An Application to Enhance Social-Emotional Learning in Displaced Settings

May 1, 2021

By Sam Wickham, Jaymie Zapata, Christina Alva, and Alexa Wilder

High-quality education equips students with far more than just facts and frameworks – it also encourages psychosocial wellbeing across the lifecourse. Holistic learning models like Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) emphasize the development of inter- and intrapersonal skills in addition to class subject matter. Effective SEL curricula build skills like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making to set students up for success in and out of the classroom. 

The Carey Institute for Global Good is a non-profit organization committed to supporting educators globally in service of the mission to contribute to a strong, educated and just society. Carey’s Center for Learning in Practice places particular focus on assisting qualified refugee educators and service providers in displacement, migration, and resettlement contexts via its Refugee Educator Academy. By creating inclusive, responsive, and equitable learning communities, Carey equips educators with the tools to implement holistic learning curricula in displaced contexts. 

As members of GH 806, we’ve teamed up with the Carey Institute to devise a mobile application that helps teachers understand the effectiveness of their SEL lesson plans. The application allows teachers to evaluate students in one of the five SEL competencies, and aggregates this performance data over time. Teachers (and Carey) can then use the application to understand how students have learned and grown during a particular course. Additionally, our application allows educators to evaluate their own lesson plans by indicating the level of student engagement and the difficulty of implementing the curriculum. Finally, the application provides spaces for educators to check-in on their own well-being. Daily check-in and check-out forms allow educators to share their happiness and stress levels, and gives the Carey team a read on the pulse of teacher well-being in a given context. In these ways, the application seeks to improve educator efficacy while also monitoring and ensuring their well-being on a regular basis. 

While not overtly addressing a public health challenge, our application will enable the Carey Institute team to develop better SEL curricula. In doing so, students in displaced contexts will build self-management and self-efficacy skills, which are essential for healthy behavior adoption. With an increased sense of self-awareness and regulation, students across the world may have the confidence to take control of their health, thanks in small part to our mobile application.