Research Roundup: Social and Emotional Learning

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you.

While preparing the Research Roundup on Social and Emotional Learning for the Winter issue of YALS, I learned that there would be a flurry of publishing in late 2018 and early 2019 in the field of social and emotional learning. This update highlights some of these developments:

  • The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released From a Nation at Risk to a Nation of Hope in January 2019. It is the result of two years of study and conversations with experts, practitioners, and parents across the nation. It provides synthesis, case studies and recommendations for future work.  The report makes six recommendations:
    • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
    • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
    • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school wide practices.
    • Build adult expertise in child development.
    • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
    • Forge closer connections between research and practice by shifting the paradigm for how research gets done.
  • CASEL’s Measuring SEL: Using Data To Inspire Practice has published a number of research briefs. I found this brief particularly useful: Equity & Social and Emotional Learning: A Cultural Analysis. Measuring SEL also hosted two design challenges, which give you the chance to learn about SEL assessment tools developed by practitioners.
  • In December 2018, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published an issue brief Social and Emotional Development Matters: Taking Action Now for Future Generations which gives an overview of key findings and links to reports on specific aspects of SEL that the foundation developed from 2017 until now.
  • The University of Minnesota recently updated its SEL Toolkit. The toolkit uses the Ways of Being SEL Model developed by the University of Minnesota. It focuses on youth in middle school, but provides many activities that can be adjusted for other ages. Many of these activities are applicable to out-of-school time programming.

Submitted by Committee member Bernie Farrell.

#CulturalCompetence: Crowdsourced Syllabus-Style Resources for Increasing Cultural Competence Skills

As a member of YALSA’s Research Committee, I have been particularly interested in combining my own passion for social justice work and anti-bias curricula with the aims of YALSA’s Futures Report to increase cultural competency among YALSA members. I have found myself particularly interested in a plethora of crowdsourced resource lists, often described as “syllabi,” for which many educators and librarians have collaborated. Using social media and virtual connections, crowdsourced syllabi provide online resources for building cultural competence skills in a variety of subjects. Crowdsourced syllabi are accessible, editable, and shareable, and can be avenues for important and empowering discussions, reader’s advisory, and advocacy for the teens and communities which we serve.

The following syllabi have resulted from various current events and an ongoing push by teachers, librarians, and scholars to disseminate diverse texts that can help to fight inequities:

#CharlestonSyllabus: Conceived by Chad Williams, Associate Professor at Brandeis University, and later maintained by Keisha N. Blain, the Charleston Syllabus is an extensive resource list that includes historic overviews, Op-Eds and Editorials, specific readings on South Carolina and Charleston, and readings on white identity and white supremacy. While the syllabus was created as a response to the Charleston shootings, the compilation extends beyond a single event to address issues of race, history, and regionalism. The syllabus also includes lists of multimedia components including films, music, websites, and teaching handouts and also has a section specifically for young readers. The originally crowdsourced document was recently adapted into a published book, titled “Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence.”

#FergusonSyllabus: Marcia Chatelain’s article “How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson” became “a crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing” that particularly looks to teaching children and adolescents about race in the United States. Categories on the syllabus are: “Teaching About Race and Ferguson,” “African-American History/Civil Rights in the United States,” “Children’s Books,” “Community Organizing, Leadership, Activism,” “Educational Issues,” “Film,” “Media studies and Journalism,” “Music,” “Other Educational Hashtags on Twitter,” “Personal Reflections,” “Poetry,” “Policing,” and “Race and Violence in America.”

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Teen Research Trending: Mapping “boring” places—Socio-Spatial Research on Libraries

Ee, L. C. (2015). Mapping library spaces: Measuring the effectiveness of school libraries using a sociospatial approach. School Librarian, 63(2), 78-80.

As a PhD student writing a dissertation on geography in YA literature, I am a self-professed map lover. As a member of YALSA’s Research Committee, I’ve found myself increasingly intrigued with the physical and virtual mapping of our libraries and teen spaces. Loh Chin Ee’s 2015 article in School Librarian proposes a socio-spatial approach for librarians and school administrators to better understand how their libraries are being used. From the initial mapping of the physical space, allowing for recognition of resources and spatial relations, to the employment of ethnographic methods (observation, interviewing, and fieldnotes, in this particular study), Ee remarks on an underutilized school library space opening room for future research.

Focusing her study on a secondary school in Singapore, Ee sought to answer why students were under-utilizing the school’s library.  A preliminary report found that 40.9% of the school’s 1,113 students visited the library (and 21.8% visited at least once a week) and Ee remarked that the library felt empty during most of her visits. Ee illustrated a birds-eye view of the library and took pictures of particular spaces within the library, noting how each space was used. Ee recorded the usage of the library through various times of the day (morning, recess, afternoon), and noted that the space was also used as a space for meetings, hosting foreign visitors, and after school detention. Additionally, she interviewed students on their perceptions of the library, as space can motivate desire and action (Moje, Overby, Tysvaer, & Morris, 2008). Students frequently called the library “boring” and the library was seen as both a “dead space” (with little student engagement) and a “negative space” (as associated with detention) (p. 80).

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Teen Research Trending: Serving Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Bress, Andrea.  “Making Your School Library More Functional to Individuals with Autism.”  Library Media Connection, 32 (Aug./Sep. 2013):  46-7.

Though not a research article, strictly speaking, this practitioner-oriented essay makes ample use of research on autism and library services for people with autism.  This article is one of several dissemination activities that grew out of the recent PALS Project, a Florida State University (FSU) project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The principal investigator was Dr. Nancy Everhart, a professor in the FSU School of Information, and the co-principal investigator was Dr. Juliann Woods, a professor in the FSU School of Communication Science and Disorders and associate director for research to practice at the Autism Institute.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that Drs. Everhart and Woods and colleagues of mine; however, I was not involved in this project.)  Andrea Bress was a student in the School of Communication Science and Disorders and a member of the PALS Project research team at the time this article was written.  Three other members of the team were doctoral students Amelia Anderson and Abigail Delehanty and Lezlie Cline, project manager for the Florida Center for Interactive Media.

Bress’s article does not mention Project PALS specifically nor does it focus exclusively on young adults, but all of the information and advice provided certainly can apply to any young adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  She notes that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every eighty-eight children is diagnosed with ASD, and she adds that libraries have the potential to be safe, comfortable places for individuals with ASD.  In order for that to happen, librarians need to be aware of the kind of environment these individuals need in order to function best.  Specifically, a quiet place with low lighting, good signage, accessible technology, and no clutter is an optimal environment.  Routine is highly valued by individuals with ASD, so keeping materials, furniture, and technology in their regular, predictable locations is important.  Because interacting with others can be stressful, making self-checkout kiosks available can help make borrowing materials more user-friendly.

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Teen research trending: Margaret Mackey and the problem of finding your next read

This is the first of a series of monthly posts that the YALSA Research Committee would like to share with the YA LIS community. These posts will reflect some of the many publications that we encounter in the process of updating YALSA’s Research Bibliography for the 2013-2015 period. The emphasis of the bibliography will be LIS research, but some of these posts will also share research from other disciplines such as Education, Media, Urban Studies etc., where teens are also protagonists. Posts will briefly summarize the article and highlight some important points for LIS practice, but each of the authors will bring a different flavor. Hopefully you will find them useful to inspire and support your work and knowledge about teens!!

Mackey, Margaret. “Finding the Next Book to Read in a Universe of Bestsellers, Blockbusters, and Spin-Offs.”  Academic Quarter (Akademisk Kvarter):  The Academic Journal for Research from the Humanities, 7 (2013): 216-236. http://www.akademiskkvarter.hum.aau.dk/pdf/vol7/15a_MargaretMackey_Finding%20The%20Next.pdf

Respecting mass choices but not being confined to them requires walking a fine line, but it is an important space to find. (p.133)

Margaret Mackey is a Canadian scholar who has been writing about reading and literacies in a broad sense for the past 25 years. If you are familiar or enjoyed the work of Eliza Dresang, I think you might also enjoy this. Yes, this is a blatant attempt to do reader’s advisory about research.

The quote that introduces this post reflects a struggle with which many librarians must contend everyday. We would like to see that important space of reading selection not only found, but also clearly occupied by libraries and librarians. In exploring how to take over this space, Mackey examines the role that bestsellers play, especially when they are becoming increasingly adapted into diverse types of media.

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