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Emotional intelligence in schools

Over the last decade Swinburne has been developing ways to measure and enhance emotional intelligence in children, adolescents, teachers and school staff.

Our work extends to all children, teachers and support staff in schools. This unique partnership has involved schools throughout Australia and around the world.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be defined as a series of abilities relating to how we understand, express, utilise in decision making and manage emotions. Children develop capacity and increase their ability to understand, effectively express and manage emotions as they get older, although there is great variability from child to child or adolescent to adolescent in these abilities.

At Swinburne we measure the following four dimensions of emotional intelligence in both primary school and secondary school children.

  • Emotional self-awareness and expression
  • Understanding the emotions of others
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Managing and controlling emotions

These abilities which manifest in behaviours have been shown in our research with our partner schools to predict a wide range of important variables including:

  • scholastic performance
  • bullying and victimization
  • coping mechanisms
  • resilience and well-being.

It is these four abilities that we develop in our school programs, Aristotle EI.

Learn more about emotional intelligence.

Aristotle EI: Swinburne's emotional intelligence programs

At present we have a suite of programs that build emotional intelligence abilities but are focused on concepts relevant to each developmental period. Our current programs include the following:

  • Year 1 (Introduction)
  • Year 4 (Building Blocks)
  • Year 5 (Building Blocks Booster)
  • Year 8 (Well-Being)
  • Year 10 (Resilience)
  • Year 12 (Leadership)

Over the next few years and in conjunction with our partner schools we will also develop several new programs that build emotional intelligence in other year levels and in specific groups and applications such as for children on the autism spectrum and a program for boarding houses.

Measuring emotional intelligence

Psychologists have developed many ways to measure emotional intelligence with differing success. Swinburne’s approach has been to use different approaches which are age appropriate. For instance, we use a hybrid self-report-ability assessment for young children and a self-report-peer-rater report for adolescents.

Find out more about our emotional intelligence assessment tools.

Benefits of measuring emotional intelligence

Using Aristotle EI, school are able to:

  • identify children with low emotional intelligence and make decisions that may assist in that child’s development
  • understand how low emotional intelligence may impair a child’s scholastic performance
  • understand how emotional intelligence relates to wellbeing, bullying, anxiety and other important variables for schools
  • measure emotional intelligence in teachers and staff

Swinburne’s approach is a whole school approach. This means that a child or adolescents emotional intelligence does not develop in a vacuum—it is greatly influenced by teachers and by the school culture. Therefore, we strive to assess and develop emotional intelligence in school teachers and staff.

Current studies

Swinburne is currently conducting several studies with partner schools to better understand how emotional intelligence can be used in schools and can lead to more effective development programs to improve emotional intelligence.

Some of our current research studies include:

  • evaluation of existing emotional intelligence development programs
  • the role of the internet, social media and tablet use in differences in emotional intelligence
  • the relationship between pro-environment behaviours and emotional intelligence
  • the relationship between scholastic performance, emotional intelligence and cognition
  • emotional competencies and bullying/victimization.
  • We are very interested in collaborating with other researchers and teachers in this research. Please contact Justine Lomas ( if you would like to collaborate with us on research in this area or if your school is interested in participating.

We are very interested in collaborating with other researchers and teachers. Please contact Justine Lomas ( if you would like to collaborate with us on research in this area or if your school is interested in participating.


Here are some of our published papers on emotional intelligence:

We regularly publish papers in this area so please check back for updated materials.

For more information about our research, please contact Professor Con Stough (

For more information about our Aristotle Emotional Intelligence Programs and assessments, please contact Justine Lomas (


Swinburne staff working on EI

  • Professor Con Stough

    Professor Con Stough

    Professor Con Stough is a Professor of Psychology at Swinburne University. He has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in international journals and has attracted more than 20 million dollars in research grants including funding from the Australian Research Council to study Emotional Intelligence in schools.

    He has been leading a group of researchers focused on Emotional Intelligence for more than 10 years and is currently coordinating a group of university researchers and partner research schools to develop programs and research on how to improve emotional intelligence in school children and adolescents.

    He is a frequent supervisor for honours and PhD students working on research projects with schools on emotional intelligence. His goal in this area is to help all students develop non-cognitive competencies which lead to success and well–being.

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    Justine Lomas

    Justine Lomas is the coordinator of the Emotional Intelligence Research Unit at Swinburne University. She oversees all data collection on emotional intelligence with more than 30 schools across Australia and internationally.

    She is involved in the planning and implementation of research studies as well as the development of intervention programs aimed at improving emotional intelligence in school aged children. Justine has also published in the area of emotional intelligence and bullying in secondary school students.

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    Dr Luke Downey

    Dr Luke Downey has been working in the area of Emotional Intelligence research for over 10 years. This program of research has included the development of assessments of EI (e.g., Luebbers, et al, 2007) and their use in pre–adolescents (e.g., Billings et al., 2014), adolescents (e.g., Downey, et al, 2010), clinical populations (e.g., Downey, et al, 2008) and in the adult workforce (e.g., Downey, et al, 2011). Luke's research concerning the role of Emotional Intelligence began in 2004 with the research aim of identifying how the expression, understanding, management and usage of emotional information by adults and adolescents influence important life outcomes. This program of research initially focused on developing reliable and valid measures to assess Emotional Intelligence in adults and adolescents, and then utilising these measures to examine the role of Emotional Intelligence in predicting such outcomes as; scholastic achievement, bullying, stress coping strategies, and recruitment consultant revenue.

    Luke's PhD included multiple assessments of Emotional Intelligence in elite sportsmen. The thesis was entitled, 'The Psychological Determinants of Rugby Union Player Performance', which examined psychological indices that contributed to professional rugby union players' seasonal performance over the course of two full Super 12 seasons. This study utilised qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and provided a unique insight into the psychological profiles of elite athletes. This study reflected the first attempt to assess psychological indices related to 'elite' rugby union player performance and involved repeated assessment of Emotional Intelligence.

    Currently Luke is a Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne University, and is part of a leading internationally recognised team focused on the assessment and application of emotionally intelligent behaviours. Luke us currently leading research projects aimed at examining the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and adolescent outcomes including; resilience, stress coping strategies, scholastic performance and cyber–bullying.

  • Emotional intelligence staff

    Chantelle Schokman

    Chantelle Schokman is a registered Psychologist with the Psychology board of Australia and a member of the Australian Psychological Society. Chantelle completed her Postgraduate Diploma of Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology before going on to attain a Masters of Educational Psychology from The University of Melbourne. She began working with Aristotle in 2013 after completing her thesis on the topic of Emotional Intelligence and attitudes towards bullying amongst school going adolescents.

    She has since then been involved in Aristotle Emotional Intelligence development programs for local and overseas partnered schools. When she is not working with Aristotle, Chantelle is a Psychologist with Nirodah, providing school based counselling services to schools in Melbourne. She is interested in working with children and young adults around issues related to behavioural and learning difficulties, developmental delays, anxiety and stress. Chantelle has worked in a range of educational settings including early intervention, primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Key partner schools and contact details

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