Evaluation evidence about the relations among children’s prior history, engagement in program settings, resulting SEL skill growth, and the ultimately desired transfer outcomes (e.g., agency to succeed in other settings) has been sporadic and fragmented. One reason for this may be that the positivist theory and methodology used by most researchers and evaluators is poorly suited to the formative explanations that guide continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes. As a result, we lack nuanced impact models that address questions about how and how much, or the information necessary for organizational decision-making. QTurn’s Quality-Outcomes Design and Methods (Q-ODM) toolbox (Peck & Smith, 2020) was created to address these fundamental problems in the evaluation of education settings, with a specific focus on out-of-school time (OST; afterschool, child care, drop-in, mentoring, tutoring, etc.) programs.
In this white paper, we introduce a theoretical framework designed to describe the integrated set of mental and behavioral parts and processes (i.e., schemas, beliefs, and awareness) that are socio-emotional skills and that produce both basic and advanced forms of agency. With improved definitions and understanding of SEL skills, and the causes of SEL skill growth, we hope to improve reasoning about programs and policies for socio-emotional supports in any setting where children spend time. Perhaps most importantly, we hope to inform policy decisions and advance applied developmental science by improving the accuracy and meaningfulness of basic data on children’s SEL skill growth.
Citation: Peck, S. C., & Smith, C., (2020). Socio-Emotional Skills, Quality, and Equity: The Multilevel Person-in-Context~neuroperson (MPCn) Framework. [White Paper #1].