The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions


  • This article is based on grants from the William T. Grant Foundation, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, and the University of Illinois at Chicago awarded to the first and second authors. We also wish to express our appreciation to David DuBois, Mark Lipsey, Mark Greenberg, Mary Utne O’Brien, John Payton, and Richard Davidson, who provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. We offer additional thanks to Mark Lipsey and David Wilson for providing the macros used to calculate effects and conduct the statistical analyses. A copy of the coding manual used in this meta-analysis is available on request from the first author.

concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph A. Durlak, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, or Roger P. Weissberg, Department of Psychology (MC 285), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 West Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7137. Electronic mail may be sent to or


This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of 4 recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.