The Hard Science of Soft Skills

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Senior Honors Projects

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DeCollibus, Marisa J.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL); Mindfulness; The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale- Adolescents (MASS-A); The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM); Devereux Student Strengths Assessment – mini (DESSA-mini); Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Mindfulness, The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale- Adolescents (MASS-A), The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM), Devereux Student Strengths Assessment – mini (DESSA-mini)
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In the American education system, students’ abilities in subjects like math and social studies are calculated using quantitative metrics. When it comes to their social and emotional skills, these same systems of evaluation may not be transferable. As schools begin to invest resources in social and emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness programs, it becomes even more important to investigate and understand rigorous methods of evaluation. These methods must be able to offer an accurate picture of a student’s diverse set of social and emotional skills including competencies in self/social awareness, good decision making, and community engagement, to name a few. Beyond this, schools need to be equipped with valid measures to determine if the programs they implement actually increase these skills in their students.The current study aimed to first examine the psychometric properties of two mindfulness self-report surveys, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale – Adolescents (MASS-A) and the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM), as well as one SEL external rater survey titled Devereux Student Strengths Assessment – mini (DESSA-mini). Its second goal was to identify a survey that is sensitive to the type of SEL and mindfulness programming the Center for Resilience offers students in an urban charter middle school.Pre- and post-tests were given to students both in the fall before they started the curriculum with the Center for Resilience and in the spring after completing most of the program. The surveys themselves were analyzed for their psychometric properties using coefficient alphas, and a Pearson correlation matrix was calculated among all variables. Paired-sample t-tests were usedto assess potential changes in students’ scores from the first to second testing periods.This study has the potential to contribute to the rapidly growing area of mindfulness in education research. Little has been written on the mindfulness measures in comparison to each other, as they have only recently been developed. It also has the potential to encourage a deeper understanding for how the two constructs of mindfulness and social and emotional learning are supported as individual constructs and how they might relate to each other. Lastly, the current research can act as an informative tool for other SEL/mindfulness programs looking to better study the efficacy of their own curricula.