- According to neuroscientist and former seventh grade science teacher Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, who has written a new book called "Emotions, Learning and the Brain," concrete and personal experiences are key for students trying to understand abstract concepts, and social-emotional learning can spark engagement.
- Immordino-Yang called it "biologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don't care about " in an interview with The New York Times, and that idea, she said, can be applied across different subjects and disciplines.
- Emotional engagement and learning has a proven effect on brain activity as evidenced by MRI brain scans, showing that engaged students show more activity in their brain's cortex and brain stem.
Most recently, the realization that social-emotional skills need to have standardized measures of accountability has seeped into the K-12 landscape. Experts at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference said such standards are needed if SEL is going to play a continued role in K-12 education.
The trend of attending to social-emotional learning in K-12 schools continues to pick up steam, and California will begin testing students for character in fall 2016. “Soft skills” associated with emotional intelligence are more likely than academic skills to keep students from running afoul of the law, and they play a key role in certain initiatives aimed at high-risk students.
Yet defining standards will be difficult for school systems. Some caution against a proclivity towards testing, saying character traits like grit and resilience should not be subjected to standardized testing, since there is so much variation inherent in the growth and demonstration of these characteristics.