Many universal evidence-based practices exist to prevent emotional and behavioral problems, but their routine implementation has been slow (Owens et al., 2014). Many communities deliver preventive interventions through school-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs (Fagan, Hawkins, & Shapiro, 2015), which can be cost-effective to implement and, when implemented well, have been shown to be effective in achieving a broad array of important child outcomes (e.g., Greenberg et al., 2003). On the other hand, effective interventions taken to scale can be subverted through inattentive or ineffective implementation approaches, resulting in a negligible impact of the intervention when implemented in routine practice (Nation et al., 2003). Understanding the implementation of SEL interventions is essential for scaling up school-based efforts to prevent behavioral health problems.
This symposium brings together three papers grappling with the challenges of monitoring implementation of SEL interventions in routine practice. The first paper inquires as to whether a single indicator of implementation quality might capture the shared variance of diverse dimensions of implementation quality, such that fewer questions about implementation might be needed in surveys and logs. The second paper inquires as to whether evoking specific lessons for retrospective recall might reveal consistent estimates of implementation quality across lessons, such that high-frequency real-time assessment might be reduced. The third paper inquires as to whether existing taxonomies for classifying provider adaptations to an SEL intervention account for the adaptations that providers describe making when open-ended responses are analyzed. After sharing these studies, a facilitated discussion will encourage thinking about the potential (and pitfalls!) of efficient methodologies for monitoring SEL implementation in research and routine practice for the sake of unleashing the power of prevention.