A self-determination approach to socioemotional learning: Supporting students' needs as an essential foundation for the cultivation of socioemotional skills

Avi Assor, Noam Yitshaki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Based on self-determination theory and research, we suggest that SEL programs should focus primarily on enhancing teachers' capacity to support students' basic psychological needs via practices that mostly do not involve teaching of skills via a pre-determined curriculum. This view is based on evidence that teachers can best facilitate students' socioemotional functioning and well-being by prac-tices supporting their needs. Teaching socioemotional skills may also contribute to need satisfaction and subsequent optimal functioning, but only when teachers support students' needs. Given that the learning and effective application of need-supporting practices is a very demanding task, social and emotional learning (SEL) programs should invest most of their efforts in enhancing teachers' capacity to apply need-supporting practices, rather than in teaching a curriculum of skills. We show that there is no conclusive evidence for the effectiveness of SEL programs focusing only on skills. We describe the negative effects that programs focusing only on skills teaching may have on teachers' thinking, practice, and role definition and on resource allocation by policymakers. Moreover, skills-only programs may contribute to the missing of an important opportunity to use the current interest in SEL as a catalyst for a significant change in the ways teachers relate to their students and construct learning processes and contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelf-Determination Theory and Socioemotional Learning
PublisherSpringer Nature
Pages269-294
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789819978977
ISBN (Print)9789819978960
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology

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