Led by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago conducted a voluntary survey on Lab students as part of a study to find and quantify the socioemotional skills and preferences that lead to success in school, extracurriculars and wellbeing. U-High students took the survey Feb. 13, and middle school students took the survey Feb. 19. Lower school students will take the survey Feb. 21 and Feb. 28.
Lab’s strategic framework released in October 2019 outlined self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making as the five core competencies of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning framework.
According to Tomas Jagelka, one of the economists leading the project, socioemotional skills are not yet well understood by the scientific community.
“What we want to do really is to improve and standardize the measurement of these skills to understand exactly what they are,” Dr. Jagelka said.
In addition to the first survey, the CEHD will conduct more surveys throughout the year to track the development of the data. According to Dr. Jagelka, students can further contribute to the study in the enhanced experimental group with games, experiments and innovative techniques that vary incentives, environment, framing and elicitation of questions.
“I think what’s really exciting about this study is both the study itself but also bringing Lab back to being a Lab where we are able to work with University partners to learn important things about child development,” Laboratory Schools Director Charlie Abelmann said.
The collaboration between Lab and the CEHD commenced last summer so that the committee included juniors and seniors from U-High on the Committee for the Economics of Human Development, the committee that administered the survey given to Lab students. Members of the committee include seniors Suleyman Ahmed, Ananya Asthana and Madeline Welch all of who worked with Dr. Heckman through the SummerLink program during the summer.
“It will be really interesting to see what the data says about who we are as a community, like what we’re actually like,” Suleyman said. “And then, we can actually use that data to make a better school culture.”
Although the survey was only conducted with Lab students, Dr. Jegelka believes that the results of the study have the potential to improve education across the country.
Dr. Jagelka said, “We hope this will be a long-term collaboration between Lab and the CEHD, which will hopefully produce not only a contribution to knowledge but also will have tangible impacts.”