What We've Learned

The findings from the SCoPE project have made strong contributions to the existing literature on social emotional learning curriculum and instruction and their applications to marginalized communities. Recent briefs, webinars, and academic publications produced in connection with the SCoPE project are presented below.

Briefs, Webinars, and Other Media

Rivas-Drake, D., Rosario-Ramos, E., McGovern, G., Jagers, R.J. (2021) Rising up together: Spotlighting transformative SEL in practice with Latinx youth. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Chicago, IL. https://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SEL-Rising-Up-Together.pdf.

Since the introduction of transformative SEL, questions have arisen about what it looks like in practice. We are continuing to learn and share through research-practice partnerships about effective practices, programs, professional learning, and assessments to guide implementation toward the goals of transformative SEL. This brief is part of our initial efforts to illustrate transformative SEL in practice based on surveys with youth, interviews with teachers, and observations during dedicated SEL instruction time in a predominantly Latinx school in a large urban district.

Pereida, Rubén. (2020, July 12). Conversations at Home Motivate Hispanic Youth to Be Engaged in Their Community, Study Finds. Telemundo. https://www.telemundo.com/noticias/2020/07/12/las-conversaciones-en-el-hogar-motivan-los-jovenes-hispanos-ser-comprometidos-con-su-tmvo9507898.

Title in Spanish: Telemundo (7/2020) – “Las conversaciones en el hogar motivan los jovenes hispanos ser comprometidos con su comunidad”

A survey by the University of Michigan reveals that when young Latinos talk with their parents about current issues, they are more responsible with their community and are concerned about its well-being.

Jagers, R. J., Rivas-Drake, D., & Borowski, T. (2018). Equity & social and emotional learning: A cultural analysis. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Chicago, IL. https://measuringsel.casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Frameworks-Equity.pdf

Social and emotional learning (SEL) has the potential to help mitigate the interrelated legacies of racial and class oppression in the U.S. and globally. Currently, that potential is under-realized. In this brief, we outline how CASEL’s core SEL competencies reflect issues of equity, highlight programs and practices that support the development of these competencies to promotes educational equity, and offer some implications for the growing demand for SEL assessments. This brief is part of our initial efforts to analyze, revise, and supplement what is known about SEL to foster the development of citizens who contribute to an increasingly interconnected, diverse global community.


McGovern, G., Pinetta, B. J., Montoro, J. M., Channey J. A., Rosario-Ramos, E., & Rivas-Drake, D. (Under review). Stretching Towards Social Justice: A Case Study of Transformative Social and Emotional Learning.

In this case study, we explored: how do teachers modify their SEL teaching practices and curricula to incorporate a transformative SEL focus on community issues and social justice? Drawing on data from a larger longitudinal, sequential quantitative-qualitative mixed method project, we illustrate how teachers at one school stretched from traditionally social justice-evasive notions of SEL to more proactively engage social justice issues in their SEL implementation in four key ways: Connecting through Language, Connecting to Students’ Social Identities, Addressing Social Issues, and Encouraging Civic Engagement and Activism. We conclude with support for teachers interested in adapting these practices in their classrooms.

Rosario-Ramos, E., Rivas-Drake, D., & Jagers, R. (forthcoming fall 2021). Implementing SEL with an equity lens: The role of “stretch” in teachers’ practice. In: N. Yoder & A. Skoog-Hoffman (Eds). Motivating the SEL field forward through equity (pp. XXX-XXX). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

In communities that face injustice on a virtually daily basis, it is disingenuous at best and potentially harmful at worst, to engage in social and emotional learning (SEL) efforts without attending to historical and contemporary systems that underlie conditions of inequity in well-being and health. Yet, SEL efforts have traditionally evaded or been silent on issues of (in)equity, and thus critiqued for their lack of attention to how social injustices create different outcomes for different groups and for placing the burden on individual youth to navigate challenges to SEL without recognizing the influence of systems (Ginwright, 2016; Love, 2019). A social justice framing of SEL is needed to recognize how opportunities for, and challenges to, social and emotional well-being are not equally distributed across minoritized groups. The goal of this chapter is to introduce the concept of stretching of SEL practice as a key mechanism for thinking about how teachers navigate equity issues in implementing SEL.

McGovern, G., Ackerman, C., Rivas-Drake, D., & Skoog-Hoffman, A. (forthcoming fall 2021). The motivating affordances of research-practice partnerships for examining SEL instruction. In: N. Yoder & A. Skoog-Hoffman (Eds). Motivating the SEL field forward through equity (pp. XXX-XXX). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

Across the U.S., school leaders are realizing the potential for social and emotional learning (SEL) to be used as a critical lever for students’ equitable access to full participation in social and civic life. Researchers and practitioners seek to understand how teachers can elevate student voice, increase students’ sense of agency, and promote civic engagement through SEL instruction. The School and Community Pathways for Engagement (SCoPE) Project brought together teams from a large, urban school district in the midwestern United States, the University of Michigan, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in a research-practice partnership (RPP) to examine these pertinent challenges. This chapter demonstrates how the purposeful establishing of and fostering collaborative relationships between researchers and practitioners in the SCoPE project motivated deeper investment and equity of voice for all stakeholders involved. This chapter specifically discusses the motivational affordances of the RPP approach during participant recruitment, data collection, and data sharing for the SCoPE Project.

Pinetta, B. J., Blanco Martinez, S., Cross, F. L., & Rivas‐Drake, D. (2020). Inherently Political? Associations of Parent Ethnic–Racial Socialization and Sociopolitical Discussions with Latinx Youths’ Emergent Civic Engagement. American Journal of Community Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12435

The current study expands on ethnic–racial socialization (ERS) among Latinx families to include sociopolitical discussions as a way to better understand how these practices relate to adolescents’ developmental outcomes, including their ethnic–racial identity (ERI) and their sociopolitical development. More specifically, we examined whether there were direct links between parental ERS practices and sociopolitical discussions at home and adolescents’ emergent participatory citizenship via their ERI processes (i.e., exploration and resolution). These questions were examined using path analyses with 267 self-identified Latinx early adolescents (Mage = 11.88, SD = 1.22; girls = 54.3%). Results revealed direct associations between sociopolitical discussions and cultural socialization at home with civic accountability. Thus, youth whose parents had engaged in more discussions with them about current political issues and who taught them about their ethnic heritage and history endorsed a greater sense of collective responsibility for helping community members in need. Additionally, preparation for bias and sociopolitical discussions at home were each uniquely associated with more ERI exploration, and each was also indirectly associated with expectations for future community involvement via youths’ ERI exploration. Our findings come at a critical juncture in time, providing insight into ways we can support the positive ERI development and build the civic capacity of Latinx adolescents.

Jagers, R. J., Rivas-Drake, D., & Williams, B. (2019). Transformative social and emotional learning (SEL): Toward SEL in service of educational equity and excellence. Educational Psychologist, 54(3), 162–184. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2019.1623032

This article seeks to develop transformative social and emotional learning (SEL), a form of SEL intended to promote equity and excellence among children, young people, and adults. We focus on issues of race/ethnicity as a first step toward addressing the broader range of extant inequities. Transformative SEL is anchored in the notion of justice-oriented citizen-ship, and we discuss issues of culture, identity, agency, belonging, and engagement as relevant expressions of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning 5 core competencies. We also point to programs and practices that hold promise for cultivating these competencies and the importance of adult professional development in making these efforts maximally effective for diverse children and youth. We conclude by offering a few next steps to further advance transformative SEL research and practice.


  • Pinetta, B., Channey, J., Bañales, J., & Rivas-Drake, D. (postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). Schools and Latinx adolescents’ civic attitudes. Biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Diego, CA.

  • VanAusdal, K., Jagers, R., Skoog-Hoffman, A., McGovern, G., Moore, E., Hayes, B., & Shaffer, T. (2020, October; postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). Research-practice partnerships: Examples from large school districts. CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Exchange, Chicago, IL.

  • Blanco Martinez, S., Pinetta, B., & Rivas-Drake, D. (2020, March; postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). From home to the streets: Can cultural socialization foster Latinx adolescents’ social responsibility? Biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Diego, CA.

  • Rivas-Drake, D. (2021). Owning the politics of our research: What place does racism and xenophobia have in the study of adolescence? Invited Keynote for Society for Research on Adolescence Conference, San Diego, CA.

  • Rivas-Drake, D. (2020). When the goal is racial justice: Learning from youth, families, and educators. SRCD Child Development in a Diverse Majority Society Lecture Series: Construction of the “Other”: Two Complementary Perspectives on Discrimination, Social Exclusion, and Inequalities.

  • Rivas-Drake, D. (2020). When the goal is racial justice: Learning from youth, families, and educators. Dean’s Lecture Series. Penn State University College of Health and Human Development.

  • Rivas-Drake, D. (2020). The future of equity in research on social, emotional, and academic development. Panelist for roundtable hosted by The Education Trust.

  • Skoog-Hoffman, A., Ackerman, C., McGovern, G., & Moore, E. (2019, October) What happens when practitioners and researchers build authentic relationships: Design-based research and tackling SEL implementation obstacles. CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Exchange, Chicago, IL.