What is socio-emotional Learning (SEL)?

Students learn in collaboration with peers and teachers and family encouragement. Students’ emotions as influenced by the level and type of classroom collaboration can enhance or impede their academic performance, commitment, and working ethics. This is because the emotional status determines the relationship an individual develops towards others and affects self-esteem and self-control. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is important for promoting social-emotional competencies that influence well-being; better academic performance; increases ability to work well with others, practice acceptable behaviors self-awareness, social awareness, responsible and reasonable decision making, self-management, and relationship skills. In a classroom setting SEL can be achieved through personalized learning to enhance intrapersonal competencies and differentiation learning to enhance social and emotional competencies. Self awareness can be achieved through personalized learning.

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Personalized learning helps the student discover their personal potentials, interests, and talents. It also promotes the students to set targets and define and express their positions and emotions on learning. Personalized learning motivates students at individual level and helps the students develop unique identity with peers. Self awareness can be enhanced by differentiation learning. In a classroom setting, differentiation learning involves three elements of differentiation – by task, by outcome, and by support. Differentiation is where tasks are classified according to level of complexity (William, 2007; Heacox, 2002; O’Brien & Guiney, 2001). Simpler tasks would easily be accomplished because it focuses on the discipline basics. Student that cannot score well in such are considered to have not retained the basics. On the other hand complex task focuses on advanced concepts and application of the knowledge and can only be handled better by students that have retained and understand the fundamental concepts and principles. Student that cannot perform better in this are considered slow learners. Identifying the ability of the students basing on the performance of tasks is differentiation by outcome, which identify the best, average, and weak (slow learners) students (O’Brien & Guiney, 2001; Nygaard et al., 2009; Arthur & Cremin, 2010). In this regard, differentiations by task and by outcomes are functional behavioral assessment (FBA) approaches.

Differentiation by support follows differentiation by outcome or assessment of personalized learning where students are grouped in smaller social-learning groups hence it is a problem solving approach. Here the best students are distributed in small groups consisting of average and weak students where they teach and motivate one another through group discussions or collaborative learning (Nygaard et al., 2009; Bird & Mackinnon, 2000). The role of the teacher is to coordinate the process, encourage, and monitor the outcomes.

The best methodology is the use of artistic expression (intrapersonal) and multiple intelligences (interpersonal) through personal and differentiation learning. Personalized learning promotes self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making. This is also enhanced by differentiation learning by tasks and outcome. On the other hand, differentiation learning by support is vital in promoting social awareness, emotions, and relationship skills (Avis et al., 2009). Therefore, personalized and differentiation learning are vital in promoting learning and retention of knowledge in students.




Arthur, J. & Cremin, T. (2010). Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Oxon: Taylor & Francis

Avis, J., Fisher, R. & Thompson, R. (2009). Teaching in Lifelong Learning. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill International

Bird, G. & Mackinnon, C. (2000). Accessing the Curriculum: Strategies for Differentiation for Pupils with Down Syndrome, Part 1. Hampshire: DSE Enterprises

Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners, Grades 3-12. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing

Nygaard, C., Holtham, C. & Courtney, N. (2009). Improving Students’ Learning Outcomes. Frederiksberg: Copenhagen Business School Press DK

O’Brien, T. & Guiney, D. (2001). Differentiation in Teaching and Learning. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group

William, R.B. (2007). Multiple Intelligences for Differentiated Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

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