The Global Pandemic, such as COVID-19, have highlighted the significance of efficient distant learning solutions when in-person options are unavailable. Due to the isolation and stressors generated by stay-at-home rules, social-emotional skill training has risen to the centre of talks about student achievement. As children deal with and recover from the epidemic, social and emotional learning (SEL) practises can help, but classrooms aren't the only place where students can be engaged in SEL. Young people's social, emotional, behavioural, and belief development, which can aid them in coping with the difficulties they've encountered in the previous two years, can be aided by out of school time (OST) programs. According to a recent webinar hosted jointly by The Afterschool Alliance, Every and the Forum for Youth Investment emphasised the need of Out-of- School programmes across the country should use SEL tools to help students concentrate their thoughts, control their emotions, and understand and cope with their feelings, especially when COVID-19 continues to generate confusion. (Weissberg et al., 2015). But how is OST programme beneficial to the emotional need of the children and why is it necessary to incorporate SEL practises into those programmes?
Lauren Resnick, in her 1987 AERA presidential speech, originally presented the idea of "out-of-school learning," which she defined as "curricular and non-curricular learning opportunities for students and learners outside the school setting.” (Greeno et al., 1996). A primary goal of out-of-school learning is to help students overcome learning impairments and develop their skills while also strengthening their communities and promoting interest in education. OST programmes, like those in schools, often offer planned, sequential courses that give opportunity for explicit skill development and assistance for fostering family participation. Lessons in the OST are not frequently broken down by grade level. Whereas, SEL focuses on "creating and keeping positive connections, establishing trust and comfort, (developing) emotions of safety and belonging, and having positive interactions with others.” (Mahoney, Durla & Weissberg, 2018). With the help of genuine partnerships between schools, families, and the community, SEL works to improve educational fairness and quality by creating learning settings and experiences characterised by strong interpersonal bonds, a challenging but relevant curriculum, and regular assessments. Many inequities may be addressed through SEL, which can provide young people and adults the skills needed to co-create successful schools and communities. Because it affects the whole kid, social-emotional development is critical. There are less behavioural concerns (Feinberg et al., 2007), stronger interactions with classmates and family (Chow et al., 2013; Crawford & Manassis, 2011), and less mental health problems in students who have strong social-emotional abilities. (Durlak et al., 2011; Payton et al., 2008).
Out-of-school-time (OST) programmes that incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) are expected to have several positive effects on children and teenagers (Jones & Doolittle, 2017). School-based settings, on the other hand, have to contend with the rigours of a typical school day, which makes them an ideal place to promote social-emotional learning (SEL). More informal and trustworthy connections can be fostered in OST environments since they are less regimented and formal. Most OST programmes' aims overlap with those of SEL programmes, and one research found that OST programme directors are more likely than education department heads to declare that SEL is fundamental to their purpose. As a result, research shows that children and adolescents benefit from OST programmes that emphasise social-emotional learning (SEL) (). Out-of-school programmes that focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) have been proven to have a favourable impact on participants' moods, attitudes, behavioural adjustment, and academic success (Yeage, 2017). Children and teens benefit from more opportunity to practise self-regulation skills in many contexts (such as school, home, and afterschool), as well as from higher adult expectations in all of these locations. OST programmes are most effective when they target the needs of the complete child, including social and emotional development goals.
As the COVID-19 epidemic has spread over the world, the majority of nations have declared school closures for the time being. The result of the school closure has made the students socially isolated leaving them with emotional and mental vulnerabilities. As a result of the pandemic, it has become clear that school serves more than only an instructional function; it also fulfils the socialisation requirements of students. Teachers and students can no longer connect face-to-face when students are at home, despite the many benefits of online and social networking. This creates an educational barrier. Furthermore, youngsters are lacking a place where they may openly express their interests, opinions, hopes, and feelings with their peers (Jones & Doolittle, 2017). A lack of in-person options, such as COVID-19, has highlighted the significance of efficient distant learning initiatives. Despite the fact that it is rarely brought up in talks about student performance, the stress and isolation caused by stay-at-home policies has brought social and emotional skill developing to the fore. Because of this, it is critical to learn how schools and teachers can help students overcome their social isolation by incorporating Social Education Learning into their After-School Programs, and whether or not these programmes and learning techniques are useful in mediating emotional problems in students following the pandemic outbreak.
After a pandemic of COVID-19 and the subsequent spread of distance-learning opportunities, this investigation is focused on answering the following research questions:
RQ1. How do school counsellors and parents (adults) perceive the impact of social emotional learning (SEL) in out of school time (OST) programs?
RQ2. How do former student participants perceive the impact of social emotional learning in out of school time (OST) programs?
Statement of the Problem
The proposed problem to be addressed by this study is the rise in emotional problems students are experiencing due to lack of social connections caused by remote schooling and a lack of social emotional learning (SEL) supports in out of school time (OST) programs post-pandemic. School cancellations across the country due to the pandemic, along with a widespread move to online learning, may have exacerbated K-12 kids' mental health and well-being issues. This is mainly due to the loss of interactions with friends. According to Kamei & Harriott (2020), distant learning has restricted social interaction options, which raises the risk of isolation. Other researchers, such as Marchant et al. (2021) and Shanahan et al. (2020) also found that lack of traditional schooling has resulted in anxiety and a decline in well-being of students, both of which require SEL support for mitigation. Spitzer (2021) agreed with these findings, claiming that learning isolation may causes stress, despair, and anti-social conduct, as well as increased attention issues.
Scholars have not concluded what measures best define social emotional learning impact and agree there is no widely used method to measure impact, especially for OST experiences (Bailey et al., 2019; Lowe et al., 2019; Minney et al., 2019). SEL interventions in OST, on the other hand, have been studied and shown to be effective (Bailey et al., 2019; Duckworth et al., 2021). This study will lessen that gap in evidence-based research defining criterion used to evaluate the impact of SEL in OST programs post COVID-19.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this qualitative single case study will be to explore the influence of teaching social and emotional learning (SEL) in an OST program in NW Indiana (Helms et al., 2021). The study will provide insight from school counselors, parents and former OST participants and provide an initial framework for the development of evidence-based models which evaluate the impact of SEL in OST programs
(Marchant et al., 2021; Shanahan et al., 2020). Participants will be invited to participate in the study where data will be collected through quota sampling of 15 participants comprised of 5 school counselors, 5 parents, and 5 students. Because of my selection criteria, I may narrow my emphasis on those who are most likely to have experienced, known about, or had insights into the study issue in question. I'll be able to acquire a better understanding of the viewpoints of each group by separating the sample according to occupation. Participants will share their perspectives and observations on the elements and events that influenced students' social and emotional well-being while enrolled in the OST programme (Kamei & Harriott, 2021). The study proposes to include individual, face-to-face, structured, transcribed and verbatim interviews, content analysis of surveys and focus groups. The focus group discussions will explore themes in order to gain greater insight. Both manual and research data analysis software (NVivo) will be used to analyze participant responses and code emerging themes.
RQ1. How do school counselors and parents (adults) perceive the impact of social emotional learning (SEL) in out of school time (OST) programs?
RQ2. How do former student participants perceive the impact of social emotional learning in out of school time (OST) programs?
Method and Design
The study is a qualitative single case study which will put emphasis on participant observations, in-depth interviews (face-to-face), and the focus groups approach. We will be able to learn more about students' experiences in the out-of-school programme research and whether students have seen any notable changes in the way the Social and Emotional Learning supports their emotional needs through the data we collect through interviews. It is also important to get the perspective of the staffs and councillors who are involved in the SEL intervention. As a result, we will be able to observe if the school councillors have noticed any changes in their pupils as a result of OST programmes. I opted to limit down the sampling size based on profession in order to acquire the thoughts and viewpoints of different individuals in different professional groups. Oral consent was used for all interviews, meaning that participants did not sign a consent form; instead, their verbal consent was obtained orally.
The technique of quota sampling was employed in this case. In quota sampling, we determine how many persons with certain characteristics will be included in the research during the design phase. Separating the sample by occupation will help me gain a better knowledge of the opinions of each group. In order to better understand the influence of the OST programme on students' social and emotional well-being, participants will share their thoughts and feelings. The talks in the focus groups will delve further into some topics in order to provide more clarity. Participants' replies and developing themes will be analysed using both manual and research data analysis tools (NVivo).
However, this study focuses primarily on school-based programs, and there is currently a lack of research on the particular impacts of SEL while participating in OST programmes for underprivileged adolescents.
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