Social-emotional learning programs and training

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Research shows the importance of teacher training on SEL

Ongoing research by the University of Malta aims to discover the impact of social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom using Mightifier as a tool. The study is led by Jessica Camilleri Galea, a researcher from the University of Malta, who is doing her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Management.

The study is conducted as a qualitative project with focus groups of teachers and students who have used Mightifier for the past academic year. The results will be published in due course.

The researcher has set her eyes on finding out what tool Mightifier has provided for implementing and embracing SEL in a school environment.

“My heart is in SEL. I completed my undergraduate psychology degree and later studied further to become a teacher. I love that SEL has the base in psychological research, which is why I wanted to study that in my Master’s research project”, says Jessica Camilleri Galea.

Focus group of 9-11 year old students

Two classes of students and their teachers from St Paul’s Missionary College in Malta have been participating in the study. The students are 9-11-years old. After using the program for the whole academic year, teachers and students participated in focus groups. The plan is to have focus groups also with the parents and the senior leadership team from the school.

So far, the focus groups have revealed that the students have clearly enjoyed the program and would like to continue using it the following year. They have gained a better understanding of themselves and increased their self-awareness, as well as started to feel better about themselves and understand the uniqueness in everyone.

‘Feedback round’ the key feature for students

The feedback round was clearly the most important feature for the students. The students also thought that writing the positive feedback with a tablet rather than having to practice saying it face-to-face made practising much easier. Later on, they were able to transfer this behaviour more and more to real life, see good things in one another, and also say these out loud.

“Mightifier helped many people to be more encouraged and feel special.”
“I am shy to say how I feel towards others face to face, but it was easier doing it online.”
“When I feel sad, I go back and read the feedback sent by my friends. It makes me feel better”.

In addition, it was interesting to notice that the students went to read their previous feedback whenever they were feeling down. It became a place where they could boost their self-confidence and notice that other people have seen good in them.

Teachers want more training on SEL

The teachers’ focus groups revealed that the teachers would also like to continue using the program and spoke very highly about it. However, the lack of training on SEL was evident and would need more focus in the future.

As one of the focus group teachers said: “…training for us in positive education would help; it would be great if our practices were more in line with positive education.”

Another finding from the teacher and student focus group was that there seemed to be a need for time to talk through the feedback and the feelings they created.

“To process and discuss SEL-related themes, Mightifier had been the tool that provided the natural opening for those types of sessions”, the leading researcher Galea explains.

So far, the main finding from the research shows that teacher training combined with lifelong learning on SEL is crucial to deliver high-quality and effective SEL in schools. In addition, feedback writing and learning to talk about issues is a learning path that requires time. That is why the programs introduced in schools must be long-lasting and well-planned, and based on research and practice.