Current Specific Research Projects

Socio-emotional competences and academic performance in adolescents: a comparative evaluation of mindfulness meditation, improvisation theatre and board games interventions at school

Pr. David Sander - FNS encouragement de projets

According to the World Health Organization, socio-emotional competences (SEC) represent key factors in the promotion of mental, physical and social health. Many countries have thus tried to implement programs aiming at developing these competences especially at school.

While evidence suggests that some programs are efficient in children, scientific validation of interventions targeting late adolescence is still lacking, possibly due to difficulties inherent to this population (e.g., arousing adolescents’ interest). The goal of our research project is to test the efficacy of three different approaches in late adolescence, and compare their effects on emotion-related processes (e.g., emotion regulation competences), on school-related behaviors (e.g., absenteeism) and on the academic performance of the students (e.g., grades): 1) mindfulness meditation, 2) improvisational theatre and 3) board games. An innovative aspect of this project lies in the application of two novel and recreational interventions especially adapted to a public of adolescents. According to a few studies, improvisation and board games have the potential to train socio-emotional skills (e.g., emotion recognition, collaboration, emotion regulation) but so far lack of evidence-based research.

In this regard, mindfulness meditation is thought of as a reference in the domain of psychological well-being in adults and is increasingly used in youths. We will thus use a random experimental design with two control conditions (office automation training and control board games) and will test a large panel of emotional, social and academic variables. The project will be conducted in collaboration with a center for pre-professional training in Geneva over a period of 2 years and will enroll around 400 students.


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