The Emotional and Social Intelligence Movement


The emotional intelligence (EI) movement started to gain strength in the early to mid-1990s. In later years, authors started to integrate social intelligence into their writing on EI, which became the social–emotional learning

(SEL) movement. To understand the historical relevance to our discussion of affective literacy, it is important to note that there are prolifi SEL works that started in the business world (Boyatzis & Van Oosten, 2002; Cherniss, 2000; Cherniss & Goleman, 1998; Cooper, 1997; Goleman, 1998, 1995; Weisinger, 1997) and have now flourished in the world of education (Cohen, 2001; Elias, 2009, 2006; Eliaset al., 1997; Hoffman, 2009; Goleman, 2006; Graczyk, et al., 2000; Steiner, 1997; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004, to name a few). Educators have provided many strategies for the idea of EI since it fi appeared in print by Salovey and Mayer in 1990. It only took a few years for investigators to see parallels with EI constructs and those found in social competency programs in education even prior to 1990 (Rotheram-Boris & Tsembaris, 1989).

The term emotional literacy goes back further to the 1970s when the clinical psychologist Claude Steiner defined it as “the ability to understand your emotions, the ability to listen to others and empathize with their emotions, and the ability to express emotions productively” (Steiner, 1997, p. 11). Goleman's (1995) definition of EI was “being able to rein in emotional impulse; to read another's innermost feelings; to handle relationships smoothly” (p. xiii). This definition was later changed to: “emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships” (1998, p. 317). Goleman's (1998) adaptation included EI and social intelligence (SI) domains, which were self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. (A video clip of Daniel Goleman presenting his theory nationally can be viewed at NoB3NU& A more recent definition of EI is:

Emotional intelligence is observed when a person demonstrates the competencies that constitute self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills at appropriate times and ways in sufficient frequency to be effective in situations. (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999, p. 343)

This seems to be a useful working definition for many settings, although the reason EI and SEL are being discussed in this text on affective teaching may not be evident. Let's compare the above definition with our working definition of affective pedagogy found in Chapter 1, which is a teaching method that is:

A form of teaching that will support the individual's integration of knowledge regarding emotion, preference, choice, feeling, belief, attitude, ethic, and personal awareness of the self.

One might expect that the EI and SEL movements might have been more inclusive of the affective teaching and learning domains, but it seems they were rarely integrated. However, they are significantly related, as presented in the following.


Most of the SEL educational models and research are used in K–12 settings where there is a need to instill competencies and skill development for young children and young adults as a way to improve socialization abilities. There is some research on using these skills in adult classrooms so teachers and students learn to work together more effectively. Such work is closely tied to affective literacy for teachers and social–emotional literacy for both teachers and students. However, there is also a significant cognitive component to how SEL is being used in many settings. For example, Hoffman (2009) identified
several purely cognitive models in practice that are aimed at producing measurable outcomes for students learning SEL. He states:

The emphasis on emotional skills reveals that emotion per se is not the focus; rather, it is the cognitive processing of emotion that is important—the “reasoning about” emotion and the behaviors one associated with such reasoning. SEL is fundamentally about psychometric and pedagogical possibility: Skills can be taught and the learner's competence in their performance can be measured. (p. 538)

This emphasis on skill and cognitive processing of emotions has been seen as a valuable outcome for successful SEL training of students going into the world of life and work (Cohen, 2006; Goleman, 1995; Stern, 2007).

Of greater concern in this review of SEL is how teachers might use, model, and mentor such skills as proof of its value in the classroom, if they do use such strategies. A video clip of a national speaker who uses SEL for teaching acceptance in grade schools is available at v=XfyC0o88zfM& Hoffman's (2009) research and essay on the subject present a serious problem in this area, stating:

Many SEL programs similarly highlight the key role of empathetic, caring, supportive relationships among teachers, students, and parents; cooperative learning opportunities; and allowing students both autonomy and influence in the classroom. . . . However, the caring community, when translated into practice, becomes a discourse about activities and behaviors. . . . In effect, substance is replaced by structure; feeling is replaced by form. Most tellingly, caring and community are conceptualized as things teachers teach children to do by getting them to behave in appropriate ways. (p. 545)

Faculty who are teaching adults have an even greater challenge. The students in the classroom have already formed many opinions regarding education, their need to learn (or not), whether the instructor is a good teacher (or not), and may have a host of reasons for being in that course, ranging from an excitement about learning to a boredom that is tied to simply taking a required course for their major. No longer are you dealing with SEL as a proper way to ask for help on an assignment. Even in K–12, this becomes a technique to teach rather than a community norm of activity based on Hoffman's research. Palmer (2007) puts it this way: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (p. 10). He relates this to knowing yourself as a teacher and that you are “willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning” (p. 11). SEL in higher education can take lessons from what we have been seeing for 20 years in K–12; we must still heed the caution from experts in these programs:

I am a bit bothered by the great emphasis in current research on teaching the kids social skills such as listening. Of course it is important for students to learn how to listen and treat one another with come sensitivity, but it is also important that teachers listen to the students. (Nodding, 2006, p. 239)

It is therefore important to integrate the “identity and integrity of the teacher” as noted by Palmer (2007, p. 10) with the socialization and the cognitive emotional processing by the student. For effective and full implementation of SEL, such a student–teacher partnership is truly a two-way street.

How we implement SEL may be further examined by breaking it down into smaller segments and examining each in the learning environment. Goleman (1998) presents the following five clusters for SEL:

1. Self-awareness cluster

2. Self-regulation cluster

3. Motivation cluster

4. Empathy cluster

5. Social skills cluster

What would it look like to see faculty in a nursing program address the five clusters for SEL presented by Goleman? To do this, let's examine what each of these means and how their usefulness may be applied in an academic setting in various ways using vignettes. These vignettes are taken from a group process that has been used in mental health classes to help students and patients heal. This method is highly affective in nature and can create life changes in the students who use this process.

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