“Opportunity to Connect”: Social Skills as Engagement Agents

  • Clarence Ng
  • Brendan Bartlett
  • Stephen N. Elliott


In this chapter, we define and examine the development of social skills known to be influential in students’ lives, particularly in school. We specifically identify social skills critical for engagement in learning and describe several school-based programs designed to teach or improve a robust set of social skills known to be helpful at school, home, and in the community. A central theme is that although social skills don’t make children smarter, they can help children relate to and work with others who are motivated to learn and, hence, promote academic engagement. Social skills are essential in the development and maintenance of successful relationships with peers, parents, teachers, employers, and new acquaintances. Researchers, however, have found that for many children, social skills do more than foster interpersonal relationships; they also function as academic enablers by facilitating engagement in learning. A substantial amount of research supports this claim that effective social skills play an important role in children and youth’s efforts to engage effectively with others in daily activities, achieve well-being, and succeed in school. Admittedly, in some cases, children, especially those who come from disadvantaged families, have serious behavior difficulties that interfere with the production of desired social behaviors and make it challenging for educators to successfully intervene. Yet, in schools across the globe, many capable children are still not achieving these outcomes, and, in some cases, educators are unprepared to facilitate the development of key social skills essential to achieve these outcomes and to avoid social and cultural exclusion.


Social skills Socio-emotional skills Academic enablers Social skills intervention 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarence Ng
    • 1
  • Brendan Bartlett
    • 2
  • Stephen N. Elliott
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education & ArtsAustralian Catholic UniversityVirginiaAustralia
  3. 3.Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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