White Paper 1

A Frame work for Socio-Emotional Skills, Supports and Equity

Evaluating evidence about the relations among children’s prior history, engagement in program settings, resulting SEL skill growth, and ultimately desired transfer outcomes (e.g., agency to succeed in other settings) has been sporadic. This is true because the positivist theory and methodology most researchers and evaluators employ is poorly suited to formative explanation and more nuanced impact models that address questions about how and how much – the explanatory information necessary for improvement. QTurn’s Quality-Outcomes Design and Methods (Q-ODM) toolbox was created to address these fundamental problems in evaluation of 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 integrated mental and behavioral parts and processes – schemas, beliefs, awareness, and agency – that are socio-emotional skills. With improved definitions of SEL skill, and causes of change in SEL skill, we hope to improve reasoning about policies for socio-emotional supports in any setting where children spend time. Perhaps most importantly, we hope to improve the validity of measurement and evidence about the effects of program quality on child outcomes in these settings. Building from the Socio-Emotional Skills Framework, issues related to valid SEL measurement are covered in QTurn’s White Paper #2, Guidance for Measuring Socio-Emotional Skills. Issues related to improving the validity of impact evaluation designs for OST programs is covered in QTurn’s White Paper #3, Guidance for the Quality-Outcomes Evaluation Design and Measures.


Citation: Peck, S. C., & Smith, C., (2020). A framework for socio-emotional skills, supports, and equity [White Paper #1]. Ypsilanti, MI: QTurn.

QTurn’s Quality-Outcomes Design and Methods (Q-ODM) Infographic