Study: SEL tends to produce more engaged citizens, increased voter turnout
- A new Princeton study examined the long-term effects of a 20-year-old program known as Fast Track, one of the earliest and largest programs designed to improve life outcomes for at-risk students by teaching psychosocial skills.
- John Holbein, author of the study, notes that increasing a child’s capacity for self-control and self-efficacy may help them overcome barriers to education such as registration, assessing candidates, and navigating the logistics of voting.
- The study also points out that increasing empathy in a child is more likely to help them recognize societal problems that affect others and thus make them more likely to vote as adults because altruism is "a known predictor of civic participation."
A 2015 study funded by the Robert Wood Foundation has already assessed the Fast Track program and concluded that kindergarten students who are more inclined to exhibit social competency skills are more likely to achieve have higher paying jobs and less likely to require government assistance. Another 2015 study examined how Fast Track affected adverse outcomes, such as criminal and anti-social behavior in adults. This new Princeton study, released in August, demonstrates the effects of the Fast Track program on the development of citizenship.
The need for good citizenship skills is especially important in an American representative democracy. This is why the U.S. Department of Education issued a call to action in advancing civic learning in 2012. If citizens are to have a voice in our form of government, they need to understand the civil ways to make their voice heard.
More programs incorporating civics in social-emotional learning are now available, making it easier for schools to incorporate these ideals. Evidence seems to be slowly growing to support the notion that social emotional learning is needed to help develop good people and good citizens.