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Though the benefits of social-emotional competence (SEC) are well-recognized, measuring it and designing appropriately matched interventions remains elusive and methodologically challenging. This paper shares formative research designed to uncover the SEC of one secondary school health teacher's students and to help her make evidence-based curricular and instructional decisions.


Inspired by bibliguidance (or bibliotherapeutic) approaches to well-being, the researchers and teacher developed a fiction literature curriculum intended to foster SEC and health literacy skills. A mixed-method approach was used to gather and analyze data from 133 students and a teacher. A survey and journal entries embedded into the curriculum, and an interview were the sources.


Results indicate the curriculum paired well with national standards for health education and a respected SEC framework; it also served well as a vehicle to reveal students' SEC. Students appeared to be competent in some areas and less in others, and there were differences between self-assessed and expressed competence.

Practical implications

Biblioguidance approaches to developing SEC in health education and other school subjects are worth continued investigation. The current results will be used to revise the curriculum and to develop supplemental materials.


In sharing the processes and findings, the authors hope teachers seeking to foster their students' SEC will replicate this work. Further, they hope health educators will gain recognition as the ideal professionals to deliver social-emotional learning instruction in schools.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Health Education

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