The research team at Rush NeuroBehavioral Center has one active assessment project, one active intervention project, and recently completed data collection for four other research projects – all focused on children’s social-emotional learning (SEL) skills. Three of these studies are focused on the nature and assessment of social-emotional learning skills and three focused on the effects of social development interventions. Data from completed projects are actively being analyzed. Please check our Publications page for updates on our findings.
Current Social-Emotional Learning Projects
Intervention: Facial Affect Recognition Training Study — Now Open
This research study investigates the efficacy of a coach– and computer-assisted intervention to train children with autism spectrum disorders to more quickly and accurately recognize emotions from facial expressions. We expect that the application of the results of this study will impact the development of intervention programs for a wide range of children with difficulties in these areas. See “Studies Open to Enrollment” page for more details and to see if your child may qualify.
Development of SEL Assessment Strategies for Pre-School Children
This project, funded by the McCormick Foundation, is focused on the development of assessment strategies for pre-school children. This area of inquiry is important because identifying and addressing problems intervening early in a child’s development often yields the greatest improvement. There are, however, few instruments for assessing the skills and deficits of children younger than five, when interventions could be extremely effective. This study is designed to help address that limitation.
Development of SEL Assessment Strategies for School-Aged Children: School Study
One study, funded by the Buntrock Family Foundation, involved general education students in grades K through 8. This study was focused on evaluating the reliability and validity of social-emotional learning assessments. A second goal of the project was to better understand normal age-related changes in children’s social-emotional learning skill. A final important goal of this project was to better understand normal variation in social-emotional learning skill among typically-developing children.
Development of SEL Assessment Strategies for School-Aged Children: Clinic Study
Children with a wide variety of neurobehavioral disorders frequently have social difficulties. A second study funded by the Buntrock Family Foundation examined SEL assessments among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism-spectrum disorders, and reading disorders. One goal of this project was to understand whether SEL assessments have the same reliability and validity in clinic-referred children. A second goal of the project was to understand the unique patterns of social-emotional strengths and weaknesses in different diagnostic groups.
Other studies sought to answer the question: When children have social challenges, what can be done to help them succeed? With funding from the Buntrock Family Foundation and the William and Katherine Devers Foundation, we studied the effects of social development group interventions on children with social challenges.
Our social development group therapy model targeted multiple skills that can interfere with social functioning among children with a range of clinical diagnoses. Children with social challenges can have difficulty regulating their behavior, reading social cues, understanding and using language to achieve social goals, and engaging in effective social problem-solving.
Clinic-Based Social Development Groups
We have completed a brief pilot social development groups and a year-long social development group, both for 7th grade boys, at RNBC. We have collected extensive data before, during, and after the group to understand how children responded to the treatment.
School-Based Social Development Groups
We recently completed a year-long social development group with third-graders whose teachers felt that they were struggling socially. We collected extensive data to assess the impact of the group on children’s social functioning.