Research Matters 


Research has guided the Little World Changers program significantly. The research has been particularly important because it provides us with evidence-based strategies and approaches that are currently working across all contexts. The research has helped us to depict best practices for promoting emotional wellbeing, empathy, self-awareness, and other essential skills. Little World Changers is revolutionalising the way we embed SEL into our communities.


Dr. Mark Greenberg is a prominent researcher and advocate for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). His work highlights the numerous benefits of SEL for children. Greenberg's research shows that SEL programs improve children's academic performance, social interactions, and overall wellbeing.
SEL enhances children's emotional regulation skills, enabling them to manage stress and cope with challenging situations effectively. It also cultivates empathy and prosocial behaviours, fostering positive relationships and reducing bullying incidents.
Furthermore, SEL improves children's decision-making abilities and problem-solving skills, contributing to their academic success. It creates a supportive classroom environment that enhances engagement, motivation, and focus, leading to improved academic outcomes.
Greenberg's research also suggests that SEL positively impacts children's mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It enhances their self-esteem, resilience, and overall psychological well-being.
By integrating SEL into their lives, children gain the skills necessary to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. They develop the essential competencies needed to navigate challenges, build healthy relationships, and succeed in various aspects of life.
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Dr. Joseph Durlak was a pioneering figure in the realm of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), widely recognized for his impactful research and contributions to the field. His groundbreaking work emphasized the critical importance of SEL in educational settings, highlighting its profound effects on students' academic achievements, behaviour, and overall well-being. Durlak's extensive research demonstrated the efficacy of SEL programs in fostering positive social behaviors, emotional regulation, and academic success among children and adolescents. His studies provided empirical evidence supporting the implementation of SEL interventions, advocating for their integration into school curricula as a means to cultivate a supportive and nurturing environment for students. Joseph Durlak's legacy continues to inspire educators, researchers, and policymakers in their efforts to prioritize and integrate SEL into educational practices worldwide.
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Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, a renowned psychiatrist and researcher, emphasises the importance of children understanding their brains as a key component of holistic development. According to Dr. Siegel, when children gain knowledge about their brain's functioning, it empowers them to cultivate self-awareness, self-regulation, and resilience.
Understanding their brains helps children recognize that emotions and behaviours are connected to brain activity, enabling them to better regulate their emotions. This knowledge promotes self-reflection, as children become aware of the impact of their actions on themselves and others.
Moreover, Dr. Siegel asserts that brain literacy promotes a growth mindset and enhances learning. By explaining brain functions and the concept of neuroplasticity, children understand that their intelligence and abilities can develop over time through effort and practice.
Ultimately, children who understand their brains are equipped with the tools to navigate challenges, regulate emotions, and develop healthy relationships. This knowledge fosters a sense of agency and enables children to take an active role in their own well-being and success.
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While Dr. Brené Brown is not typically associated with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) research, her work on vulnerability, shame, and empathy aligns with the foundational principles of SEL and highlights its benefits for children. Brown emphasises that SEL provides a safe and supportive environment for children to develop empathy, resilience, and a sense of belonging.
Through SEL, children learn to recognise and manage their emotions, fostering self-awareness and empathy towards others. They develop strong interpersonal skills, such as communication and conflict resolution, which contribute to healthier relationships.
SEL also helps children cultivate a growth mindset and navigate challenges with resilience. It promotes a sense of self-worth and belonging, reducing feelings of shame and fostering a positive self-image.
By nurturing social and emotional competencies, SEL equips children with the tools to navigate the complexities of life and establish healthy connections. It promotes emotional wellbeing, academic success, and contributes to their overall development as compassionate, resilient, and empathetic individuals.
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Dr. Lori Desautels is an educator, author, and speaker known for her work in educational neuroscience. She combines her expertise in neuroscience, education, and psychology to provide insights into how the brain functions and how this knowledge can inform teaching practices and support student learning.
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Louka Parry is a Founding Executive of Karanga, an initiative that emerged out of the Salzburg Global Seminar Series on Social Emotional Learning in 2019. Their mission is to inspire and equip practitioners, policy makers and researchers from across the world to promote quality and equitable Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills through initiatives that connect, coordinate, and catalyse action.
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Dr. Carol Dweck is a renowned psychologist known for her groundbreaking research on the concept of mindset. She is currently a professor of psychology at Stanford University. Dweck has made significant contributions to the fields of developmental and social psychology, particularly in understanding the impact of one's mindset on achievement, learning, and personal growth.
Her research has shown that individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges, display resilience in the face of setbacks, and ultimately achieve higher levels of success. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset tend to shy away from challenges, fear failure, and may not fully reach their potential.
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Dr. Tara Swart, a renowned neuroscientist, leadership coach, and author, known for her work in the field of neuroscience and its applications in leadership and mental wellbeing. Her expertise in neuroscience and leadership can provide valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms of emotional wellbeing and its impact on personal growth.
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While Daniel Pink is not specifically known for his research on SEL, his work on motivation, leadership, and human behaviour has implications for SEL and its application in educational settings. Pink's insights provide valuable perspectives on fostering intrinsic motivation and creating environments that support social and emotional development.
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Dr. Gabor Maté is known for his work on addiction, trauma, and the mind-body connection, particularly in relation to how early childhood experiences and trauma can influence various aspects of adult health and well-being, including addiction and mental health issues. 
He has written several books, including "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction," where he discusses how childhood trauma and adverse experiences can contribute to addiction later in life. Dr. Maté has a strong focus on human "development through the beautiful lens of Science and compassion."
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Dr. Ross Greene, a clinical psychologist, emphasises the integration of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) principles in his Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach. By focusing on building empathy, problem-solving, and collaboration, SEL complements Greene's philosophy of addressing behavioural challenges in children through understanding and proactive intervention.
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Nathan Wallis is a renowned neuroscience educator who emphasises the importance of understanding brain development in children. Through his work, Wallis highlights how neuroscience research can inform strategies for promoting optimal learning environments and supporting children's social-emotional wellbeing and cognitive growth.
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Dr. Robert Emmons is a prominent psychologist and gratitude researcher known for his extensive studies on the effects of gratitude on well-being. His research has explored how gratitude interventions positively impact various aspects of life, including physical health, psychological well-being, and social relationships, including studies involving children.
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Daphne Davis and Jeffrey Hayes, in their research, highlight the benefits of mindfulness practices. They demonstrate that mindfulness enhances self-regulation, reduces stress, and improves overall well-being. It increases attention, emotional intelligence, and resilience, providing individuals with tools to navigate challenges and cultivate a greater sense of peace and presence.
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Maggie Dent, an Australian author and educator, supports the implementation of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools. Dent advocates for nurturing children's emotional intelligence, resilience, and self-regulation skills through SEL practices. She emphasises the importance of creating supportive environments that promote well-being and positive mental health in children.
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Karen Young is a respected psychologist and author recognised for her expertise in anxiety, resilience, and brain health. Through her work, she provides valuable insights and practical strategies to understand and manage anxiety, foster resilience, and optimize brain health for improved mental well-being and overall life satisfaction.
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The study conducted by Gouda, Luong, Schmidt, and Bauer in 2016 titled "Students and teachers benefit from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in a school-embedded pilot study" investigated the effects of implementing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in schools. The findings indicated positive benefits for both students and teachers, including decreased stress levels and improved wellbeing.
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Dr. George Vaillant, a psychiatrist and researcher, has emphasised the significance of connection and belonging in human well-being. His work highlights how positive relationships and a sense of belonging contribute to mental and emotional health, longevity, and overall life satisfaction, underscoring the importance of social connections in our lives.
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Pasi Sahlberg, a renowned Finnish educator and author, has emphasised the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) in education. Sahlberg believes that SEL plays a crucial role in promoting student wellbeing, resilience, and academic success. Sahlberg argues that by incorporating SEL into the curriculum, schools can create a supportive and positive learning environment where students feel valued, understood, and safe. 
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Dr. Heidi Leeson from Monocle Education, is a distinguished researcher specialising in the realm of social-emotional learning (SEL). Her latest research delves into the most significant aspects of SEL, particularly concerning their impact on academic performance and the developmental stages of students. Through her work, Heidi has shed light on the crucial role of using valid and reliable assessment tools to gauge learning-related behaviours. By integrating this data with performance information, educators gain a deeper and more comprehensive insight into their students' needs, enabling them to provide more tailored support and guidance. Heidi's findings have the potential to enhance the effectiveness of SEL interventions and foster a more nurturing and productive educational environment for learners.
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Dr. Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria  Australia. Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children’s mental health and the neurosciences holding a variety of academic positions. His work on the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs and policy across the world. He developed the Neurosequential Model (NM) including the clinically-focused version, the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT).  This developmentally-sensitive and neuroscience-informed approach has been used by hundreds of clinical organizations and thousands of clinicians in over thirty countries.  This evidence-based approach to clinical problem solving is also an evidence generating approach that continues to provide data about the impact of experience - good and bad - on the developing child.
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Dr. Daniel Amen is a well-known psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and author who has focused his research and work on brain health, mental wellness, and overall cognitive function. He is particularly known for his research using brain imaging techniques, such as SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), to study brain activity and its relationship to various mental health conditions and cognitive states.
Dr. Amen's work encompasses a wide range of topics, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, addiction, and overall brain optimization. He has also developed the concept of "brain types," which suggests that different individuals may have different patterns of brain activity that influence their behavior and responses to treatment.
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‚ÄúOther People Matter‚ÄĚ was Chris' thesis resulting from his decades of research.
Dr. Christopher Peterson was at the University of Michigan, where he was professor of psychology and organizational studies and former director of clinical training. 
He held the appointment of Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, in recognition of his contributions to teaching. Peterson was among the 100 most widely cited psychologists in the world. He was a member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a consulting editor to the Journal of Positive Psychology, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Positive Psychology Book Series Editor for Oxford University Press. He authored A Primer in Positive Psychology, published in 2006 by Oxford University Press, as well as Pursuing the Good Life, selections of his PT blog column.
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In this paper, the authors suggest how educational organisations should engage in a thoughtful process to choose SEL measures and communicate why they are doing so to teachers and families.
How advocates choose to measure SEL will play a critical role in shaping the effort's goals and success. The lack of clarity and consensus around SEL creates a specific challenge when it comes to devising credible measures, so organisations must be mindful of using instruments carefully and avoiding overreliance on formal assessments.
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Joshua Brown, Ph.D., is a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. His research interests include functional neuroimaging, higher cognitive function, addiction, and computational neural modeling.
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Social Learning Theory: Developed by Albert Bandura, the social learning theory posits that individuals learn through observation and modelling of others' behaviors.
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Harvard unpacks why empathy is a key part of being a responsible and helpful community member oat school and elsewhere.


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The many findings come from hundreds of independent studies across multiple fields and sources that show SEL leads to beneficial outcomes related to: social and emotional skills, academic performance, mental wellness, healthy behaviours, school climate and safety, and lifetime outcomes.
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