Crosswalk: Heart Centered Learning and CASEL

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

By Whitney Becker and Cristine Chen


Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has gained the spotlight in education over the last couple of years. This blog post summarizes the Crosswalk completed The Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) on two complementary SEL frameworks—CEI’s Heart Centered Learning (HCL) and Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).


Through examining the parallels between the two frameworks, educators can gain insight into how each aligns with their school’s mission. Educators can also explore the possibility of using both frameworks as HCL can fill gaps that are not available in the CASEL framework.


Importance of each

Both Heart Centered Learning and CASEL present broad guidelines and standards that are intended to be used across grade levels and with a wide array of social emotional learning programs. CASEL supports social emotional development through many initiatives and a network of centers to help provide technical assistance to educators, including support for development of assessments for measuring progress.


Educators can receive help in implementing HCL through publications and a network of consultants collaborating with the Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) as well as through School Compassionate Culture Analytical Tool for Educators (S-CCATE), a validated, research-based assessment developed by CEI for monitoring progress towards becoming a compassionate, trauma-skilled community using evidence-based practices.


How Heart Centered Learning and S-CCATE Complement CASEL’s Work

First, Heart Centered Learning (HCL) and S-CCATE overlaps with CASEL’s emphasis on self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness. Through consciousness, students become more aware of their thoughts, emotions and stressors. Building off of this understanding, educators can help students learn self-management strategies such as mindfulness. This, in turn, relates to a better understanding of how to not only understand the situational contexts in which trauma occurs, but also how to connect with others experiencing trauma.


HCL also focuses on the importance of compassion, which relates to CASEL’s constructs of self-awareness, self-management, and relationship skills. The HCL framework emphasizes the integral foundation of a compassionate school culture, which is similar to CASEL’s focus on involving the entire community in compassionate action through empathy, perspective-taking, support and conflict resolution skills.


In addition, teaching students skills including risk-taking, taking initiative, practicing empathy and compassion, and providing constructive feedback relate to both S-CCATE and CASEL. Both focus on having courage in a variety of situations and skill-building.


S-CCATE’s confidence and positivity scales relate to CASEL’s self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Each of these items outline the importance of self-understanding in order to build confidence and a sense of purpose, which leads to positive personal and collective outcomes.

Although one can see the theme of community represented in many of the previous elements above, S-CCATE also includes a measure of community, which is related to CASEL’s domains of self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible-decision making. Closely tied to this theme of community is equity and justice. Both frameworks highlight the importance of creating inclusive and equitable communities in which one examines their own prejudices and biases, confronts systemic and societal injustices, and understands their independent impact at the individual, school, and community levels


Advantages of Heart Centered Learning

S-CCATE, HCL’s accompanying assessment, is one of the few measures of school culture that has been validated and currently used in school districts. Furthermore, CEI has been engaged with Yale University's Program for Recovery and Community Health over the past three years to further understand how educators can implement HCL to improve staff and student well-being. Qualitative research on HCL has shown that the framework contributes to improvements in school culture when implemented with fidelity.


S-CCATE extends the work of CASEL through its emphasis on neuroscience, giving educators a deeper understanding on how to better support students’ wellbeing. The framework also recognizes the importance of school leadership in developing a compassionate school culture.

Educators can access the detailed Heart Centered Learning and CASEL Crosswalk below. The document includes a comprehensive background on HCL and CASEL, the crosswalk table, and information links for Heart Centered Learning.


For educators who are interested in learning more about Heart Centered Learning, CEI has developed several books, online articles, videos, and webinars. Resources can be accessed here.


Heart Centered Learning and CASEL Crosswalk - 5.28.2021 - rev
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