Our Methods

To create the tools and resources on Explore SEL, our team developed a data collection and coding system to documents and catalogue non-academic frameworks to summarize skills, terms, and definitions and calculate how closely specific skills are related across frameworks.

Download our full methodology.

How did we do our work?

The Taxonomy Project unfolded in several phases.

Identify frameworks. Frameworks were identified in several ways including desk research and key informant interviews. The inclusion criteria for frameworks were as follows:

  1. Representative of a wide range of disciplines
  2. Widely adopted
  3. Include descriptive skills, traits, competencies, strengths, mindsets and/or attributes that are defined and can be coded

Design a database. We designed a database and a procedure for capturing descriptive data about each framework. For more detailed information about what type of data was collected, see “What Information Was Collected About Different Frameworks” below.

Develop a coding system. To document the constructs included and defined in each framework we developed a coding system that maps the constructs in each framework onto a broad set of benchmarks/outcomes across six domains (cognitive, emotion, social, values, perspectives, identity).

Create a set of visualizations. We used the information in the database to create a set of visuals that enable users to see linkages across frameworks (e.g., what is similar or different), even when different names or terms are used.

Continuous improvements to the website. We continuously made improvements to the website based on usability testing with key users, key informant interviews, survey collection, and consultation.

What information was collected about frameworks?

Framework Overview

Includes basic information summarizing the framework’s focus, scope, and audience, including:

  1. Framework Description
  2. Developer Name & Type
  3. Key Parameters

    • Age
    • Setting
  4. Scope & Structure
  5. Purpose
  6. Common Uses
  7. Key Publications
  8. Level of Detail

    • Framework
    • Skills
    • Observable Behaviors
    • Learning Progression

Skills Included

A list of the major domains and skills included in the framework and, when applicable, behavioral descriptors. Some frameworks provide a single list of competencies while others organize or group skills into ontological categories or hierarchies.

Key Considerations

Any resources or information the framework provides about factors that (a) impact how and why skills are developed, and (b) guide how the framework should be applied across ages and settings, including:

  1. Context & Culture
  2. Developmental Perspective
  3. Associated Outcomes

Available Resources

Any resources or information the framework provides to help audiences understand, develop, and assess skills in the framework, including:

  1. Support Materials
  2. Programs & Strategies
  3. Measurement Tools

Learn More

Guidance on where to learn more about the framework, including:

  1. Contact Information
  2. References

How are constructs coded?

Constructs included in each framework were coded by a team of trained research assistants using a common set of benchmarks. Codes are divided into six domains, each of which contains a set of sub-domains that represent a particular skill in that domain. Each of these sub-domains is further divided into benchmark codes that consist of an observable behavior or state. Constructs received a benchmark code if a coder determined that the definition or description of the construct provided within the framework matched the skills or behaviors described in the associated benchmark.

How were the constructs compared to one another?

A distance matrix was generated that represents how similarly two constructs were coded, and thus how closely they represent the same benchmark or skill, based on the construct definitions. This information was then used to determine which constructs should be linked together in our thesaurus and visual tools.