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REL Pacific
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Using Evidence-Based Practices to Support SEL Research and Practice in Hawai'i


REL Pacific's goal for this collaborative project was to assist members of the A'o Aloha Hawai'i Social and Emotional Learning Collaborative (A'o Aloha) in their efforts to promote students' social and emotional learning (SEL). Participants in the collaborative included educators and administrators from the Hawai'i Department of Education and Kamehameha Schools, faculty from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and members of the private sector. The goal of A'o Aloha was to support education researchers and practitioners in Hawai'i in their efforts to improve students' academic success and overall wellbeing via SEL. A'o Aloha aimed to achieve this goal by:

  • Drafting a statewide SEL theory of change.
  • Designing professional learning supports and communication around SEL programming.
  • Clarifying the relationship between the CASEL framework and related initiatives such as Nā Hopena A'o (HĀ).

High-Leverage Need

Exposure to SEL programs has been associated with increases in students' academic outcomes, including achievement scores, grade point average, and academic engagement, and decreases in students' negative behavioral outcomes such as absenteeism and antisocial behaviors (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011; Sklad, Diekstra, Ritter, Ben, & Gravesteign, 2012). Recognizing the importance of SEL for promoting students' college and career readiness and success, educators in Hawai'i are making efforts to implement SEL in their schools, which has resulted in a wide variety of SEL program implementation across the state. This can pose a challenge for administrators seeking to offer support for schools' SEL initiatives. Thus, A'o Aloha aimed to provide resources that would support all staff and students throughout Hawai'i in gaining exposure to SEL training or programming.

REL Pacific Project Support

Members of A'o Aloha have requested training and ongoing coaching support to obtain more information about SEL. During the summer of 2019, REL Pacific provided a training session to inform the group about the definition of and research on SEL. Through this training session, participants learned about how SEL became a major focus in education, what the research shows regarding the impact of SEL on student outcomes, what various frameworks of SEL look like, and reviewed examples of best practices of SEL implementation. REL Pacific also provided ongoing coaching support to members of the A'o Aloha who were interested in learning more about the application of evidence-based strategies related to their SEL activities. The topics of this support included schoolwide SEL implementation and communication and outreach around qualitative research findings related to SEL.


Marisa Crowder

Dr. Marisa Crowder, researcher, supports REL partnership members' efforts to promote students' college and career readiness and success by fostering social and emotional learning in schools and building transition courses that help more students attain college math credit. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact Marisa at or call 1.808.664.8181.