Abstract: A Longitudinal Investigation of Social and Emotional Development in Adolescence By Gender (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

317 A Longitudinal Investigation of Social and Emotional Development in Adolescence By Gender

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Patrick H. Tolan, PhD, Director, Youth-Nex, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Katherine Ross, BS, Graduate Student, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Helyn Kim, MA, Doctoral Student, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Countless efforts over the past two decades have substantiated Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as critical for academic and life success (Durlak et al., 2011).  One common model used to study social and emotional development is put forth by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). This model highlights five key social and emotional competencies that are essential for school and life success: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. However, there has been limited attention to measuring these competencies within a multidimensional framework or considering how they may develop during adolescence. Moreover, most prior research efforts have focused on elementary-aged youth (Durlak et al., 2011; Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010; Denham, Ji, & Hamre, 2010) or populations receiving some sort of SEL intervention (e.g. Payton et al., 2008). Therefore, this longitudinal study aims to fill this gap in the literature by examining normative growth trajectories of self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and two types of relationship skills (creating friendships and maintaining friendships), in a longitudinal sample of adolescence, from age 10-18, with attention to variation by gender (e.g. Mor & Winquist, 2002; Eisenberg et al., 1991; Allemand, Steiger, & Fend, 2014).

The study uses longitudinal data on an adolescent sample collected by the National 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (Lerner et al., 2005). Participants were racially and geographically diverse U.S. adolescents, beginning in the 5th grade and following them through 12th grade. For the purposes of this study, the sample was organized by age and limited to 10 to 18 year olds (sample size ranges N=565 to N=1809 per age group). The five SEL skills were measured using a confirmed measurement model identified in a previous study with the same sample (Ross & Tolan, under review).

First, descriptive analyses were used to describe the general trends of the SEL skills by age and gender groups. Next, multilevel growth curve analyses were conducted to determine the most accurate description of growth for each skill overall, and then by gender. Results suggest that (1) each skill follows a different pattern of development during adolescence, and (2) these growth patterns differ by gender. Our findings have implications for the development and application of SEL programs and practices during the adolescent years, such as informing the most opportune time for intervention, identifying the differential change and growth patterns of these five distinct skills, and recognizing the need for differential approaches to intervention by gender.