May 11, 2021

What are the evidence-based benefits of social-emotional learning?


  • CASEL’s five SEL competencies are self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
  • Implementations can increase academic performance by 11 percentile points.
  • Long-term impact shows positive outcomes lasting up to 18 years later.
  • The average return on investment for SEL programming is 11:1.
  • Every TSI lesson aligns with evidence-based CASEL competencies.

The Social Institute’s comprehensive approach to modern social-emotional learning (SEL) empowers entire school communities – students, educators, and parents – to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology in health, high-character ways.

SEL equips students of all ages with the skills they need to navigate an increasingly complex world and is backed by decades of research.

What is SEL?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) first defined SEL more than two decades ago. SEL is a crucial part of students’ development, both inside and outside the classroom. It is how students establish identities, process emotions, achieve goals, cultivate healthy relationships, build empathy, and sharpen decision-making skills. 

CASEL’s framework consists of five main competencies:

  • Self-management
  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making


All five contain a subset of more specific competencies applicable across various stages of development and across different cultural contexts.

The Social Institute partners directly with schools and offers an engaging, interactive learning platform with developmentally appropriate SEL lessons spanning 4th-12th grade. Every lesson maps to specific sub-competencies, offering a comprehensive and well-rounded solution.

Benefits of SEL

CASEL’s expertise as a leader in SEL is rooted in more than two decades of exhaustive research.

Prioritizing non-cognitive skills enhances academic performance. A 2011 meta-analysis of 213 studies involving over 270,000 students shows that SEL interventions that address CASEL’s five core competencies increased academic performance by 11 percentile points compared to students who did not participate in SEL programs.

SEL’s impact is both long-term and global. A 2017 meta-analysis of 82 research studies and over 100,000 studies worldwide reveals that SEL initiatives can have a sustained impact on academics, behavioral conduct, and emotional distress lasting up to 18 years later.

Proactively investing in SEL programming also reduces overall costs over time with an 11:1 return on investment. A 2015 cost-benefit analysis of evidence-based programs conducted by Columbia University found that there is a return of eleven dollars for every dollar invested equally in SEL interventions.

The research aligns with widespread perceptions held by educators, parents, and prospective employers.

  • 93% of teachers want a greater focus on SEL in schools.
  • 81% of parents believe that SEL is just as important as academic learning.
  • 92% of executives believe that soft skills are equal to or more important than technicals skills.

The evidence is clear: SEL makes a tangible impact. 

Effective implementation of SEL programming allows student growth in the classroom and beyond. When schools consistently implement a strong SEL curriculum, they foster a supportive and healthy environment that bolsters the entire community.

The Social Institute is ready to help your community unlock the long-lasting benefits of evidence-based SEL. Contact us today for more information. Let’s do this.

About The Social Institute

The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents, and educators to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively through comprehensive, gamified lessons that meet students on their level as well. We have partnered with forward-thinking institutions across the nation, including Ravenscroft School, Gaston Day School, Bryn Mawr, Gilman School, Woodward Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, and others. For more information, contact us.