Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Promising Study Supports Basis for SEL Inclusion in Curriculum

Over the course of the last decade plus, the United States has become a nation of over-tested students and over taxed school districts. As a product, students are forced to meet nationalized standards which link teacher ratings and student test scores. Besides the obvious, and well-documented, problems associated with such a “one-size fits all” rating system , this trend reduces the totality of education to a score on a state test. In addition, there is growing anxiety and depression among school aged youth which is more likely to compound the problems first precipitating the rise of educational standards. Such a system disregards the uniqueness of individual students, their abilities, learning styles, and strengths.

Among other research, a Belgian Study seems to lend support for the inclusion of Social Emotional Learning Theory into school curriculum as a method of alleviating student depression and anxiety and which could have multiple long-term benefits .

According to the report in Ku Leuven via Alpha Galileo Foundation (available at this link):

“this is the first time the method has been studied in a large group of adolescents in a school-based setting, using a randomised controlled design. The study was carried out at five middle schools in Flanders, Belgium. About 400 students between the ages of 13 and 20 took part. The students were divided into a test group and a control group. The test group received mindfulness training, and the control group received no training. Before the study, both groups completed a questionnaire with questions indicative of depression, stress or anxiety symptoms. Both groups completed the questionnaire again directly after the training, and then a third time six months later.


Before the start of the training, both the test group (21%) and the control group (24%) had a similar percentage of students reporting evidence of depression. After the mindfulness training, that number was significantly lower in the test group: 15% versus 27% in the control group. This difference persisted six months after the training: 16% of the test group versus 31% of the control group reported evidence of depression. The results suggest that mindfulness can lead to a decrease in symptoms associated with depression and, moreover, that it protects against the later development of depression-like symptoms.”

Raising national educational standards is and has been needed, however, if we fail to incorporate other necessary elements that gives students the opportunity to learn and flourish, we are setting up our schools and our students for failure. Simplistic measures can have enormous negative impact.

The original study is by Filip Raes, James W. Griffith, Katleen Gucht, J. Mark G. Williams. Titled: School-Based Prevention and Reduction of Depression in Adolescents: a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness Group Program. Published in Mindfulness, 2013  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12671-013-0202-1

This story is sourced from material found  at Science Daily.


Written by Michelle Sicignano, LMSW
Staff Writter, SJS


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  1. Michelle May 23, 2013

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