Social-Emotional Learning

Researchers Find SEL Gains for Students in Esports

NASEF, the North America Scholastic Esports Federation, has found that students participating in esports showed "significant development" of STEM and workforce skills and social-emotional characteristics. The research was undertaken by the Connected Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine. NASEF is a nonprofit that promotes the use of esports in schools.

Researchers Find SEL Gains for Students in Esports

Development of social-emotional learning through scholastic esports. Source:NASEF

Students engaged in NASEF activities showed growth in the skills needed for:

  • Science learning, particularly asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data and doing scientific explanations and design solutions;

  • Math learning, specifically problem solving, reasoning quantitatively, attending to structure, attending to regularity and choosing the appropriate math tool to use;

  • English language arts, and especially communicating information, constructing arguments and using evidence; and

  • Social emotional learning, including mentorship, modeling, affiliation, equity, teamwork, communication and leadership.

Students at low-income schools garnered the greatest benefits of the NASEF program, the research found, with "every significant difference between schools favoring poorer schools, not richer ones."

On the SEL front, students involved in NASEF clubs placed greater value on a number of social skills than students who weren't involved. Those included: perseverance, team building, empathy, critical thinking, effort in school, a sense of belonging, school engagement and school value. They were also "more keenly aware of their own needed growth in emotional regulation skills," the researchers noted.

The investigations have been overseen by Constance Steinkuehler, a professor of informatics in UC Irvine's School of Information & Computer Sciences.

A number of esports-related research reports are available on the Connected Learning Lab's website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.