Wayfinder Blog

Wayfinder's SEL + 21st Century Skills Curriculum Boosts Student Purpose 75%

20 Feb

In spring of 2022, leading educational researcher and author of Teaching for Purpose, Dr. Heather Malin, published a program evaluation of Wayfinder’s high school Purpose curriculum. She conducted her study at a well-known and highly regarded high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. The school created a University of California-approved elective course for seniors using Wayfinder’s high school curriculum. Teachers implemented our adaptable, year-long program in full as well as activities from our Activity Library multiple times per week over the course of one semester. 

The study found that students who completed Wayfinder’s Purpose curriculum made significant improvements in all key measurements. 


Notably, comparisons of pre and post-program surveys show that 55% of students grew more engaged in their school community, and 64% grew in social awareness. These numbers reflect over double the growth seen from students in the control group, who were enrolled in a mindfulness class instead that did not use Wayfinder’s curriculum. 

Most impressively, Dr. Malin’s quasi-experimental research1 findings indicate that students who engaged with Wayfinder’s high school Purpose curriculum grew nearly 75% in measures of purpose—11 times greater than the control group.


This is not the first indication that Wayfinder has a measurable effect on student engagement, well-being, and achievement. We have also run six CASEL-aligned evaluations of our middle school curriculum and another for our high school curriculum. Dr. Malin’s study was Wayfinder’s first third-party evaluation, and we are encouraged by its success and excited for what it means for the future of our educators, for student mental health, and for student motivation.

Dr. Malin commented on these findings: “It’s unusual and highly encouraging to see such unambiguously positive growth in measures of students’ purposefulness. As this study shows, it is clear that implementing comprehensive SEL and purpose learning supports students to thrive in school and build skills to help them navigate the complexities of life.” 

Download our full white paper - Putting SEL to Work - to learn more about how SEL and Wayfinder are helping students thrive personally, achieve academically, and build the skills employers are looking for.