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Digital SEL Dynamics Project

The project, funded by the Jacobs Foundation, aims to investigate the integration of digital technology in school-wide Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. Despite the known benefits of SEL, its implementation in schools is slow and its effects often diminish over time. Digital technology, particularly AI and Machine Learning, presents an opportunity to personalize and enhance learning both inside and outside the classroom. The project will study how digital platforms can support SEL in various educational settings, focusing on the resilience and risk experiences of students and educators. It seeks to identify key facilitators and barriers to effective SEL implementation, innovative strategies used by teachers and administrators, and how these vary across different socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. By employing a multi-level and multi-method approach, the project intends to bridge the gap between research and practice in SEL, exploring how technology can aid or impede the achievement of social and emotional learning goals, with the ultimate aim of fully realizing the potential of educational technology in enhancing SEL practices.

More about the Project

Funding Source: Jacobs Foundation (January 2024 - December 2026) 

While growing evidence has supported the positive impact of school-wide SEL programs and practices on students' development and learning, evidence-based SEL programs and practices have been slow to enter typical education settings and their effects tend to fade over time. Education technology holds enormous promise to address this issue through personalizing learning, engaging the disengaged, complementing what happens in the classroom, extending learning outside the classroom, and providing access to students who otherwise might not have sufficient educational opportunities. However, we have a limited understanding of how digital technology can be leveraged to improve teachers' and young learners’ actionable and sustainable engagement and implementation in school-wide SEL practices and programs.


With funding support from the Jacobs Foundation (, this project will focus on studying the role of digital technology in shaping the risk and resilience experiences of students and educators and in leveraging young learners' and their teachers' actionable and sustainable engagement and implementation with school-wide SEL. We will study school/district sites, where a digital platform with Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) functioning is implemented in three distinct stages to improve students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. The project aims to (1) identify the main facilitators and barriers contributing to actionable and sustainable implementation; 2) identify innovative, feasible, and cost-effective implementation strategies used by teachers and administrators that could improve students’ learning; 3) examine how above implementation determinants and outcomes vary depending on the diverse socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and cultural/linguistic backgrounds and contexts of teachers as individuals and groups. We will use a multi-level and multi-method approach to examine how digital technology interacts with school-wide SEL implementation conditions and contexts to influence students’ learning and development in authentic educational settings.


This project will help address some of the research-practice gaps by exploring the role of digital technology in school-wide SEL implementation and the conditions under which technology can assist or hinder students and their teachers in achieving their full potential in terms of social and emotional learning and teaching. The long-term goal of this project is to help unlock education technology’s full potential in scaling up school-wide SEL practices and maximizing its impact on learning and development.


Project in progress


Project in progress

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