Social Emotional Considerations for Higher Education Students
Social-emotional learning aims to enhance student’s self and social awareness and relationship skills. These skills help students of all ages work effectively with others while strengthening their self-regulation and decision-making abilities.
Adult learners, in particular, face various life challenges while making significant decisions, starting at 18! Social-emotional learning, or social-emotional consideration, helps nurture a growth mindset for students while boosting their emotional intelligence and empathy. Determination, grit, and persistence are also developed through the fundamental consideration that social and emotional skills matter and are crucial in higher education institutions.
Several arguments represent both sides of social-emotional learning. One is that the concept represents a shift in the role of traditional educators to one of mental health counseling, or therapy.
I respectfully disagree. The pandemic alone took a tremendous emotional toll on students and faculty alike. Emotions such as stress, anxiety, grief, and loss, coupled with reduced social interactions, certainly contributed to a wide range of emotions, including depression. Social and emotional consideration offers one way to support and respond to the pandemic’s toll.
However, these emotions existed before the pandemic and definitely exist post-pandemic. Mental health challenges have always existed, and adult learners ages 18-80 experience a wide range of emotions anyway. Throw in the stress of higher learning, and it’s only natural that students need support.
If higher education institutions are going to consider social-emotional learning seriously, wouldn’t it make sense to treat emotions academically, along with the traditional campus resources that are already available?
In K-12 schools, social-emotional learning goals tend to be focused on the following:
To help students understand their emotions and how they impact their behaviors.
To teach students how to recognize and regulate their emotions.
To help students name emotions, both their own and those of others.
On the list of basic needs for adult learners, I’d also include their emotional needs. The ability to communicate their needs, and to become more self-conscious about the triggers of their emotional responses. These are skills that are needed for learning, but also very much needed in life.
There is certainly a need for strategies to master and influence emotions at every level of learning. Educators at higher education institutions can undoubtedly integrate the study of emotions into specific classes. Additionally, there are opportunities to build resilience and create a safe, collaborative environment within the classroom.
Written By: Meredith Biesinger
Professional Writer/ Education Specialist
Meredith Biesinger is a licensed dyslexia therapist in Mississippi, in addition to being an experienced classroom teacher and K-12 administrator. Meredith also works as a consultant, where she bridges the bridge the gap between K-12 school districts and ed-tech organizations. With a passion for literacy, she is also a professional writer and syndicated author. With a M.Ed in Educational Leadership and a B.S. in English Education and Creative Writing, she has had rich and diverse opportunities to teach students and education professionals in different parts of the country as well as overseas.
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