Sense of belonging proven to improve after regular use of an SEL program
New research from Aberdeen University, Scotland, aimed to find out how an online SEL program can be integrated into classroom routines and what types of impacts the program can have on both teacher and student well-being has been published. “The positive impact of regular SEL activities on students was remarkable. The main finding was that students’ togetherness in the classroom improved significantly”, states Iida Kurkilahti, the main researcher from the Aberdeen University. Mightifier was selected to provide the online SEL environment to run the research.
“Teachers described how the students’ mood was lifted, especially by the positive feedback messages. They also highlighted improved language skills and better self-awareness”, continues Kurkilahti.
The students’ togetherness in the classroom was described as the most remarkable effect. With the help of the online SEL tool, students had become more alert to look for positive aspects in one another, and their sense of belonging had improved.
“The culture changes to make it obvious that we work together with everyone, and every one is appreciated and worth the positive feedback”, commented one of the teachers.
Teacher responses also demonstrated the immediate effects, which were related to the students’ uplifted mood. The positive feedback messages were found to bring happiness to the classroom and smiles to the students’ faces. Many teachers also reported students going back to their profiles to reread the messages, and the fact that all data is saved was found as a clear advantage of the program.
Teachers also reported about students’ language skills improvement. Students had learned to use the strength vocabulary better and were able to write positive feedback messages while putting meaning and thought into what they wrote.
With the help of the positive feedback, the students also improved their self-awareness. The teachers reported that the students had become more aware of their strengths and the qualities that they need to practice and could communicate this information in parent meetings, for example.
Positive impact on teacher wellbeing
When it comes to teachers themselves, it was clear from the responses that when students were getting better along, this had positive effects on the teachers. Many teachers described how their job had become easier since the classroom spirit had improved.
“The effects are evident. If your class has a better mood and the positive things are more on the table, that increases the amount of wellbeing in the classroom, making the teacher’s workload a lot smaller.” Comment from one of the teachers.
The research was done using a Finnish social-emotional learning online program Mightifier.
“Mightifier claims to have several positive impacts on student wellbeing, so it provided an exciting starting point for this study. Also, I have a strong personal interest in SEL, which needs to be acknowledged when reading about the outcomes. I am extremely thankful for all the teachers who participated in this research and for Mightifier for letting me include the program in my studies. It has been a project that I have enjoyed conducting and feel happy to be able to reveal the findings now”, Kurkilahti comments.
Mervi Pänkäläinen, CEO of Mightifier is delighted with the results from the research.
“We were delighted to be part of this research project. An education technology company must demonstrate an impact on student outcomes. We are very excited to learn about these great results of the study and thank the main researcher Iida Kurkilahti for her diligent work.”