Identifying, Defining, and Measuring Social and Emotional Competencies

Michelle R. Same
Elizabeth Nolan
Deaweh Benson
Naomi Jacobs

Strong social and emotional (SE) competencies are essential for young people to succeed in school, work, and life. Reviews of SE competency frameworks and indicators increase understanding of what competencies are critical for healthy development and how to measure them.

With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AIR conducted a comprehensive scan and analysis of social and emotional competency frameworks from over 20 areas of study, spanning from school-based competency development, positive youth development, and character education, to foster care, juvenile justice, and public health. The search focused on childhood through early adulthood.

The scan was guided by the following research questions:

  • What are relevant fields, and what is their orientation toward social and emotional development?
  • What are the major frameworks or models that identify SE competencies in each of these fields? What are the similarities and differences between frameworks?
  • What are the competencies identified by the frameworks?
  • Do the key competencies have associated measures? If not, does their ability to be measured and their malleability suggest that it would be useful to invest in measurement work regarding the particular competencies?

This report provides a database of the diverse frameworks and competencies identified in the scan, as well as related measures, which can serve as a guide for researchers and practitioners who are interested in identifying and making decisions about what social and emotional competency frameworks, competencies, and measures to use in their own work. Results from the study can also help the field develop better measures of social and emotional competencies for use in research and practice.

Juliette Berg
Principal Researcher
David Osher
Vice President and Institute Fellow