Discover Learning - Social, Emotional and Identity Learning for Very Young Adolescents

University of California (UC), Berkeley logo

University of California (UC), Berkeley




Behavior, Child
Behavior, Social
Behavior, Adaptive


Behavioral: Discover Learning (SEIL)

Study type


Funder types



OPP1158584 (Other Grant/Funding Number)

Details and patient eligibility


The primary aim of the Discover Learning Project (Discover) is to test an intervention for Very Young Adolescents (VYAs) to promote positive, gender norm transformative, social emotional and identity learning (SEIL). A secondary aim is to better identify effective components of Discover that are scalable requiring the lowest resources to implement

Full description

This project builds on research from transdisciplinary developmental science that indicates that this period, which the investigators will call early adolescence (ages 10-14), is a period of dynamic maturational changes. These include the onset of pubertal development, which begins a period of rapid physical growth (including extensive brain development) and sexual maturation, as well as changes in cognitive, social, emotional, psychological, and behavioral processes. An emerging body of evidence supports the idea that this dynamic period of maturation is a sensitive period for social, emotional and motivational learning-in ways that can have enduring effects on a broad range of developmental trajectories including sexual and reproductive health, mental health, gender-based violence, education retention and attainment, and social development. A foundational element of this research focuses on the social-emotional re-orientation of the developing brain at the onset of puberty, which appears to create natural affinities for discovery learning particularly in the social domain. In contrast to didactic learning models, discovery learning is a process through which learners engage in self-motivated inquiry, supported by teachers/facilitators, information and materials, in order to "discover" the intended content (Hammer, 1997). Key elements to creating sustainable discovery learning include: a) engaging motivation and natural curiosity and b) providing social scaffolding that includes a balance of monitoring/support while also promoting youth-driven discoveries (individually and in small groups). From a developmental science perspective, the beginning of puberty is associated with two important maturational changes that impact learning opportunities: 1) a general increase in the tendency to explore, discover, and to seek novelty/excitement; and 2) a particularly strong increase in natural curiosity to explore and understand one's larger social world, including social roles, social hierarchies, and an increased sensitivity to issues of social acceptance, admiration, and learning to establish key aspects of individual identity (Crone & Dahl, 2012). A core element to this early identity development is understanding oneself as a sexual and gendered individual in relation to those around her or him; accordingly, early learning experiences during this developmental window are fundamentally shaping the development of these identities in ways that have profound implications for all areas of health-especially sexual and reproductive health and vulnerability to gender-based exploitation and disadvantage. The primary aim of this project is to develop and test the Discover Learning intervention with a goal of promoting positive, gender norm transformative, social-emotional learning during this crucial early window of opportunity. This work builds on developmentally informed principles that emphasize the importance of orchestrating a sensitive balance between promoting autonomy and providing adult engagement in ways that scaffold the discovery learning experience (Alifieri et al., 2011). The primary content (learning about interpersonal relationships and concepts of Social-Emotional Identity Learning) and method (introducing positive socially scaffolded exploration of the use of digital technology for youth-driven learning) have been chosen to strategically leverage this window of opportunity occurring during this sensitive period of learning. The approach is designed to help youth develop agency, become empowered, and to explore healthy pathways to finding meaning and purpose in their lives. To our knowledge, this is the first use of an integrative developmental science approach to leverage unique learning opportunities in early adolescence to impact broad improvements in health and education.


333 patients




9 to 14 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Boys and girls currently enrolled in school/intervention site
  • Ages 9-14

Exclusion criteria


Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Single Group Assignment


None (Open label)

333 participants in 1 patient group

Mobile-phone-based SEIL Intervention
Experimental group
This group will receive the Discover Learning 10-session intervention through a mobile-phone based platform over the course of 10 weeks (1 session per week).
Behavioral: Discover Learning (SEIL)

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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