Social and Emotional Learning: Measuring the Success of E-Learning

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What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

By definition, Social and Emotional Learning is “The process through which people gather and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

It is based on the concept that learning is maximized in an environment which is characterized by supportive relationships that make the process of learning challenging, engaging and meaningful.

Emotional Learning

There are 5 core competencies of SEL:


The ability to objectively recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior by assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and possessing a strong sense of confidence and optimism.


The ability to manage stress, control impulses, motivate oneself, and set and work toward achieving individual and career goals. This is a by product of the ability to control one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors appropriately in different situations.

Social awareness

The ability empathize with others and accommodate the perspectives that emerge from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Relationship skills

The ability to form and maintain productive relationships with different individuals and groups by possessing skills of communication, listening, negotiating, conflict management, etc.

Responsible decision making

The ability to make constructive and ethical choices about personal behavior and social interactions.

Why is it important in the context of organizations?

Soft skills such as team building, team management, leadership, collaboration; essentially all those skills that put the basic social characteristic of employees to test may not have a tangible or quantifiable effect on business. Nevertheless, these skills (no wonder, they are called soft skills!) have a subtle yet deep cause-and-effect relationship with employees’ work roles and productivity. Employees who are able to identify and act on their behavioral competencies are naturally more self-aware and in control.

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An organization which has a workforce possessing a good measure of these social and emotional learning competencies, may be able to measure the success of its e-learning program on 5 parameters as listed below:

Competency Measurement Parameter Application
Self-awareness Feedback and measurement of success of e-learning program Can employees master the ability to objectively identify their emotions and thoughts vis-à-vis a learning program they are exposed to, putting learning managers in a better position to steer the e-learning experience to evoke desirable “emotions” in learners, for example, “sense of achievement”, “confidence” or “satisfaction”?
Self-management Measurement of learners’ motivation Is the e-learning program proving effective in motivating employees to self-direct their learning? Is it able to foster encouragement in setting and achieving individual learning goals?
Social awareness Improve the quality of social learning Are employees self-motivated to genuinely participate in online and offline, formal and informal discussions to build on their understanding of different perspectives – using the social learning experience both as an opportunity and a challenge to come up with innovative solutions?
Relationship skills Improved feedback for e-learning/ improved quality of social learning Is the existing LMS able to channelize productive relationships? Is there a mechanism for employees to communicate their emotions and thoughts about the e-learning course effectively to learning managers?
Responsible decision making Measurement of value added by e-learning programs Does the e-learning program add any qualitative value to employees’ decision making capabilities? Are there any quantifiable positive results when you compare an employee taking the course to one who doesn’t?

Measuring the success of any learning course is almost as crucial as creating it. Though there are various ways and models to measure the effectiveness of learning programs, the SEL model can be a guide to seek answers to important questions with a fresh perspective.

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