Taxonomy Project

The Taxonomy Project will create a platform that showcases the points of alignment and divergence across social and emotional learning (SEL) frameworks in a way that enables those doing the work of the field to both identify common ground and to see what is distinct within any particular framework.

In its history, the field of social and emotional learning has been defined or characterized in a variety of ways. In some respects, the term “social and emotional learning” serves as an umbrella for many subfields with which many educators, researchers, and policy-makers are familiar (e.g., bullying prevention, civic and character education and development, conflict resolution, social skills training, life skills, “soft” or “non-cognitive” skills, 21stcentury skills). However, the national discussion of this domain lacks clarity about what we mean and is beset by dilemmas about how best to measure and promote skills in this area. Underlying this challenge, and in some ways compounding it, is the fact that the field more generally is structured around a large number of organizational systems or frameworks that describe skills using very different – or even contradictory – language.

Jones and team have designed the Taxonomy Project with the goal of producing a set of interactive online tools to help researchers, educators, policy-makers, funders, and other stakeholders to better navigate the broad field of SEL or "non-cognitive" development. The project will produce: (1) a coding system that can be used to identify common elements across frameworks and to highlight what is unique within a particular framework, (2) a set of detailed Framework Profiles that summarize key information about a diverse selection of frameworks in the field; (3) an online Thesaurus that includes information about the skills in each framework (e.g., self-control, empathy, cognitive flexibility) and how they relate to those in other frameworks, and (4) a set of interactive visual illustrations that enable stakeholders to see and understand key similarities or differences across frameworks and between discrete SEL skills. These products will ultimately be made available to the public on our upcoming Explore SEL website.

Read our 2017 article about why words matter in the field of SEL to learn more about the challenge this project seeks to address or view this handout to learn more about the Taxonomy Project.


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Echidna Giving

Einhorn Family Charitable Trust

Funders’ Collaborative for Innovative Measurement (FCIM)

Raikes Foundation

Overdeck Family Foundation

Wallace Foundation

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


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