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Learning in small groups with can promote growth in student social-emotional skills!

Given the uneven track record of adjunctive social–emotional learning (SEL) programs and waning effects by middle and high school, we propose a more integrative approach to SEL through cooperative learning (CL). CL has demonstrated the ability to improve social–emotional, behavioral, academic, and mental health benefits, but CL lessons are complex and thus can be difficult to design and consistently deliver with fidelity. The present study attempted to address this barrier by examining the effects of technology-assisted CL on five social–emotional competencies, as well as social and behavioral outcomes. Participants were 813 students (50.2% female, N = 408, and 70.7% White, N = 575) from 12 middle and high schools in the Pacific Northwest in a cluster-randomized design where six intervention schools implemented technology-assisted CL and six control schools conducted business as usual. Using multilevel modeling, intervention effects on all outcomes after 1 year were significant, with moderate to large effect sizes, inviting further evaluation of integrative approaches to SEL that are developmentally aligned with the needs of students in secondary education. Although there remains a dearth of universal school-based interventions with demonstrated impacts on social outcomes in middle and high school, the present study builds support for the use of integrative, relationship-based instructional approaches, supported by technology, to promote positive peer relations, and social competencies for this age group.

Journal: School Psychology

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