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Title: A multi-level approach to assessing the impact of Social and Emotional Learning : Secondary SEAL
Author: Wigelsworth, Michael Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 6146
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2010
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Despite an expanding interest in the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI), difficulties in definition, measurement and reconciling competing models has led to an argument that the practical application of EI has overtaken current levels of understanding and research (Matthews, Roberts, & Zeidner, 2004; Zeidner, Roberts, & Matthews, 2002). This is particularly relevant within education where a large range of social and emotional learning (SEL) programmes, designed to increase EI in pupils, vary drastically in their intended outcomes and methods, quality of material and the frequency and quality of evaluation (Hoffman, 2009). To date, the majority of research has been US based and the small quantity of UK research has been focused either at the primary level, or has assessed the perception of impact. This means the potential success for SEL to positively improve UK secondary aged pupil outcomes is untested. The aim of the current study was the assessment of the SEAL programme, a National Strategy for English secondary schools designed to positively influence a range of pupil outcomes, including increased emotional literacy, better behaviour and improved mental well-being. Additionally, the validity of the underlying relationship between EI and favourable outcomes, beyond identified socio-demographics, was measured. The study utilised a predominately quantitative design with a final sample of 22 schools (approximately 2360 pupils) implementing the SEAL programme, and 19 ‘matched comparison’ schools (approximately 1991 pupils), selected on the basis of similar school level characteristics. Pupils from every school completed annual self-rated assessments of their emotional literacy (using the ELAI), mental well-being and pro social behaviour (using the SDQ) over a three year period. A small case study element (9 SEAL Schools) was selected from the larger quantitative sample to provide context to the quantitative results. Multi-level modelling (a statistical technique for examining hierarchically clustered data) was used to analyse the results. After controlling for socio-demographic factors, results indicated a marginal non-significant effect in pupil’s emotional literacy and mental health difficulties as a result of attending a SEAL school, however no effect on prosocial behaviour was found. Results also indicated a differential effect on the basis of the pupil variables of SEN provision, gender and ethnicity, which was consistent with very little variation at school level reported. A significant relationship was found between emotional literacy, mental health difficulties and pro social behaviour, indicating a valid theoretical framework, despite the lack of a significant effect of the SEAL programme. Further examination revealed that the relationship between the variables may be more complex than originally theorised, although difficulties with high degrees of confound between the factors limit this interpretation. Implications and directions for future research are also discussed.
Supervisor: Farrell, Peter ; Humphrey, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: emotional intelligence ; emotional literacy ; SEAL ; social and emotional learning ; multi level modelling