Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving (SDM/SPS)

A Curriculum for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Grades K-1
Pages: 448
ISBN: 9780878226566
Item Number: 6563

$42.76You save $4.23 (9%)


The designation indicates that a program is evidence-based; well-designed and classroom-based program that systematically promotes students’ social and emotional competence, provides opportunities for practice, and offers multiyear programming; and delivers high-quality training and other implementation supports.

Developed over three decades of implementation in a wide range of schools, this research-validated curriculum focuses on teaching students to be reflective, nonimpulsive, and responsible decision makers and problem solvers—while emphasizing essential literacy skills. It is ideal for classroom use and can be adapted for small-group settings.

The program uses a variety of cooperative learning methods, including small-group brainstorming, problem-solving, and role-playing activities. Students learn skills such as self-control, listening, respectful communication, giving and receiving help, and working cooperatively and fairly in groups. The manual includes numerous reproducible worksheets available as a download.

SDM/SPS influences student behavior, academic learning, and social and emotional life. It promotes a multicultural perspective by building group cohesion, acceptance of differences, and the ability to understand different points of view.

SDM/SPS has been recognized as:

  • an Exemplary Evidence-Based Social-Emotional Learning Program by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)
  • a Statewide Model Program for Substance Abuse Prevention by the New Jersey State Department of Education
  • a Promising Program by the Expert Panel, U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools
  • an Exemplary Evidence-Based, School-Based Learning Program by NASP (the National Association of School Psychologists)

Separate volumes of the SDM/SPS curriculum are available for grades 2–3 and 4–5. As an ideal extension of the elementary curriculum, the authors have also written an SDM/SPS manual for working with middle school students.

Book Review

“Using strategies such as metacognition, practice exercises, self-talk, body awareness, and aligning these topics with academic subjects to maximize generalization, this work brings the best and latest research for teaching students how to navigate complex interpersonal and intrapersonal challenges. . . . SDM/SPS for any of the grade levels will be valuable for those making the leap to classroom guidance and want a well rounded program that addresses social, academic, and mood management skills.”

—Lynn Merlone, NH School Counselor Newsletter

Training and Workshops

In-service training, consultation, or workshops by the developers of the SDM/SPS program can be provided for your school, facility, or organization. For more information and available dates, please contact:

Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care Behavioral Research and Training Institute
151 Centennial Avenue
Suite 1140
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: (732)-235-9280

Introduction: Overview and Instructional Guide for Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving in Young Children

Recommended Topics for Kindergarten

List of Kindergarten Worksheets
Part 1—Group Building
Part 2—Self-Control: Emotion Regulation
Part 3—Personal and Social Awareness
Part 4—Identifying Feelings
Part 5—Supplemental

Recommended Topics for Grade 1

List of Grade 1 Worksheets
Part 1—Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving Skills Review
Part 2—Identifying Feelings
Part 3—Self-Control: Emotion Regulation
Part 4—Solving Problems
Part 5—Group Building
Part 6—Skills Application


Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving (SDM/SPS): Academic and Home Application Activities (Kindergarten)
Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving (SDM/SPS): Academic and Home Application Activities (Grade 1)
Sample Letter to Parents and Guardians to Introduce SDM/SPS
Brochure: What Is Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving (SDM/SPS)?
Sample Scope and Sequence (Pilot Phase)
SDM/SPS Curriculum Feedback Sheet #1
SDM/SPS Curriculum Feedback Sheet #2
How’s It Going? SDM/SPS Program Survey #1
How’s It Going? SDM/SPS Program Survey #2
Student Progress Report to Parents/Guardians
SDM/SPS Summary and Recommendations for Receiving Teachers (from Kindergarten to Grade 1)
SDM/SPS Summary and Recommendations for Receiving Teachers (from Grade 1 to Grade 2)
Teacher Opinion of the SDM/SPS Program
Administrator Opinion of the SDM/SPS Program
Student Opinion of the SDM/SPS Program
Sample Implementation Time Line
Profile of Student SDM/SPS Strengths

About the Authors

Outcome Data: Four major evaluation studies have been conducted in 1986, 1991, 1997 and 2007 in additional to a wide range of additional evaluations nationally and internationally.

  • In 2007, in an urban school district, schools implementing SDM/PS obtained significant results as compared with control schools. Results Included:
    • An increase in student engagement and effort in school.
    • Significant decrease in aggressive and delinquent behaviors, as compared with an increase in control schools.
    • Increased connectedness and more positive school relationships.

    In a suburban schools participating in the SDM/PS program schools obtained significant results that included a decrease in the frequency and acceptance of verbal and physical aggression, an increase in school engagement and effort.

  • In 1997, children trained in SDM/PS made substantial gains in interpersonal sensitivity, problem analysis and planning.
  • In 1991, a longitudinal study of students exposed to the program in elementary and middle school showed higher levels of positive pro-social behavior and decreased anti-social, self destructive and socially disordered behavior then controls. Controls scored significantly higher in vandalism, physical aggression and more negative self identity and peer acceptance. Across grades male controls showed significantly higher rates of buying alcohol/providing alcohol, girls in control groups used more tobacco.
  • In 1986, results showed that students participating were better at coping with stressors and adjusting to middle school then controls.

In the video below, Research Press author Maurice Elias discusses the positive impact of promoting social emotional learning (SEL) and character development with Christopher De Michele at Rutgers University (you may also view the 48-minute interview and discussion at

Reproducible forms and handouts for this title are available on our downloads page.

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