Physical Education

Physical education (PE) might be the best place in schools to promote social and emotional learning (SEL). Since PE is active, interactive and dynamic, it gives students opportunities to work on skills related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Our team specializes in teaching approaches for developing these SEL competencies.

Through our curriculum, partnerships and extracurricular opportunities, we train PE teachers to promote SEL effectively. This involves working extensively with schools and districts in our region, including DeKalb, Aurora, Elgin and Chicago. We are also asked to present and consult on this topic across the country and around the world.

Curriculum and Methods

Our research-informed physical education degree program includes courses that directly address SEL development:

Some of the methods we use to train future PE teachers to address students' social and emotional needs include:


We partner with local PE programs and host their students on campus to develop leadership and other life skills. This also gives NIU students valuable real-world experience. Read articles about some of our events:


We have an extremely productive team of scholars involved in local, national and international research on SEL in PE. See selected publications

SEL Resources

The following resources can help you learn more about social and emotional learning:

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