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RULER Approach

By Sarah Richardson & Austin Matthews, 9/2022

What is the RULER Approach?                                                                                     

RULER Approach is an intervention designed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It aims to help school communities understand the value of emotions, build the skills of emotional intelligence, and create and maintain a positive school atmosphere. RULER is an acronym that stands for recognizing emotions in oneself and others, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary, expressing emotion in accordance with cultural norms and social context, and regulating emotions with helpful strategies.

Components of the RULER Approach

  • Staff personal and professional learning

  • Programming for PreK, elementary, middle, and high school

  • PreK programming includes large and small groups, incorporates art, music, and drama and focuses on developing emotion vocabulary

  • Elementary programming continues developing emotion vocabulary and also works to build an understanding of emotion themes and concepts

  • Middle school programming involves self-exploration in addition to continued emotional skills development

  • High school programming continues to explore students’ sense of self and helps them plan for the future using their emotional intelligence as a tool to get there

  • Lessons and projects that can be implemented into the regular classroom curriculum

  • Cost: $6,000-$8,000

Evidence of the RULER Approach Effectiveness

Several studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of RULER within a school. First, one study found that classes that implemented RULER had more emotional support than classes that didn’t after the 1- and 2-year marks. This same study showed that RULER can lead to better instruction and classroom organization (Hagelskamp et al., 2013). Next, RULER has been found to improve the work habits and the academic success of students, particularly in English language arts (Brackett et al., 2012). Finally, schools that implement RULER have seen less bullying and aggressive behavior than schools without it, again after the 1- and 2- year marks (Cipriano et al., 2019).


Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., Reyes, M. R., & Salovey, P. (2012). Enhancing academic performance and social and emotional competence with the RULER Feeling Words Curriculum. Learning and Individual Differences, 22, 218-224.


Cipriano, C., Barnes, T. N., Rivers, S. E., & Brackett, M. (2019). Exploring changes in student engagement through the RULER approach: An examination of students at risk of academic failure. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 24(1), 1–19.


Hagelskamp, C., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., & Salovey, P. (2013). Improving classroom quality with the RULER approach to social and emotional learning: Proximal and distal outcomes. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51(3/4), 530–543.

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