Aligning ACT Tessera to the CASEL Framework

ACT Tessera is a comprehensive assessment system designed to measure five social and emotional skills. When developing ACT Tessera, the multitude of existing social and emotional skill frameworks were considered. Due to its many desirable features, the ACT Tessera development team adopted the Big Five taxonomy, the dominant personality trait model, as the organizing framework.

The Big Five framework stems from the lexical hypothesis, which states, “the most important individual differences in human transactions will come to be encoded as single terms in some or all of the world’s languages”.

Researchers factor analyzed personal trait-related adjectives identified in the English language dictionary, and this ultimately led to five replicable factors. The five domains are commonly referred to as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability (the opposite of neuroticism), and openness. 

A key advantage of the Big Five framework is that it optimizes bandwidth and fidelity, that is, it allows for the summary of a large amount of information while simultaneously allowing for some nuanced individual difference description. In addition, there are decades of empirical support for the framework including, but not limited to, generalizability across different populations and settings and strong criterion-related validity evidence.

The ACT Tessera skills have been aligned to the Big Five previously. Here we present the alignment between the ACT Tessera skills and the five core social and emotional learning competencies adopted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). These five competencies are labeled self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.


Kate E. Walton, PhD

Kate Walton is a principal research scientist in ACT's Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning. Prior to joining ACT in 2017, she was Associate Professor of Psychology at St. John's University. She specializes in personality assessment and development.

Jeremy Burrus, PhD

Jeremy Burrus is the senior director of ACT’s Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning (SEALS). Before coming to ACT, he was a principal research scientist at ProExam’s Center for Innovative Assessments, and prior to that he was a research scientist at Educational Testing Service. He graduated with a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in 2006, and was a post-doctoral research scholar at Columbia Business School in New York City from 2006-2008.

Cristina Anguiano-Carrasco, PhD

Cristina Anguiano-Carrasco is a senior research scientist in the Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning (SEAL). Her research focusses on the measurement, assessment development, and associated response biases of Social and Emotional skills.

Jason Way, PhD

Jason Way is a senior research psychologist in the Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning. His research focuses on the assessment of the social and emotional skills that impact important academic and work outcomes.

Dana Murano, PhD Candidate

Dana Murano is a research scientist in ACT's Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning. Her research focuses on the development and assessment of social and emotional skills in students.