Research Approach

Research Approach

The research and evaluation component of SEAK Phase III was led by the Atlantic Research Evaluation & Knowledge Translation team (AREKT) under the direction of Dr. Kate Tilleczek and Dr. Brandi Bell of Young Lives Research Laboratory. The role of AREKT is to:

  • Evaluate both processes of scale-up (vertical and horizontal).

  • Develop and deliver integrated knowledge translation (iKT) to multiple audiences based on the literature and data from the evaluation.

The AREKT team collected various data from regional and provincial stakeholders and in pilot schools across Atlantic Canada.

Vertical Scale-Up

Research and evaluation of the vertical scale-up of SEL in Atlantic Canada is focused on how each province works to integrate and institutionalize SEL, what sustainability issues are faced and how they are addressed, and how the regional approach supports vertical scale-up.

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The vertical scale-up evaluation by AREKT is informed by the World Health Organization and Expand Net steps for developing a scaling-up strategy.

Guiding Questions

  • How have school boards and provincial governments institutionalized SEL curricula? Is it sustainable?

  • How was SEL curriculum incorporated by school boards and the Department of Education in each province?

  • How does the Atlantic collaboration project facilitate regional collective impact?

 Horizontal Scale-Up

Research and evaluation of the horizontal scale-up of SEL in Atlantic Canada is focused on how SEL is integrated into a whole-school approach and its impacts on students, teachers, and school climate.

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The evaluation and analysis in schools is guided by the Joint Consortium for School Health’s Comprehensive School Health Framework

Guiding Questions

  • What impact does the implementation of SEL curricula have on children, teachers, and school climate? How well integrated was SEL in a whole school approach?

  • How was the SEL curricula used or enhanced in the school/regional/provincial context?

iKT Process

Throughout Phase III, AREKT has developed and distributed an integrated knowledge translation (iKT) strategy guided by various literature including the CIHR (2004) model of knowledge translation.


Knowledge translation is the exchange, synthesis and ethically-sound application of knowledge – within a complex system of interactions among researchers and users – to accelerate the capture of the benefits of research for Canadians through improved health, more effective services and products, and a strengthened health care system (CIHR, 2004).

The iKT process began with a collective vision developed in collaboration with the SEAK project partners.  Therefore consultations have continued with the large team of provincial stakeholders to understand the messages and modalities that are most important to them. The aims of this iKT process are to:

  • Increase the profile of mental health promotion in Atlantic Canada by sharing the value of SEL and its integration into school communities within and beyond the school.

  • Increase knowledge and discussion about barriers and facilitators to scaling-up SEL in Atlantic Canada.

  • Develop a visual identity, communications strategy, and web portal.

  • Evaluate the impact of the iKT efforts.

Framework: SEL Scale-up

Inter-provincial Collaboration on Scaling-up SEL in Atlantic Canada

This draft framework is currently in development by the AREKT research team and is the result of the collaborative work during Phase III of the project. It will provide a systematic way to think about SEL in K-12 public education in Atlantic Canada offering considerations for scaling-up SEL across the region while ensuring flexibility to allow for provincial and local autonomy.

For those seeking school district/board-level guidance on how to implement and integrate SEL, see CASEL’s District Resource Centre at


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (2004). Knowledge translation strategy 2004-2009: Innovation in action. Retrieved from

  • Joint Consortium for School Health. (2015). What is comprehensive school health? Retrieved from

  • World Health Organization. (2010). Nine steps for developing a scaling-up strategy. WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data: Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from