Implementation and evaluation of urban school-wide social-emotional learning programs

Tanya E. Romasz, Jennifer H. Kantor, Maurice J. Elias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This article describes the third and, primarily, fourth years of a multi-year collaboration between the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Lab and the Plainfield, New Jersey schools, to build students' SEL skills to a school-wide level across multiple schools. The first three years were devoted to implementing an evidence-backed, classroom-based SEL curriculum, 'Talking with TJ.' Year 4 focused on expanding the SEL principles in the curriculum to complementary school building activities outside the classroom designed to help create a school-wide culture of SEL, complementing which is provided by a classroom-based SEL curriculum. The conceptual model guiding the program included principles from community/preventive psychology and the SEL movement; and the conceptual model guiding the evaluation was action research.As a result of a collaborative assessment of intervention needs outside the classroom, four concerns and the interventions to address them were identified: Discipline Difficulties/Positive Recognition Program; Lack of Student Empathy/Service Learning Opportunities; Inadequate Building Safety and Cohesiveness/Positive School Climate Initiatives; and Inadequate Student Services/Group Counseling.Within the scope and context of the one-year process described in the study, a formal, quantitative outcome study of this SEL initiative was not viewed as appropriate. Rather, what was viewed as of central importance was to assess, in the subsequent year, the extent of the school's commitment to the program and to the process of action research as a way of meeting ongoing school needs. The article concludes with a discussion of specific lessons learned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Crime
  • Self-esteem
  • Social-emotional learning


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