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Social-Emotional Skills, Behavioural Problems and Learning Outcomes of Elementary School Children 

Evita Ozerova1, Baiba Martinsone1, Carmel Cefai2, Elisabetta Conte3
1 University of Latvia, Latvia
2 University of Malta, Malta
3 University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Abstract. A topical question for teachers and parents is how to improve students’ well-being and success at school, starting from the early stages of their education. Research shows that social-emotional competence is one of the key variables significantly impacting children’s learning outcomes and that social-emotional learning contributes to higher learning outcomes and fewer behavioural problems, even in preschool. It is of great importance to obtain more evidence on the role of social-emotional skills in school adjustment, addressing this issue as early as possible to develop a deeper understanding of how to support children after their transition to elementary school. The current research aims to analyze relationships between social-emotional skills, behaviour problems and learning outcomes in a sample of elementary school students while also addressing gender differences in these relationships.
The sample consisted of 590 elementary school students aged 7–11 years (mean age 9.14, SD 1.38), 53.2% (314) of whom were boys and 46.8% (276) were girls. The teachers completed the Social Skills Improvement System Social-Emotional Learning brief scales, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and a three-item questionnaire on their students’ learning outcomes.
Higher social-emotional skills in elementary school students had significant associations with lower levels of behavioural problems and higher levels of learning outcomes. Moreover, the results indicated that teachers reported significantly higher levels of social-emotional skills and learning outcomes and fewer behavioural problems amongst girls in contrast to boys. These findings highlight the necessity to develop social-emotional skills in facilitating learning outcomes and behaviour adjustment in elementary school children. Teachers’ role as facilitators of social-emotional development must also be emphasized.

Keywords: behavioural problems, elementary school students, gender educational differences, learning outcomes, social-emotional skills, teachers’ evaluations

To Be or Not to Be a Great Educator, 2022. Proceedings of ATEE Annual Conference
Riga: University of Latvia Press, 2023. 985 p.
EdL. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-019-0