Distinguished Scientists, Scholars Announce Research Consensus On How People Learn

September 13, 2017

They call for full integration of social, emotional, and academic development in K-12 education

Contact: Melissa Mellor
Melissa.Mellor@AspenInstitute.org  | (202) 736-3552

Livestream of Event Begins at 9 a.m. EDT

Washington, DC, September 13, 2017— An alliance of leading scientists and scholars has collaborated to articulate the scientific consensus regarding how people learn. In a research brief released today, they affirm the interconnectedness of social, emotional, and academic development as central to the learning process. The alliance reflects a united and powerful voice calling for the full integration of the social, emotional, and academic dimensions of learning in K-12 schools.

Under the aegis of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, the 28-member Council of Distinguished Scientists unanimously developed and endorsed the research brief, which includes a set of consensus statements and the research behind them. The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development draws from brain science, medicine, economics, psychology, and education research.

“This body of research demonstrates what parents have always known—the success of young people in school and beyond is inextricably linked to healthy social and emotional development, such as the ability to pay attention, understand and manage emotions, and work effectively in a team,” said Stephanie Jones, an author of the report who is a professor at Harvard University and a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists. “The evidence should move us beyond debate as to whether schools should address students’ social and emotional learning to how schools can effectively integrate social, emotional, and academic development into their daily work.”

The research brief will be presented today from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. EDT, at the Aspen Institute, 1 Dupont Circle NW, 7th Floor. Reporters can attend the event or view the live stream on the Aspen Institute’s website. The event features a panel of scientists, education leaders, and philanthropists discussing cutting-edge research being done in the field and directions for future study.

The Council of Distinguished Scientists spent nearly a year analyzing research with the greatest relevance for policy and practice. The research brief elevates this significant research base, establishing the array of positive student and societal outcomes that improve when social and emotional development is nurtured alongside academics. The Evidence Base for How We Learn describes why it is essential to address the social and emotional dimensions of learning, how these dimensions together shape students’ academic and life outcomes, and how these competencies can be taught throughout childhood, adolescence, and beyond.

The consensus statements of evidence are a resource for policymakers and educators to confidently move forward in addressing social and emotional dimensions of learning as part and parcel of achieving excellent academic outcomes in K-12 education.

“Science establishes that social, emotional, and cognitive domains are interdependent in learning,” said Jaqueline Jodl, the director of the National Commission. “This foundational knowledge creates opportunities to improve educational and life outcomes for our nation’s youth and sets the stage for a next generation of research that closes the gap between what we know about how students learn and how to best facilitate learning in our classrooms, schools, and communities.”

“All children deserve the opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed as individuals and contributing, engaged citizens,” said Timothy Shriver, a co-chair of the National Commission, and the chairman of Special Olympics and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. “This research consensus is a very significant step forward for the field.”

Event speakers will include:

  • Stephanie Jones, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Camille Farrington, Senior Research Associate and Managing Director, University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
  • Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Professor of Education, Psychology, and Neuroscience, University of Southern California
  • Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University; Director, Rutgers’ Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab
  • Oscar Barbarin, Professor, University of Maryland

A cross-sector panel will weigh in on the implications for schools and communities from the perspectives of research, policy, practice, and philanthropy.

Panelists will include:

  • Antwan Wilson, Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools; Commissioner, National Commission
  • Marc Brackett, Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; Professor, Yale Child Study Center; Council of Distinguished Scientists
  • Zoe Stemm-Calderon, Director, Education, Raikes Foundation; Funders Collaborative
  • Jim Balfanz, President, City Year; Council of Distinguished Educators

About the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
The National Commission is engaging and energizing communities to fully integrate social, emotional, and academic development in K-12 education so that all students are prepared to thrive in school, career, and life. To learn more, visit www.AspenSEAD.org and follow the Commission on Twitter at @AspenSEAD.

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, D.C., and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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