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STAT Overview

Students Taking Action Together (STAT) provides a set of instructional strategies so middle and high school social studies/civics teachers can integrate social-emotional learning skills (SEL) and civil discourse into existing curriculum content.

Teachers are provided with a few teaching strategies, such as “Respectful Debate,” that provide an alternative and evidence-based way to teach existing content, and in the process, help students get along better by building key SEL skills.  

Benefits of STAT:   

  • Increases students’ perspective-taking, empathy, problem solving, communication, emotion regulation, and civic engagement.

  • Works within existing content for history, current events, and issues and problems specific to your school

  • Amplifies student voice and empowerment

  • Opens a pathway to greater participation in the civic life of schools and communities

  • Meets national and state social studies instruction standards

The STAT tools:

STAT includes four core teaching strategies and tools that increase students’ perspective-taking, empathy, problem solving, communication, and civic engagement, including:

  1. “Norms”

  2. “Yes-No-Maybe”

  3. “Respectful Debate”

  4. “PLAN” problem solving and social action framework

Although it is not imperative that these strategies are introduced in a specific order, the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) Lab suggests beginning with these teaching strategies in numerical order.

To better understand the SECD Lab’s rationale for STAT, read on:  

  • Norms help establish foundational guidelines for appropriate classroom behavior.

  • Yes-No-Maybe is a straightforward tool to implement and can help teachers get a taste of STAT, while also encouraging perspective-taking, a foundational tool for harmonious social interaction and effective problem solving.

  • Respectful Debate requires slightly more preparation than Yes-No-Maybe to implement and thus might benefit from being incorporated into a teacher’s lessons after they have first tried Yes-No-Maybe. Respectful Debate deepens students’ perspective-taking by having students rotate and debate on both sides of an issue, as well as by having them summarize and check for understanding the points made by the other side, which helps further hone students’ perspective-taking, empathy, emotion regulation, communication, and critical thinking skills, which will further enhance future problem solving.

  • PLAN, which stands for Problem Description, List of Options, Action Plan, and Notice Successes, is a problem solving and social action framework that students can use for any problem they encounter, including a historical issue they would like to analyze (or re-analyze) and consider alternative solutions for, a social injustice or current event they would like to address, or a current school-related problem or issue they want to help solve (e.g., bullying, gangs, substance use, cheating, lack of inclusion). This problem solving framework requires more planning than the previous instructional strategies and builds upon the perspective-taking skills that the previous tools more directly addressed. As a result, teachers might want to consider incorporating PLAN after they have established classroom Norms, and have tried Yes-No-Maybe and Respectful Debate one or two times.

How to get involved

If you are interested in using the STAT tools in your classroom, that’s fantastic to hear! Please go to this link to download the STAT instructional strategies.

Additional information

If you are interested in learning more about STAT, we have included a link to our Frequently Asked Questions page as well as links to STAT-related articles, presentation slides, and webinars:


Presentation slides:


  • STAT: Build Citizenship, Civility, SEL, Purpose and Character in Social Studies, January 9, 2019.

    Webinar recording