is known as social and emotional learning (SEL). The Australian Curriculum Frameworks emphasise the importance of SEL from the early years and throughout schooling. Although research is supporting the value of SEC and SEL for students, additional knowledge may be gained from considering constructs from the psycho-educational literature. Moreover, research has largely focused on mainstream students without considering different student populations within that (e.g., at-risk students) or the importance of SEC and SEL for teachers across diverse age groups. The first objective of the symposium, therefore, is to harness research from the psycho-educational literature to extend understanding of SEC and how it manifests in students-including 'mainstream' and at-risk students-and teachers. The second objective is to discuss the importance of SEC for both students and teachers by highlighting its links with important academic, occupational and health outcomes. To achieve these objectives, three papers will be presented. In the first paper, the relevance of SEC for at-risk students (juxtaposed with students not formally deemed at-risk) is discussed with a focus on ADHD, behaviour disorders, emotional disorders, and learning disabilities. In particular, this paper will consider the important role of agency (both personal and interpersonal) for developing SEC among these students (whilst also shedding light on the importance of agency for students not formally considered at-risk). In the second paper, the significance of SEC for teachers is considered. Understanding from a broad psycho-educational literature is harnessed to discuss how SEC manifests among teachers, why it is important for teachers and their students, and how it may be promoted. The third paper focuses on engaging preschool children, teachers and parents to understand and facilitate the development of everyday coping skills for healthy social and emotional development. Together, the three papers have the potential to extend knowledge of SEC and its relevance to healthy and effective social and emotional learning.