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An Evidence-Based Approach to SEL

Harmony was initially developed at Arizona State University in 2008 and it transitioned to National University in 2014. Since its inception, researchers with expertise in social and emotional learning (SEL) and development have conducted rigorous evaluations of Harmony components — providing sufficient evidence to be named a CASEL SELect program.

Today, Harmony supports 57,000 schools and organizations, influencing more than 18,000,000 students in 50 states and 88 countries.

Latest Research

U.S. Department of Education: EIR Grant

As a recipient of the prestigious Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant, Harmony Academy at National University is developing Harmony SEL-Academic Integration, an innovative model that embeds the Harmony Curriculum more intentionally into academic instruction, particularly in schools with historically underrepresented students.

Over the next five years, Harmony will work with the New York City Public Schools and San Antonio Independent School District to integrate this model into academics, potentially impacting more than 8,000 students in these major city school districts.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) serves as the independent evaluator to study the impact of this program model.

Harmony Case Study Findings

As part of the refresh of the Harmony Curriculum (Third Edition), Harmony staff partnered with four districts in 2022 — two midsize districts in the Midwest, one midsize district in the South, and one midsize district in the Southwest — to receive early access to the refreshed Everyday Practices (Meet Up and Buddy Up) and to Units 3 and 4 of the Units, Lessons, and Activities. Educators received two district-specific trainings to pilot Harmony Third Edition. Most participating educators across the four districts offered feedback on their experience through surveys (n=61), focus groups (n=51), and classroom observations (n=34).

Key Recommendations for
Educators and Administrators from the Case Studies

Find time to embed Harmony principles within academics.

Prioritize students’ social and emotional development and well-being.

Become familiar with the program.

Make certain to implement the core pieces of Meet Up.

Proven Benefits to Academic Performance and Peer Relationships

SEL studies and Harmony’s empirical research demonstrate that the relationship-building activities of Harmony benefit students in multiple ways. In a quasi-experimental study of fifth-grade students, researchers found that students who participated in Harmony lessons and activities, compared to students who did not, experienced positive outcomes in their peer relationships, academic achievements, and social and emotional development 1,2.

Harmony was initially developed to focus on building strong and harmonious relationships among students who may not typically interact with each other in classrooms 3. The intention was to explicitly teach the social and emotional skills students need to engage with themselves and others 4. The initial theoretical and empirical grounding as well as recent research within the social and emotional learning field are incorporated in the refresh of the Harmony Curriculum (Third Edition) 5.

Improved writing and math performance

Had significantly more diverse friends

Were more likely to engage in play with a wider array of peers

Decreased perceived aggression observed by teachers

Liked school more

Felt a greater connection and identification with their class

Felt a greater sense of inclusion