Guest Interview Series by Dr. Danny Glick

Hear from the Experts on Socio-Emotional Skills in Education

By IGI Global on Feb 15, 2022
Dr. Danny Glick In response to the ongoing shift to remote education, I have been conducting a series of interviews with leading industry experts, research scientists, and university professors. In this interview series, we seek to explore research-based principles, emerging trends and initiatives for driving student engagement and success in online courses.
It is our hope that this interview series will be an important step towards helping the education community navigate successfully the “new normal.”
Introduction from Dr. Glick
Today, I am delighted to be speaking with Dr. Anastasiya Lipnevich, Professor of Educational Psychology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Dr. Lipnevich is the co-editor of Psychosocial Skills and School Systems in the 21st Century, and the Cambridge Handbook of Instructional Feedback. Anastasiya contributed a chapter “The Peril and Promise of Pre-tests in Informal Massive Open Online Courses” to my book, Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses.
Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses
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The Interview Featuring Dr. Lipnevich
Dr. Anastasiya Lipnevich

DR. GLICK: Good afternoon, Anastasiya. Instructure’s 2021 Global Student Engagement and Success survey uncovers vital stats and key trends, which shed light on how online course providers can help education institutions thrive through today’s education challenges. The survey, which is based on 7,687 respondents from Europe, America and Asia, reveals that faculty and administrators are looking for ways to support student mental well-being and personal development through non-cognitive resources in order to enhance students’ social-emotional development.

I’d like to start by asking you to define social-emotional skills. What are social-emotional skills, and why are they
so important?

DR. LIPNEVICH: Thank you, Danny, for the opportunity to talk to you about these important topics.
Let’s start with defining socio-emotional skills, at the same time acknowledging that this category of characteristics has more names than probably any other psychological phenomena. These constructs are frequently referred to as noncognitive factors, psychosocial characteristics, socio-affective skills, personal skills, dispositions, character traits, twenty-first century skills, and this list is not exhaustive. No matter what name appeals to you the most, these characteristics are easier defined through what they are not, as opposed to through what they are. These skills—and in this interview I will refer to them as socio-emotional skills—are not and are differentiated from individuals’ general cognitive ability, intelligence, and KSAs (i.e., knowledge, skills, and abilities). They encompass abilities necessary for individuals to manage emotions, regulate time and resources, set goals, perceive themselves, work with others, as opposed to describing one’s ability to accumulate knowledge and process information. There is a cognitive component to the least ‘cognitive’ of these skills (e.g., the worry component of anxiety), but for the sake of simplicity, let’s adhere to this broad description.
Importantly, social and emotional skills influence a wide range of academic and life outcomes. It’s generally accepted that students don’t just need to be intelligent to succeed at school, they need to work hard, believe in themselves, cope with the stress of academic evaluations, develop and maintain networks of social and academic support, organize their projects, and study. We all have examples of brilliant people who lacked motivation or confidence and thus didn’t realize their potential. Socio-emotional skills may explain such outcomes. That is, individuals’ psychosocial qualities can be as influential as their cognitive skills in shaping academic achievement as well as educational and life aspirations.
Numerous studies have revealed that socio-emotional qualities do not only predict the grades awarded by teachers or schools, but also the data collected by large-scale testing programs. For example, research consistently shows that children and adolescents’ levels of self-efficacy, time management, and self-confidence predict their mathematics, science, and reading scores in PISA and TIMSS. Interestingly, socio-emotional constructs are important predictors of academic achievement and behavioral adjustment from early childhood, with research demonstrating that personality at age 3 predicted academic achievement in later schooling. Having said that, the quality of prediction increases with the age of the participants. It makes sense: conscientiousness, indexed through time management and work ethics is a strong predictor of academic attainment in middle school and beyond, explaining significantly smaller amount of the variance in academic achievement among elementary school children. Possibly, we observe this pattern because younger children do not get enough opportunities to manage their time or regulate their work patterns to begin with—we, adults, do it for them.
Perhaps even more importantly, these socio-emotional constructs are not simply proxies for a privileged background, or for student ability characteristics. They predict academic achievement even after controlling for key socio-economic variables such as demographics, school attendance, and home educational materials. Meta-analyses show that socio-emotional characteristics increment over and above the effects of cognitive ability and socio-economic status. It seems that these qualities are important in their own right, and play a vital role in whether students are able to benefit from their experience at school. There effects are compounded and accumulate over time and over various situations. All in all, in tandem with increasing awareness of socio-emotional skills’ relative malleability, this area of research has attracted renewed interest from policy makers and researchers.
Developments in Virtual Learning Environments and the Global Workplace
Re-Envisioning and Restructuring Blended Learning for Underprivileged Communities
Handbook of Research
on Inequities in
Online Education During
Global Crises
Curriculum Development and Online Instruction
for the 21st Century

DR. GLICK: I couldn’t agree more Anastasiya. COVID-19 means children around the world must adjust to school closure, social distancing, school reopening (but looking different), and the probability of more school closures in future. These changes will impact children’s academic outcomes as well as challenge their mental health and socio-emotional well-being. In your 2020 meta-analytic review of social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions, you note that teachers play a pivotal role in delivering social-emotional learning interventions.

With this in mind, how can teachers support students’ social and emotional well-being in hybrid and distance learning environments?

DR. LIPNEVICH: The pandemic introduced new challenges to our efforts to cultivate socio-emotional skills of students. For many learners school has served as a safe place, and it got taken away abruptly and without a forewarning. Fortunately, we are getting somewhat better at adjusting to hybrid, online, and modified in-person instruction (i.e., children are still asked to maintain distance inside their classrooms, so close play and interactions, to which they were accustomed, are not taking place). Humans are adaptable, and we, as educators and students, are trying our best to offset the negative aspect of the current circumstances. To this end, it is critically important to keep socio-emotional skills in the focus of our instructional interactions. In other words, without deprioritizing content and pedagogy, it is our responsibility as educators to support emotional and social needs of students. Teachers at any level are encouraged to invest even more effort into creating a safe space and to giving students opportunities to share fears and anxieties, while explicitly describing coping strategies that younger students may not have yet developed.

I struggled a lot with our COVID-forced pivot to online instruction. I missed the energy of the classroom, the opportunity to scan the room and see whether my students were lost or bored, and students reported to have missed it as well. Gradually, I started implementing strategies to enhance community-building and generate proxies for our lacking in-person communication. For example, after each lecture I would log off and encourage the students to stay behind and chat, just like they would do in face-to-face classes. Many said it was very helpful because they had allotted time and space to talk about lives and assignments without instructor present. I also offered office hours for personal check-ins, and was greatly surprised how many students actually logged in to share their troubles and struggles. I also became much more lenient with deadlines and completely eliminated penalties for late submissions, at the same time constantly articulating the key importance of routines in any stressful life situation. Students did appreciate extra support and understanding. Finally, starting each class with personal news would often result in lively discussions, and students often commented how much it meant to them. In general, I realized that emphasizing the ‘human’ side of our interaction and investing even more effort into building a team became critical.

To summarize, teachers could adopt the following strategies to helping students with their socio emotional skills in hybrid and online learning:

  1. Cultivate a sense of relatedness and belongingness, introducing structure and routines, and encouraging open spaces for sharing emotions, both positive and negative.
  2. Encourage students to self-reflect. Depending on the educational level, help learners to identify and label emotions, or help them to uncover triggers of particularly negative affective responses. Journaling, regular check-ins, regular formative open-ended questions will facilitate student self-reflection and processing of negative emotions. It will also create a stronger bond with educators and fellow classmates.
  3. Invest time into providing explicit instruction on effective stress management techniques and offer opportunities for physical activities. We often assume that college students are mature enough to have figured out their approaches to coping, but it’s often not the case. Discuss and normalize venting (i.e., ‘emotion coping’ and offering to be the person who can listen), accepting temporary avoidance coping a legitimate strategy (i.e., play a video game for 30 minutes to calm down and be ready to take on a project), but emphasize the importance of problem-focused coping (i.e., break the task down into components and get it done). Interestingly, I noticed that many students felt overwhelmed by their own procrastination with academic tasks. I would encourage teachers to both help students with clear time management techniques (i.e., create a list) and distraction elimination strategies (e.g., take your phone to a different room and close all the unnecessary tabs in your browser), and at the same time communicate that in some cases procrastination results in more creative products. Students are thankful to be reminded of these.
  4. Nurturing diversity and being attuned to cultural norms of students is now more important than ever. Helping students to understand that individual experiences and their reactions to them may vary quite dramatically is very important. Again, educators may want to encourage students to share their unique stories in the context of our common struggle. The realization that our stories are at the same time more and less unique than other people’s has a great therapeutic value.
  5. Partnering with mental health professionals is crucial for every educator. Educators can serve to liaise with health care professionals to identify students who may need additional follow-up counseling support.

These are obviously not all approaches that educators can implement, but we should all remember that now, more than ever, explicit instruction on how to cope, manage time, self-regulate, combined with frequent reminders that we are here and ready to listen and help, has moved to the point of utmost importance.

DR. GLICK: I couldn’t agree more Anastasiya – and I think your point about reflective journals, regular check-ins, and formative assessment is an important one. Feedback is an essential part of effective learning. It helps students understand the subject being studied and reinforces existing strengths. In additional, feedback helps students identify areas they are struggling with, and gives them clear guidance on how to improve their learning. However, teachers often struggle to engage students in the feedback process. How students respond to feedback is often influenced by students’ own attitude to learning and by their prior experience of the assessment and feedback system. In a paper published last year, you report the results of a study that measures student receptivity to instructional feedback (RIF).

According to this study, how do students receive, interpret and respond to teacher feedback?

DR. LIPNEVICH: No matter how terrific the feedback that teachers provide might be, if a student is not willing or ready to implement it, we can’t expect any changes to occur. The purpose of our receptivity research was to explore whether there may be a specific characteristic that explains differences in individuals’ tendency to be resistant or accepting of feedback and whether it links to learning? Some students may generally be eager to receive external comments on their progress or performance, whereas others may be less welcoming of it. These differences may be situational and context-dependent, but a general, trait-like feedback receptivity appears to exist. We conducted our studies in the US, New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain and in samples of middle school, high school, college, and graduate students. We consistently found that the construct of receptivity, comprising cognitive (do I understand feedback?) and behavioral (do I know what to do about it?) engagement, as well as instrumental (do I think it’s useful?) and experiential (do I like it?) attitudes, replicates across developmental levels and countries, and that it relates to academic performance, emotions, and personality. For example, in our recent study we demonstrated that receptivity to feedback made substantial contributions to predicting student grades. After controlling for gender, behavioral engagement and experiential attitudes toward feedback explained 15% of variance in student grades. In terms of its practical value, one of the most important implications of this line of research is that receptivity may represent a relatively malleable characteristic, and hence, may be influenced through instructional interventions. We are currently working on developing school-wide interventions aimed at enhancing student receptivity. Instructional feedback can represent information not only on student academic performance, but also on their socio emotional skills. Teachers now have a challenging role to keep our students grounded when the ground is moving, and it is our hope that our research into receptivity will help learners to receive and engage with information and advice that educators deliver.

DR. GLICK: Feedback has been studied extensively in relation to its impact on student learning and is established as a high impact intervention on achievement. Yet research is dominated by a focus on the giving of feedback and far less on its perceived usefulness.

What are your thoughts on the perceived usefulness of feedback and the characteristics of the learner?

DR. LIPNEVICH: Across our studies we showed that Conscientiousness and Openness were the strongest predictors of receptivity, suggesting that students who were achievement-oriented and disciplined as well as intellectually curious and open to new information would tend to be more receptive to feedback. Not surprisingly, Neuroticism negatively predicted behavioral engagement with feedback. Agreeableness had weak links with receptivity, and Extraversion was not related to feedback receptivity at all. Our correlations are in the weak to moderate range, showing that receptivity captures characteristics that aren’t subsumed under the five broad personality constructs. I would encourage the reader to contact me for our recent studies or by visiting my website at for our receptivity research.

DR. GLICK: This is all really very interesting Anastasiya, thank you!

DR. LIPNEVICH: Thank you, Danny, for this conversation!


For more information regarding this research and to review Dr. Glick and Dr. Ying’s research, view the IGI Global publication, Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses.

Available in print and electronic format, it is available at a 40% discount* when you utilize the coupon code GLICK40 through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore. Additionally, this publication is available across preferred providers such as GOBI Library Solutions, EBSCOHost, Oasis, and Ebook Central (discounts may vary), as well as IGI Global’s e-Book Collection (6,000+ e-books) database.

Visit the publication’s webpage to order, or contact Customer Service at or 717-533-8845 ext. 100 with questions. For researchers, be sure to recommend this publication or the e-Book Collection to your library to have access to this critical content.

About Dr. Danny Glick

Danny Glick is a Research Affiliate at the University of California, Irvine’s Online Learning Research Center where he explores ways to improve student persistence and performance in online courses using early warning systems and light-touch interventions. He is a former visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine’s School of Education where he investigated the effects of blended learning on the achievement of low-income students. Dr. Glick is also the Director of Pedagogical Implementation at Edusuft, a subsidiary of ETS, where he leads a team of EdTech implementation specialists. For the past 20 years, he has helped ministries of education and higher education institutions in 35 countries to shift from traditional instruction to online learning. Dr. Glick holds a PhD in Learning Technologies and a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction, and has presented and published on topics including early warning systems, targeted interventions, student persistence, and
learning design.

About Dr. Anastasiya Lipnevich

Anastasiya Lipnevich is a Professor of Educational Psychology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Originally from Belarus, Dr. Lipnevich received her combined Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, Education, and Italian language from the Belarusian State Pedagogical University, followed by her Master’s in Counselling Psychology from Rutgers University, USA. She then earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Learning, Cognition, Development concentration), also from Rutgers University. After receiving her PhD, Dr. Lipnevich joined Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ as a post-doctorate research scholar. Dr. Lipnevich received the New Investigator Award 2011 (Experimental Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lipnevich held visiting professorships, among others, at the University of Konstanz, Germany; University of Otago, New Zealand; Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; National Institute of Education, Singapore. She received recognition as an International Mentor (2021) for her work with junior female academics.

She co-edited two books – Psychosocial Skills and School Systems in the 21st Century (Lipnevich, Preckel, and Roberts, 2016; Springer) and the Cambridge Handbook of Instructional Feedback (Lipnevich and Smith, 2018; Cambridge University Press). Dr. Lipnevich has two more books currently under contract. Research Interests: Instructional feedback, affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes underlying student engagement with feedback, feedback on psychosocial skills, emotions and affect, alternative ways of cognitive and non-cognitive assessment, and the role of non-cognitive characteristics in individuals’ academic and life achievement.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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