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What Works In Character Education:
A research-driven guide for educators
Character Education Partnership
Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D.
Melinda C. Bier, Ph.D.
University of Missouri-St. Louis
February 2005
John e. & Frances g. pepper
This report was made possible by a lead grant to CEP from the John Templeton
Foundation and with the generous support of 3M Foundation and The Procter &
Gamble Company, and John E. and Frances G. Pepper. The opinions
expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the John Templeton Foundation or the other sources of financial support.
The Character Education Partnership (CEP) is a nonpartisan national coalition
of organizations and individuals, based in Washington, DC, dedicated to
developing young people of good character who become responsible and caring
The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ (UMSL) College of Education has the
only endowed chair for character education. UMSL resources include a character
education library consisting of well over 10,000 resources related to the
development of character in children, adolescents, and adults, the What Works in
Character Education Advisory Board (an interdisciplinary panel of national experts
from character education and related disciplines), and the equipment and facilities
of the Des Lee Technology Learning Center.
Please send your comments to:
Merle Schwartz
Director of Education and Training, Character Education Partnership
Fax: 202-296-7779
Marvin Berkowitz
Fax: 314-516-7356
Mailing address
402 Marillac Hall
University of Missouri- St Louis
St. Louis MO 63121-4499
This publication is available from the:
Character Education Partnership
1025 Connecticut Avenue
Suite 1011
Washington, DC 20036
6202.296.7743 or 800.988.8081
fax: 202.296.7779
What Works in Character Education i
About the Authors
Dr. Marvin W. Berkowitz is the inaugural Sanford N. McDonnell Endowed
Professor of Character Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Formerly, he was the inaugural Ambassador Holland H. Coors Professor of
Character Development at the US Air Force Academy (1999), and Professor of
Psychology (1979-1998) and Director of the Center for Ethics Studies at Marquette
University. He earned his Ph.D. in Life-span Developmental Psychology at
Wayne State University in 1977, after which he served as a Research Associate at
the Center for Moral Development and Education at Harvard University (1977-
1979). He has served as a visiting scholar at the Max-Planck-Institute for Human
Development and Education in Berlin, the Gordon Cook Foundation in Scotland,
the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), Azusa Pacific University (CA), the
University of South Florida, and the University of Barcelona. His research
interests are character education, moral development, adolescent development, and
risk-taking. He is author of more than 60 book chapters, monographs, and journal
articles. He has served as a board member of the Character Education Partnership
and is co-editor of the Journal of Research in Character Education.
Dr. Melinda C. Bier is currently a research scientist with the University of
Missouri-St. Louis. Her research interests are character development, school
reform and organizational change. Her dissertation research on the ways in which
low-income families made use of home computers and high speed Internet access
to strengthen the school-home-community connection won a National Science
Foundation (NSF) Dissertation Improvement Award and was highlighted in
scholarly publications including Nature
and The Scientist as well as in popular
media such as National Public Radio and local newspapers. She has been an
advisor to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and NSF on
issues related to ethics in cyberspace and the use of human subjects in educational
research. As Assistant Director of the Space Coast Center for Excellence she was
responsible for the daily operations of the Florida Department of Education’s
regional professional development and resource center, interpreting, disseminating,
and supporting the implementation of both traditional and alternative methods of
assessment and evaluation and coordinating teacher workshops and curriculum
development. She teaches graduate courses in the diffusion of educational
innovations and has published on the topics of character education, ethical
concerns in educational research, and Internet use by parents and community
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators ii
Over 2000 years ago Aristotle noted, “All adults involved with children either help
or thwart children’s growth and development, whether we like it, intend it or not.”
The inescapable fact is this: as adults involved intimately with children, educators
cannot avoid “doing” character education. Either intentionally or unintentionally,
teachers shape the formation of character in students—simply by association—
through positive or negative example. Character education is thus not optional in
the school—it is inevitable, and therefore merits intentional focus and priority
status in the school.
Character education is good, practical politics. It has been long recognized that
self-governance itself depends upon the character of citizens. Plato acknowledged
this when he crafted the blueprint for The Republic. The American founders
repeatedly emphasized that our own national experiment would succeed or fail
depending upon the character of its citizenry, clearly perceiving education to be the
vital foundation to self-governance and the success of our form of representative
democracy. Bluntly stated, the role of the schools in the formation of civic
character is a vital national interest.
Good character education is good education. Recent findings show that effective
character education supports and enhances the academic goals of schools: good
character education promotes learning. It is clear that just as we cannot avoid
character education, we cannot afford to implement it half-heartedly or wrong-
headedly. We need to take character education as seriously as we take academic
This raises important questions and concerns about the best way to go about
incorporating character education into school life. As interest in character
education continues to rise, educators face tough questions. Is character education
a priority? Can they spare the time and resources from high stakes testing
preparation to focus on character education? How do they know what is effective
practice in character education; i.e., what works in character education?
The following report, What Works in Character Education (WWCE) represents an
effort to uncover and synthesize existing scientific research on the effects of K-12
character education. It is made up of a brief overview of the project, a description
of the main findings, a set of guidelines on effective character education practice,
and some brief cautionary remarks regarding how to interpret these findings. It is
intended to provide practical advice for educators derived from a review of the
research. Subsequent reports will more fully chronicle the scientific journey taken
to reach these conclusions.
What Works in Character Education iii
The research for and writing of this report depended on the time and efforts of
many; we are grateful to all who contributed.
We would particularly like to thank the University of Missouri – St. Louis and
those affiliated with that institution who contributed to this project. A special
thanks to our expert panel members: Dr. Roger Weissberg, Dr. Nancy Guerra, Dr.
Susan Anderson, Dr. William Hansen and Dr. Jere Brophy. Thanks also to Kevin
Ryan, Thomas Lickona and CEP staff members Merle Schwartz, Rosie Slack, and
Nel Jackson. Special thanks to CEP Executive Director and CEO Robert Sherman
and former CEP CEO Esther Schaeffer.
This project would not have been possible without the support of the John
Templeton Foundation, the 3M Foundation and The Procter & Gamble Company.
We are also grateful for the support of John E. and Frances G. Pepper.
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators iv
Table of Contents
About the Authors ...........................................................................................i
Foreword....................................................................................................... ii
Acknowledgements........................................................................................ iii
Table of Contents ..........................................................................................iv
Introduction ...................................................................................................1
The “What Works in Character Education” Project............................................2
Stage One: Defining the Domain...................................................................2
Stage Two: Collecting and Reviewing the Research........................................3
Stage Three: Drawing Conclusions................................................................3
Effective Character Education Guidelines.........................................................3
Effective Character Education Programs........................................................4
Common Practices of Effective Programs .........................................................5
Content Areas .............................................................................................5
Pedagogical Strategies .................................................................................7
Common Practices of “Grass-Roots” Character Education................................10
Effective Individual Practices ........................................................................11
What Character Education Affects..................................................................11
Program Chart: Risk Behavior....................................................................13
Program Chart: Pro-Social Competencies ....................................................14
Program Chart: School-Based Outcomes .....................................................15
Program Chart: General Social-Emotional ...................................................16
Most Commonly Affected Outcomes...........................................................17
Most Effectively Affected Outcomes (“Hit Rate”) ........................................18
Guidelines for Effective Practice....................................................................19
What We Know............................................................................................19
Turbo-charging Character Education ..............................................................20
Conclusions .................................................................................................24
Reference List..............................................................................................25
Table 1.....................................................................................................31
Table 2.....................................................................................................32
Table 3.....................................................................................................33
Table 4.....................................................................................................34
What Works in Character Education 1
Over the past few decades, educators have become increasingly interested in implementing character
education in their districts, schools, and classrooms, and the pace of this expansion seems to be accelerating.
There is a rapidly growing, but still quite inadequate, level of funding available for both practice and research
in character education. There is also a bewildering variety of programs, vendors, consultants, and concepts
for educators to choose from in their search to improve their schools and positively impact the development
and learning of their students.
Nevertheless, there is relatively little in the way of systematic scientific guidance to aid in navigating this
profusion of options vying for the educator’s attention and limited resources. For this reason, the Character
Education Partnership (CEP) has joined with the John Templeton Foundation to review the existing research
base on character education in order to determine what we know about what really works. Thus, the central
goal of this project, funded by the Templeton Foundation and implemented by CEP under the guidance of the
two authors, is to derive practical conclusions about character education implementation from the existing
research literature. We are also grateful to the 3M Foundation and Procter & Gamble for their continued
support of CEP and its research initiatives.
This document is intended for educators. It is not meant to be an exhaustive report on the methods we
employed to reach our conclusions nor an extensive detailing of the different research studies from which our
conclusions were drawn. Rather it is intended to provide practical advice derived from our review of the
research. Subsequent reports will more fully chronicle the scientific journey we have taken to reach these
conclusions. What follows then is a brief overview of the “What Works in Character Education” (WWCE)
project, a description of the main findings, and a set of guidelines on effective character education practice,
along with some cautions regarding how to interpret these findings.
Before we turn to the nature and conclusions of the project, we must begin with one important observation:
due to the nature of this project, we are only able to reach conclusions about programs, approaches and other
materials that have been studied. Given the relatively nascent nature of research in character education, there
is much that has not yet been studied. Our task in this project was to discover and report what the existing
research tells us. We wish to remind the reader that there is a great deal of conventional wisdom out there
about effective character education -- common sense and traditional notions of effective practice. Some of
this conventional wisdom has been studied and will be discussed here. Much has not been studied. This does
not mean that such programs and/or strategies are not effective. Nor does it mean that they are effective. It
simply means that we do not know scientifically if they are effective or not. We derive our conclusions from
only those school-based programs with scientifically demonstrated positive student outcomes.
Now we are ready to describe the “What Works in Character Education” project and then to discuss our
findings and conclusions.
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 2
The “What Works in Character Education” Project
As mentioned above, with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, CEP commissioned this project as a
review of the research literature on character education for the purpose of generating (1) research-driven
guidelines for character educators and (2) recommendations for needed future research in character education
(this report for practitioners focuses only on the first goal). Dr. Marvin W. Berkowitz was enlisted as the
Principal Investigator of the project and Dr. Melinda Bier as the Project Director. Working closely with
Esther Schaeffer, former CEP Executive Director and CEO, and the CEP staff, we employed a three-stage
Stage One: Defining the Domain
Recognizing that terminology would be a problem because many different labels are applied to similar
endeavors, we examined an extensive list of definitions of character education; including:
Character education is a national movement creating schools that foster ethical,
responsible, and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character
through emphasis on universal values that we all share. It is the intentional, proactive
effort by schools, districts, and states to instill in their students important core, ethical
values such as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others
(Character Education Partnership)
Character education is teaching children about basic human values, including honesty,
kindness, generosity, courage, freedom, equality, and respect. The goal is to raise children to
become morally responsible, self-disciplined citizens. (Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development)
Character education is the deliberate effort to develop good character based on core virtues
that are good for the individual and good for society. (Thomas Lickona)
Character education is any deliberate approach by which school personnel, often in
conjunction with parents and community members, help children and youth become caring,
principled, and responsible. (National Commission on Character Education)
In order to identify our domain, we generated a conceptual model to guide us. This model makes the
following assumptions:
Character is a psychological construct. That is, the outcome of effective character education
is the psychological development of students.
Character education targets a particular subset of child development, which we call character.
Character is the composite of those psychological characteristics that impact the child’s
capacity and tendency to be an effective moral agent, i.e. to be socially and personally
responsible, ethical, and self-managed.
What Works in Character Education 3
Character education then ought to be most effective if it relies predominantly on those social,
education, and contextual processes that are known to significantly impact the psychological
development of such characteristics.
We therefore included as character education any school-based K-12 initiatives either intended to promote the
development of some aspect of student character or for which some aspect of student character was measured
as a relevant outcome variable. This spans a range that includes drug and alcohol prevention, violence
prevention, service learning, and social emotional learning, all of which feature initiatives that fit some or all
of the definitions above. We accordingly established an expert panel that was comprised of Dr. Roger
Weissberg (social emotional learning), Dr. Nancy Guerra (violence prevention), Dr. Susan Anderson (service
learning), Dr. William Hansen (drug and alcohol prevention), and Dr. Jere Brophy (teacher impact on student
An important result of this broad definition of character education is that much of the research included in this
report does not use the term “character.” Those who define character education (or character, for that matter)
more narrowly may find this troubling. However, in reviewing this literature, we have found that, regardless
of what one labels the enterprise (character education, social-emotional learning, school-based prevention,
citizenship education, etc.), the methods employed, the under-girding theoretical justifications, and the
outcomes assessed are remarkably similar. After all, they are all school-based endeavors designed to help
foster the positive, pro-social, moral, and/or civic development of youth.
Stage Two: Collecting and Reviewing the Research
Many different strategies were employed here, including electronic searches and referrals from our expert
panel. Details will be available in a subsequent scientific report.
Stage Three: Drawing Conclusions
We identified 109 research studies concerning character education outcomes and evaluated each study for the
scientific rigor of its research design (see Table 1). This resulted in a final set of studies representing 39
different character education programs/methods. A program is a system for implementing character
education; a study is a research project evaluating a program; some programs only have one such study, while
other programs have been evaluated multiple times with many studies. In total, there were 78 studies that we
considered scientifically acceptable, representing the 39 programs. From that set, we further narrowed it
down to 33 programs that were deemed effective, based on the 69 studies of those programs.
Effective Character Education Guidelines
There are numerous ways to approach the task of reaching conclusions about what works in character
education from the evidence we have gathered from the included studies.
One way is to look at which programs have research that demonstrates their effectiveness. In other
words, which programs can we conclude actually work, based on existing sound research?
A second way is to identify characteristics of effective character education programs. What
elements of practice do effective programs tend to share?
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 4
A third way is to look at character education that is generic (home-grown, not based on a
commercially available program) and examine if such programs are effective. What do schools
generally do that is effective in promoting character development?
Yet a fourth way is to look at research into specific practices, rather than as parts of full character
education programs. What are the effects of specific character education practices?
Unfortunately, while the first question is relatively easy to answer (as there are many studies of specific
character education programs) the other three questions are much more difficult to answer. Nonetheless we
will take each question in turn, and then, based on the answers to each question, attempt to distill some
common conclusions.
Effective Character Education Programs
Of the total number of programs and methods examined, we identified 54 character education programs that
had any research to back them up. We then created a system for scoring the research designs and reports so
we could identify only those studies that were scientifically acceptable for providing “possible” evidence of
effectiveness in accordance with the standards for research in No Child Left Behind . Only 39 of those
programs had studies (78) that we considered scientifically acceptable.
First we selected programs with well-designed research, and then we looked to see what that research revealed
about the effectiveness of the program under study. In the end we identified 33 programs with scientific
evidence supporting their effectiveness in promoting character development in students.
Table 2 lists the 33 scientifically supported character education programs that we analyze in this report. The
range is quite large, in terms of amount of research, type of program, implementation elements, age/grade
levels targeted, and outcomes affected. It is important to note that we have identified the grade levels for
demonstrated effectiveness for each program. In most cases, however, a program may apply to a wider range
of grade levels but only have research for a subset. We therefore are only reaching conclusions about the
grade levels that have been studied for such programs. Table 2 indicates which grade levels (elementary,
middle, high school) each program covers and which levels have actually been studied scientifically.
Results indicate that practitioners in search of effective character education programs, whether at the
elementary, middle, or high school level, have a large and diverse set of scientifically-supported options from
which to select. Program developers may use these results as models for effective practice. Our goal was not
to chronicle the implementation characteristics of each program, which is beyond the scope of this report.
However, this list overlaps significantly with the programs reviewed by the Collaborative for Academic,
Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in their Safe and Sound program review (
). That
review may be a helpful resource to garner more information on the implementation characteristics of the
programs we have identified.
While most educators do not utilize pre-packaged programs, but rather create their own character education
programs, this review may prove useful for educators interested in using well-established programs and for
educators interested in using parts of established programs to create their own. Let’s now turn to an
examination of the strategies commonly used by effective programs
What Works in Character Education 5
Common Practices of Effective Programs
Having identified which programs appear to be effective, we were interested in what implementation
strategies those programs utilized. This is challenging for two reasons:
1. Many of the research reports did not sufficiently elaborate on the content and pedagogical
strategies of the program methods (and we were not involved in an implementation review –
again, see the CASEL review Safe and Sound for supplemental implementation information);
2. Most programs employ many strategies and it is impossible to determine which ones account for
the effectiveness of the programs because they have not been tested independently.
The conclusions in this section are therefore best understood as a general picture of the tendencies of the 33
effective programs. We present here a basic description of the implementation strategies that were most
prevalent among the effective programs we have identified. In many cases we did not have enough
information to be sure if an implementation strategy was really a substantial part of the program, or, if it was,
what specific form it took and how extensively it was incorporated. For example, many programs claim to
integrate character education into the curriculum. Few programs, however, document how they do it, which
subjects are included, and how extensively it is done.
In order to paint this general picture, we generated a list of prevalent program elements based both upon our
knowledge of the field and the programs and corresponding research studies we examined. This list includes
11 major elements. Three of the elements concern the content of character education implementation and
eight concern the pedagogical strategies for implementing character education. The major elements are
presented in Table 3. Below, we provide examples of the most prevalent implementation strategies.
Content Areas
Of the three content areas, the most common was Social-Emotional Curricula, with 27 of the 33 programs
including some form of social-emotional curriculum. These curricula most often included lessons in:
Social skills and awareness (e.g., communications skills, active listening, relationship skills,
assertiveness, social awareness)
Personal improvement/Self-management and awareness (e.g., self-control, goal
setting, relaxation techniques, self-awareness, emotional awareness)
While all programs addressed some aspect of character development, 18 programs self identified as character
education, were grounded in core/universal values, or explicitly targeted the moral/ethical development of
students. In addition, 14 programs integrate character education into the core academic curriculum to some
extent. This was an especially tricky variable, as most programs claim and have the potential to do this, but
closer inspection reveals that many are actually merely teaching character education during the course of the
school day, and not actually integrating it into academics. Of the 14 that do integrate, the most common
academic subject areas are language arts and social studies.
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 6
In order to better understand the nature of these program components, representative examples follow below:
Social skills and Awareness
Sensitivity to and recognition of social cues and the requisite skills to deal with social situations are an
important part of character. The fostering of social skills and awareness takes a variety of forms. The largest
component of the Life Skills Training Program covers social skills, including using verbal and non-verbal
communication cues to avoid misunderstandings. Students are taught strategies to overcome shyness
including how to initiate social contacts, give and receive compliments, and to begin, maintain and end
Personal Improvement/Self-Management and Awareness
This category included programs that focused on the development of student competence in areas such as self-
discipline, goal setting, stress management and achievement motivation. For instance, one of the basic
principles of Project Essential is to strive to fulfill the obligations for which one is responsible; thus, learning
to distinguish between those things that are one’s responsibilities and those that are not, is crucial. Students
are taught self-discipline through the application of rational, objective thought. In a Social Decision Making/
Problem Solving unit on self control, students are taught how to set appropriate goals, generate alternative
strategies for achieving stated goals, and monitor performance toward achieving goals. In the Peaceful
Schools Project students are taught relaxation exercises to help manage stress and anger.
Problem Solving/Decision-Making
Many programs respond to the need for students to learn methods and strategies for effective problem-solving
and decision-making. In the 6
-grade curriculum for the Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways
program, a social-cognitive problem-solving model is used in which the following steps are emphasized: Stop;
Calm Down; Identify the problem and your feelings about it; Decide among your options; Do it; Look back;
and, Evaluate. Each week, one of the topics is discussed in detail. Stop and Calm Down sessions, for example,
teach students about the relationship between physiology and emotions. Students are taught to identify
physical manifestations of anger and anxiety and then how to calm down in various ways, including breathing
Self-Identified as Character Education
Several of the programs for which we reviewed evaluation reports and supporting literature left no doubt that
they not only addressed character development but identified themselves explicitly as character education
programs. For example, Positive Action identifies itself as Positive Action: The Key to Character.
Explicit Focus on Values or Ethics
Other programs did not necessarily self identify as character education and yet were grounded in the language
of core values such as the 12 core values that are the framework of The Great Body Shop. Still other
programs explicitly included goals related to student’s ethical and or moral development such as Building
Decision Skills, which provides an interactive model for teaching ethics in the classroom.
Academic Curriculum Integration
Programs were integrated into the academic curriculum to varying degrees. The secondary program, Facing
History and Ourselves, involves substantive courses through which students examine particular moments in
history, such as the years that led up to WWII in Germany or the civil rights movement in the United States.
Intense study of history as a moral enterprise helps students understand the legacies of prejudice and
discrimination, resilience and courage. A different example comes from the elementary program
What Works in Character Education 7
Peacemakers, which is most often incorporated into Language Arts. This program includes specially written
stories and writing activities including fictional characters that are learning the same skills as the students.
Pedagogical Strategies
Of the eight pedagogical elements, the most prevalent (at least 50% of the programs incorporate them) are:
Professional development for implementation (33)
Interactive teaching strategies (33)
Direct teaching strategies (28)
Family/community participation (26)
Modeling/Mentoring (16)
Other common pedagogical strategies
Also common, although used by less than half the effective programs were the following pedagogical
Classroom or behavior management strategies. The most common forms were reward or recognition
programs, developmental discipline or positive classroom management, and monitoring systems.
School wide strategies. The most common forms were leadership (individual or team) and school-
wide character education programs.
Community service/service learning. Of these, half were community service and half were service
Professional Development
Professional development for those implementing the character education initiative may be critical. While
professional development is not often thought of as a pedagogical strategy, it is essential for effective
pedagogy. A strong example of effective professional development activities are the six phases of the
intervention training for PeaceBuilders. A pre-intervention orientation exposes faculty to the program
followed by a training workshop in which three to four hours of training are provided on the basic
PeaceBuilders model. Then during the first 8-12 weeks of program implementation, each school receives at
least two hours per week of coaching in program implementation. Throughout the course of the program,
study sessions are provided for faculty on specific issues of concern to their schools, such as cafeteria
behaviors, integration of geography studies for PeaceBuilders, and management of difficult classrooms.
Additionally, two-hour periodic forums and one-day institutes are offered during which successes, challenges
and new materials and new interventions are discussed.
Interactive Teaching/Learning Strategies
The three most common forms of interactive strategies are peer discussions, role-playing opportunities, and
cooperative learning.
Historically, much of education has focused on teachers telling students what they need to know. Based on
psychological research, it has become clear that peer interaction is a powerful means to promote student
learning and development. Peer discussions are used in a variety of forms in the effective programs. The
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 8
Open Circle curriculum, for example, calls for 15-30 minute meetings twice a week during which students
move their chairs into an “open circle” that leaves one chair empty symbolizing that there is always room for
one more person.
Teachers in Roots of Empathy use intrinsic motivation when students engage in peer discussions by thanking
students for their contributions to the talk. Discussion activities are designed to help children work on
consensus building and collaboration, and students are able to contribute regardless of such things as their
reading or math skills. Likewise, the Child Development Project uses class meetings to build a sense of
community. They provide students with opportunities to contribute and take responsibility for how their
classrooms feel and operate. Students use the meetings to discuss issues, plan classroom activities, problem-
solve and set classroom goals.
Discussions of moral dilemmas are widely used both alone (Moral Dilemma Discussions) and in programs
such as the Just Community Schools. In such discussions, teachers facilitate whole classroom peer
discussions of moral and ethical dilemmas and other ethical issues. To teach awareness of pro-social norms,
the All Stars program includes a session called “the Great Debate” during which students vote on how they
feel about a particular position statement. For example, a statement might say, “If a boy pays for a date, the
girl should be romantic.” Students then stand in separate sections of the classroom that represent their
opinions: “agree,” “disagree,” or “not sure.” Students engage in debate about why they took the position they
did, and are allowed, after the debate, to change their positions. Because a majority of students stand in a
position representing a pro-social norm, the program seeks to show students that others share their beliefs.
Another powerful interactive strategy for helping students understand the complexity of social and moral
issues is through taking the role of others different from themselves, or through generally taking many
different perspectives. Life Skills Training uses role-play techniques to help students overcome shyness by
encouraging them to “act” the part of someone who is self-confident. Students write “scripts” for various
social situations and then rehearse them in pairs in class. They are taught to gradually advance by practicing
first in easy situations and then working up to more difficult ones. A common curriculum-based form is to
have students write (e.g., in journals) from the perspective of a character in literature or history.
Many effective programs incorporate cooperative learning techniques. To foster individual accountability and
equal opportunity for success, the Seattle Social Development Project groups students with different
abilities and social backgrounds into teams that then work together and are graded as a group. Team scores,
however, are based on individual students’ academic improvement over past performance. In the Child
Development Project, cooperative learning techniques are used to teach students to work with partners in
fair, considerate and responsible ways. Teachers are instructed in the general principles of collaborative
learning techniques and student activities are chosen that are inherently challenging and interesting so that no
rewards for group participation or performance are required (thus maximizing the intrinsic and minimizing the
extrinsic motivations for participation and effort).
To help students resolve conflicts constructively, Teaching Students to be Peacemakers focuses on creating
a cooperative context in which all participants seek mutual goals. Students are taught to be cooperators rather
than competitors and are instructed to recognize the legitimacy of each other’s interests and to search for
resolutions to conflicts that accommodate the needs of both sides. One way the program implements a form of
cooperative learning is through the use of “academic controversy.” In this exercise, students:
1. Prepare scholarly positions on an academic issue;
2. Advocate their position;
3. Refute the opposing position while rebutting criticism of their position;
What Works in Character Education 9
4. View the issue from both perspectives; and
5. Come to a consensus about their “best reasoned judgment” based on a synthesis
of the two positions.
Students thus learn to prepare, present and defend a position; take an opposing perspective; make decisions
based on the best information and reasoning from both sides; and, engage in a set of social skills such as
criticizing ideas without criticizing people.
Direct Teaching Strategies
In addition to interactive learning activities, many programs included a significant amount of direct
teaching strategies. The most prevalent being whole class instruction/demonstration/speakers. Whole
class instruction might take the form of classroom lectures given by the program facilitator, or
demonstration of technical skills or first hand accounts of various historical events. In Responding in
Peaceful and Positive Ways facilitators are provided with sample lectures introducing each
curriculum lesson.
Family/Community Participation
Family and/or community participation forms were equally divided among three strategies: Active Family or
Community Involvement, Parent Training, and Informing Family and/or Community.
Educators often lament the fact that the academic and character lessons from school are not reinforced at
home. Parent training is a common element in character education that can address this concern. To facilitate
the program’s focus on promoting the development of strong family and school bonds, the Seattle Social
Development Project provides optional parental training. Seven sessions are offered to parents of students in
and 2
grades on family management including appropriate forms of discipline. Families of 3
and 4
grade students are offered four sessions about creating positive home learning environments, helping their
children develop math and reading skills, supporting their children academically and communicating
effectively with their children and their children’s teachers. Families of 5
and 6
grade students are offered
five sessions on enforcing drug resistance skills. Similarly, the Second Step program offers a six-lesson,
video-based program for families who are taught the same skills that their children are being taught including
empathy, impulse control, problem-solving and anger management. The family guide includes an overview
video, three skills-training videos and 25 sets of problem-solving and anger-management skill-step magnets.
The parental component of the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) program focuses on
helping create a home environment that fosters healthy discipline and supervision, especially for at-risk youth.
In addition to basic parenting skills, parents are instructed how to help their children develop positive peer
relationships, trouble-shoot, plan, negotiate and problem-solve. Parents meet once per week for six weeks,
with meetings held every weekday evening and one weekday afternoon to accommodate different family
schedules. Meetings have been held in students’ schools to familiarize parents with the facility and free
childcare has been provided. The meetings include presentations, videotaped scenarios to illustrate new skills,
role-play, supplemental reading and home practice activities. In addition, each parent is called once per week
to check on the progress of the home practice activities and to answer any of the parent’s questions.
Beyond training parents in character education skills, many programs understand that families and
communities represent resources to help with the school-based character education initiative. The Child
Development Project has “Home-Side Activities” for grades K- 5. These books provide teachers with
activities for children to take home and complete in collaboration with a parent or caregiver. They are
designed to bring parents into their children’s schoolwork through parent/child conversation. The Child
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 10
Development Project also includes a component called “At Home in Our Schools”. This resource suggests
whole-school activities such as creating a “Family Heritage Museum”. These activities are aimed at making
families part of the school community. Another program, Positive Action, has both a family and a community
kit. The family kit contains weekly lessons paralleling the school program with parent involvement activities.
The community kit has manuals and materials encouraging community involvement in schools and
student/parent involvement in their community.
Many programs keep parents and community members up to date and involved in the program through
informational materials like periodic newsletters. Both Open Circle and Second Step make frequent
newsletters to parents a staple of their program.
Modeling and mentoring appeared in many different forms – there was no set recipe. The most common
form, however, was the incorporation of adult role models or literature based heroes. Facing History and
Ourselves uses historical examples of individuals who made positive differences in the lives of others.
Students in Teen Outreach programs work alongside adult staff and volunteers from community social
service organizations. Learning for Life engages community role models to help students identify and
develop the skills necessary to be successful in future career choices.
Common Practices of “Grass-Roots” Character Education
So far we have explored the first two questions posed above: which programs seem to be effective at
promoting student character (and learning) and which strategies they employ to do so. Now we can turn to
the last two far less studied questions, namely, what we know about grass-roots character education and what
we know about individual implementation strategies. First we will address the “grass-roots” approach.
Unfortunately there is very little information on what we are calling “generic” or “grass roots” character
education. This is true despite the fact that most of character education practice is of this “home-grown”
variety. Schools, teachers, and/or districts typically create their own character education programs. Indeed,
many well-known character education initiatives (such as Character Counts!, Characterplus, Basic School
Framework) are really frameworks for local development of such initiatives.
These initiatives ultimately take a very wide variety of forms. However, little is known about whether they
are effective or what strategies they employ. The most recent round of federal funding for character education
research (Character Education Partnership grants from the U.S. Department of Education) promises to
rectify this gap in research; e.g., one of the current federally funded projects by the Cooperating School
Districts of Greater St. Louis is a well-designed study of the Characterplus program. Home grown, or “grass-
roots,” character education is clearly a place where more research is needed.
One model for research into generic character education is recent work by Jacques Benninga and his
colleagues that examines the relation of generic character education to academic achievement in California
elementary schools. They found that schools that score higher on implementation of a variety of character
education aspects also have higher state achievement scores. Most notably, such higher scores were most
consistently and strongly related to the following four aspects of character education:
1. Parent and teacher modeling of character and promotion of character education,
2. Quality opportunities for students to engage in service activities,
3. Promoting a caring community and positive social relationships, and
What Works in Character Education 11
4. Ensuring a clean and safe physical environment.
In order to do this work, the authors had to create a rubric for coding key aspects of character education, a
strategy that is generally necessary to assess generic character education initiatives. This study was reported
in full in the first issue of the new CEP sponsored Journal for Research in Character Education (Fall, 2003).
A more comprehensive but similar rubric has been created for the Social and Character Development
Research Project (
Effective Individual Practices
Similar to the situation for generic or “grass-roots” character education, there is little research on individual
character education practices isolated from full programmatic implementation. There are at least two
exceptions to this in the character education research literature. There is extensive research demonstrating the
effectiveness of two of the elements we have already identified: cooperative learning and class discussions of
moral issues. Robert Slavin and David and Roger Johnson have championed cooperative learning for decades
and have amassed extensive scientific research demonstrating its effectiveness in promoting both academic
and character outcomes in schools. Whether assessed in isolation or as part of a character education initiative
(Teaching Students to be Peacemakers, one of our identified effective programs), cooperative learning
resulted in better conflict resolution skills, greater cooperation, and higher academic achievement, among
other outcomes. These findings were substantiated in well over one hundred research studies.
A particular form of class discussions, Moral Dilemma Discussions (MDD), has been studied for over three
decades and numerous meta-analyses of close to 100 studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in promoting
the development of moral reasoning. When students engage in facilitated peer discussions of moral
dilemmas, they show accelerated development in moral reasoning capacities. We have included MDD as a
program, even though it is really a single practice, because of the extensive research. We did not do this with
cooperative learning because it was already included as the core of Teaching Students to be Peacemakers,
one of the 33 effective programs we studied.
What Character Education Affects
Now that we have examined, in four different ways, what works in character education by exploring
programs, strategies, and grass-roots character education, we can turn our attention to the effects of character
Character education has been considered, recommended, and/or implemented for a wide variety of reasons.
Some have to do with perceptions of “the way schools simply ought to be.” But all ultimately have to do with
students’ developmental and learning outcomes. Character education, after all, is intended to promote student
character development. Even this is too vague, as character is defined in many different ways. For this
project, we tried to cast a very broad net and included many different aspects of children’s development and
functioning. We therefore had to create a taxonomy of these variables, which emerged from our review of
the research studies. We identified multiple (in this case, three) levels of specific outcomes. In the first of the
three levels of the outcomes taxonomy there are four categories:
1. Risk behavior
2. Pro-social competencies,
3. School-based outcomes, and
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 12
4. General social-emotional functioning.
Each of the four broad categories has five, six, or seven second-order categories. For example,
Risk Behavior is composed of:
a. Knowledge and Beliefs about Risk,
b. Drug and Alcohol Use,
c. Sexual Behavior,
d. Protective Skills,
e. Violence/Aggression, a General Misbehavior.
A full list of all categories at all three levels is in Table 4. Each of the middle level categories
is comprised of between one and 14 third-level behaviors. For example, the General Misbehavior category
just listed is composed of:
a. Gang activity,
b. Lying,
c. Court contacts,
d. Rude behavior,
e. Defiance of adult authority,
f. Stealing, and
g. Vandalism.
We found the first level too broad and the third level too specific (too few cases per category), and thus chose
the second level for the purpose of capturing and presenting our findings here.
The following tables represent these categories used in charting the results of the 33 programs.
What Works in Character Education 13
Risk Behavior
Risk Behaviors
Knowledge &
Beliefs about Risk
Drug use
Sexual Behavior
Protective Skills
Violence &
Program Names
1. Across Ages (middle school)
; 1
2. All Stars (middle school)
E 1 E 1
3. Building Decision Skills with Community Service (middle school)
4. Child Development Project (elementary)
1 1 E
5. Facing History & Ourselves (middle)
6. Great Body Shop (elementary)
E ; E E
7. I Can Problem Solve (elementary)
8. Just Communities (high school)
9. Learning for Life (elementary)
10. Life Skills Training (middle)
; E ; ;
11. LIFT (Linking the Interests of Families & Teachers) (elementary)
12. Lions-Quest (Skills for Adolescents )
; 1
13. Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (middle)
1 E
14. Moral Dilemma Discussion ( middle )
15. Open Circle Program (Reach Out to Schools)(elementary)
16. PeaceBuilders (elementary)
17. Peaceful Schools Project (elementary)
1 1
18. Peacemakers (elementary, middle)
19. PATHE (middle, high)
E 1
20. Positive Action (elementary)
21. Positive Youth Development (middle)
; ;
22. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (elementary)
23. Raising Healthy Children (elementary )
24. Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP)(elementary)
; ;
25. Responding in Peaceful & Positive Ways (RIPP)(middle)
1 ; 1
26. Roots of Empathy (elementary, middle)
27. Seattle Social Development Project (elementary)
1 ; E ; E 1
28. Second Step (elementary, middle)
E ; ;
29. Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescence (middle)
1 E
30. Social Decision Making/Problem Solving(SDM/PS)(elementary, middle)
1 1 E 1
31. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (elementary, middle, high)
32. Teen Outreach (middle, high)
33. The ESSENTIAL Curriculum (Project ESSENTIAL) (elementary)
Strong evidence of support =
Moderate support =
Not supported =
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 14
Pro-Social Competencies
School-Based Outcomes
Pro-Social Competencies
Socio Moral Cognition
Personal Morality
Pro-social behviors &
Character Knowledge
Program Names
1. Across Ages (middle school)
2. All Stars (middle school)
3. Building Decision Skills with Community Service (middle school)
E ; 1 E 1 1
4. Child Development Project (elementary)
1 ; ;
5. Facing History & Ourselves (middle)
6. Great Body Shop (elementary)
7. I Can Problem Solve (elementary)
8. Just Communities (high school)
; E
9. Learning for Life (elementary)
10. Life Skills Training (middle)
11. LIFT (Linking the Interests of Families & Teachers) (elementary)
12. Lions-Quest (Skills for Adolescents )
13. Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (middle)
14. Moral Dilemma Discussion ( middle )
15. Open Circle Program (Reach Out to Schools)(elementary)
; ;
16. PeaceBuilders (elementary)
17. Peaceful Schools Project (elementary)
18. Peacemakers (elementary, middle)
19. PATHE (middle, high)
20. Positive Action (elementary)
21. Positive Youth Development (middle)
22. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (elementary)
E ;
23. Raising Healthy Children (elementary )
24. Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP)(elementary)
25. Responding in Peaceful & Positive Ways (RIPP)(middle)
26. Roots of Empathy (elementary, middle)
27. Seattle Social Development Project (elementary)
1 ; ; 1
28. Second Step (elementary, middle)
29. Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescence (middle)
30. Social Decision Making/Problem Solving(SDM/PS)(elementary, middle)
; E
31. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (elementary, middle, high)
32. Teen Outreach (middle, high)
33. The ESSENTIAL Curriculum (Project ESSENTIAL) (elementary)
Strong evidence of support =
Moderate support =
Not supp
What Works in Character Education 15
General Social-Emotional
School-Based Outcomes
School Behavior
Attachment to School
Attitudes toward
Attitudes Toward
Academic Goals,
Expectations & Motives
Academic Acheivement
Academic Skills
Program Names
1. Across Ages (middle school)
2. All Stars (middle school)
3. Building Decision Skills with Community Service (middle school)
4. Child Development Project (elementary)
; E 1 ; ; E 1
5. Facing History & Ourselves (middle)
6. Great Body Shop (elementary)
7. I Can Problem Solve (elementary)
8. Just Communities (high school)
9. Learning for Life (elementary)
10. Life Skills Training (middle)
11. LIFT (Linking the Interests of Families & Teachers) (elementary)
12. Lions-Quest (Skills for Adolescents )
E ;
13. Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (middle)
14. Moral Dilemma Discussion ( middle )
15. Open Circle Program (Reach Out to Schools)(elementary)
E 1
16. PeaceBuilders (elementary)
17. Peaceful Schools Project (elementary)
E 1 1 E
18. Peacemakers (elementary, middle)
19. PATHE (middle, high)
; ; 1 ;
20. Positive Action (elementary)
21. Positive Youth Development (middle)
22. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (elementary)
; E 1 E 1
23. Raising Healthy Children (elementary )
24. Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP)(elementary)
25. Responding in Peaceful & Positive Ways (RIPP)(middle)
26. Roots of Empathy (elementary, middle)
27. Seattle Social Development Project (elementary)
; E E ; ;
28. Second Step (elementary, middle)
29. Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescence (middle)
1 E E
30. Social Decision Making/Problem Solving(SDM/PS)(elementary, middle)
1 ;
31. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (elementary, middle, high)
32. Teen Outreach (middle, high)
33. The ESSENTIAL Curriculum (Project ESSENTIAL) (elementary)
Strong evidence of support =
Moderate support =
Not supported
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 16
General Social-Emotional
& Initiative
Solving Skills
Program Names
1. Across Ages (middle school)
1 1 1
2. All Stars (middle school)
3. Building Decision Skills with Community Service (middle school)
1 E
4. Child Development Project (elementary)
1 ; ; ; E
5. Facing History & Ourselves (middle)
6. Great Body Shop (elementary)
E 1
7. I Can Problem Solve (elementary)
E E
8. Just Communities (high school)
9. Learning for Life (elementary)
E E
10. Life Skills Training (middle)
1 1 1 1 1
11. LIFT (Linking the Interests of Families & Teachers) (elementary)
12. Lions-Quest (Skills for Adolescents )
13. Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (middle)
14. Moral Dilemma Discussion ( middle )
15. Open Circle Program (Reach Out to Schools)(elementary)
E E ;
16. PeaceBuilders (elementary)
17. Peaceful Schools Project (elementary)
18. Peacemakers (elementary, middle)
19. PATHE (middle, high)
; E
20. Positive Action (elementary)
21. Positive Youth Development (middle)
1 E E E
22. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (elementary)
23. Raising Healthy Children (elementary )
24. Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP)(elementary)
25. Responding in Peaceful & Positive Ways (RIPP)(middle)
1 1
26. Roots of Empathy (elementary, middle)
1 E
27. Seattle Social Development Project (elementary)
28. Second Step (elementary, middle)
29. Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescence (middle)
1 1 ;
30. Social Decision Making/Problem Solving(SDM/PS)(elementary, middle)
E 1 E
31. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (elementary, middle, high)
32. Teen Outreach (middle, high)
33. The ESSENTIAL Curriculum (Project ESSENTIAL) (elementary)
; E
Strong evidence of support =
Moderate support =
Not supported =
What Works in Character Education 17
There is again more than one way to approach this task. One way is to simply look at the total number of
significant positive impacts on the different outcome categories. The second is to look at the percentage of
variables (the “hit rate”) for a specific outcome category for each program that is significantly improved. We
will report both here.
Most Commonly Affected Outcomes
The greatest total numbers of significant positive effects were found for the following outcomes:
1. Socio-moral Cognition (82 significant positive findings out of 111 tested)
2. Pro-social Behaviors and Attitudes (71 out of 167),
3. Problem-Solving Skills (54 out of 84),
4. Drug Use (51 out of 104),
5. Violence/Aggression (50 out of 104),
6. School Behavior (40 out of 88),
7. Knowledge/Attitudes about Risk (35 out of 73),
8. Emotional Competency (32 out of 50),
9. Academic Achievement (31 out of 52)
10. Attachment to School (19 out of 33),
11. General misbehavior (19 out of 49)
12. Personal Morality (16 out of 33)
13. Character knowledge (13 out of 15)
Most Effectively Affected Outcomes (“Hit Rate”)
The outcomes that were most consistently impacted positively (had the highest percentages of positive
outcomes) were:
1. Sexual Behavior (91%, 10 significant effects, out of 11 tested)
2. Character Knowledge (87%, n=13 out of 15)
3. Socio-moral Cognition (74%, n=82 out of 111)
4. Problem-solving Skills (64%, n=54 out of 84)
5. Emotional Competency (64%, n=31 out of 49)
6. Relationships (62%, 8 out of 13),
7. Attachment to School (61%, n=19 out of 32)
8. Academic Achievement (59%, n=31 out of 52)
9. Communicative competency (50%, n= 6 out of 12)
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 18
10. Attitudes toward teachers (50%, n= 2 out of 4),
11. Violence and Aggression (48%, n=50 out of 104),
12. Drug Use (48%, n=51 out of 104),
13. Personal Morality (48%, n=16 out of 33),
14. Knowledge/Attitudes about Risk (47%, n=35 out of 73),
15. School Behavior (45%, n=40 out of 88),
16. Pro-social Behaviors and Attitudes (43%, n=71 out of 167).
Based on prior work by Kevin Ryan and by Thomas Lickona, the Character Education Partnership has defined
character into three broad categories:
1. Understanding (the “head”),
2. Caring about (the “heart”), and
3. Acting upon core ethical values (the “hand”).
We have therefore attempted to classify each of our outcome variables as “head,” “heart,” or “hand.” This
categorization is not exact because some of the outcome categories cut across two of the dimensions of
character. Nonetheless, we were able to make reasonable assignments. In doing so we discovered that most
of the variables studied were “hand” (608) with “heart” second (279) followed by “head” (268). Overall, the
success rate for all variables studied combined was 51%, that is, about half of the time variables studied were
found to be positively, significantly impacted by character education.
In looking at the three categories separately, 62% of “head” outcomes tested were significantly positive
compared to 45% of the “heart” and 49% of the “hand” variables. Hence it appears from these findings that it
is easiest to have an impact on the understanding and knowledge of character than on the motivation to act out
of character or the tendency to actually do such actions. Almost half of the “head” variables concerned the
development of moral reasoning. When those elements were dropped, the “head” success rate dropped to
54%, still higher than that for “heart” and “hand.”
Nonetheless, character education programs are successful in impacting character development approximately
half the time. In light of the fact that many of the variables studied did not constitute focal points in the
programs, this is very encouraging news. It suggests that when character education is done well, i.e., with
intentional focus, it should be effective.
Guidelines for Effective Practice
We have learned much from this review of research in character education that can help educators implement
more effectively. These lessons or guidelines will now be discussed.
What We Know
From the research we have just reviewed, we can conclude the following:
What Works in Character Education 19
1. It does work, if effectively designed and implemented. Clearly there is ample evidence of
effective character education. It is not particularly meaningful to state that character education works.
Rather it is more appropriate to state that character education does work if implemented effectively. We
have found much to substantiate that claim and discsuu effective strategies below.
2. It varies. Character education in general, and in particular effective character education as defined
here, comes in quite varied forms. There are whole school reform models, classroom lesson-based
models, target behavior models (e.g., bullying prevention), integrated component models, and so on.
3. It affects much. The array of outcomes of effective character education is also quite disparate.
Character education affects various aspects of the “head,” “heart,” and “hand.” The “head” seems
easiest to influence.
4. It lasts. There is evidence of sustained and even delayed effects of character education. The
Seattle Social Development Project, the Child Development Project, and Positive Action, for
example, show long-term effects of elementary school character education through middle school and/or
high school, and even, for SSDP, into early adulthood.
5. Doing it well matters. When studies examine level of implementation, they typically (and not
surprisingly) find that character education is more effective when it is implemented fully and faithfully
(accurately, with fidelity). It behooves character educators to pay heed to the need to maximize and
assess implementation fidelity. To underscore this, all effective character education programs include
professional development, at least as an option but often as a requirement, and often with substantive
support materials and training experiences.
6. Effective strategies. We have listed the findings about strategies employed by effective programs.
There are some general categories that these specific strategies represent (not surprisingly they are very
similar to those concluded by Solomon, Battistich & Watson, 2001, in their review of the research
a. Professional development. All effective programs build in structures for ongoing professional
training experiences for those implementing the character education initiative or elements of it.
b. Peer interaction. Likewise, all effective programs incorporate peer interactive strategies.
Certainly peer discussion (usually at the classroom or small group level) fits this bill. So do role-play
and cooperative learning.
c. Direct teaching. It is very common to include direct instruction about character. As Thomas
Lickona has long reminded the field, “Practice what you preach, but don’t forget to preach what you
d. Skill training. Many of the common strategies are forms of promoting the development of and
often the direct teaching of social-emotional skills and capacities. These fall into both the categories
of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills (e.g., self-management and conflict resolution,
e. Make the agenda explicit. More than half the programs either make it explicit that character is
the focus or make a focus on morality, values, virtues, or ethics explicit.
f. Family and/or community involvement. This common strategy involves the inclusion of
families, especially parents, and community members and organizations. This includes parents as
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 20
consumers (i.e., offering training to parents) and parents and community as partners (i.e., including
them in the design and delivery of the character education initiative).
g. Providing models and mentors. Many programs incorporate peer and adult role models (both
live and literature based) and mentors to foster character development.
h. Integration into the academic curriculum. We often hear that it is important to integrate
character education into the academic curriculum, especially in this age of No Child Left Behind
legislation and educational accountability. We have also seen that character education promotes
academic learning and achievement. Nearly half of the effective programs actually do this.
i. Multi-strategy approach. Effective character education programs are rarely single-strategy
initiatives. In fact, only Moral Dilemma Discussion, of the 33 programs studied, is a single-strategy
program, and that still encompassed three of our strategy categories (explicit focus on morality, peer
interaction, professional development). The overall average number of strategies within each of the
33 programs was slightly over seven.
Turbo-charging character education
Beyond these research-driven suggestions, there are numerous other things one can do to maximize the impact
of a character education initiative that we have concluded from this review and our general knowledge of
effective practice:
1. Choose tested and effective implementation approaches that match your goals. That is
precisely why “What Works in Character Education” was done and why we have written this guide
for practitioners. Most of character education is very well intended, but because of a lack of
information character educators are not as effective as they can be and need to be. This guide should
help them in the selection of effective approaches, either by giving them a list from which to select
one or more programs that research has demonstrated to be effective (see Table 2) or by allowing
them to incorporate effective elements of such programs into their own character education
2. Train the implementers. Those who will be implementing character education (most often
classroom teachers) need to know what it is and how to implement it fully and faithfully. Research
has shown over and over that incomplete or inaccurate implementation leads to ineffective programs.
If those same implementers are also going to be writing lesson plans or in other ways designing the
implementation, then it is doubly important that they receive adequate professional development.
Unfortunately, professional development is expensive and the substantial time required is at a
premium. Schools and districts need to make professional development a priority or it is unlikely to
happen, and neither is effective character education and ongoing learning communities.
3. Enlist leadership support. There is only a little research indicating the power of leadership
support, but there is much anecdotal and case study information to back it up. Especially when
character education is, as it ought to be optimally, a school-wide or district-wide effort, its success
rises and falls on the shoulders of the administrators, especially the principal (for a school) or the
superintendent (for a district). These educational leaders need the same head, heart and hand that we
expect of students: they need to understand what quality character education is (the head); they need
to commit to and deeply care about the character education and development of their students (the
heart); they need to model good character and practice quality character education as instructional
leaders who know how to implement character education effectively (the hand), in order to inspire
What Works in Character Education 21
and model character and character education, supervise professional development, and ascertain
whether the character education initiative is on course.
4. Assess character education and feed the data back into program improvement. It is important
to know if an initiative is working. The 11
Principle in CEP’s Eleven Principles of Effective
Character Education is “evaluate the character of the school, the school staff’s functioning as
character educators, and the extent to which students manifest good character.” To support this CEP
has published the Primer for Evaluating a Character Education Initiative and Character Education
Evaluation Toolkit and included other evaluation resources on its website (
Educators engaged in character education should assess both the outcomes and the implementation
processes of their effort and in a collegial fashion consider those data as a means for improving
practice. John Marshall and Sarah Caldwell have developed such a model for character education
that is described in detail in Character Evaluation Resource Guide published by CharacterPlus
5. Pay attention to school culture including staff culture. All too often educators focus immediate
attention on programming for students in developing a character education initiative. However, it is
difficult to substantively improve the culture of a school without first attending to the adult culture in
the building. Rick DuFour and Parker Palmer have focused much attention on staff development
and staff culture. Principals often report that they need to first shape the culture among the adults in
their buildings before they can effectively tackle character education and whole school culture.
6. Build student bonding to school. There is evidence from the pre-school level through and
including high school that character education depends in a large part on the degree to which
students bond to, become attached to, or feel a part of their schools. This is also seen in the research
that shows that student perceptions of school as a caring community are critical to the effectiveness
of character education. Schools need to intentionally foster such bonding and to monitor its
7. Think long-term and sustain the commitment. James Comer, developer of the School
Development Project, claims that it takes at least three years to begin to make a positive impact on a
school-wide culture, and that substantial effects are often only seen after five to seven years. In his
work, Comer is trying to take very unsuccessful and challenged schools and radically improve their
cultures, community relations, and student outcomes (both academic and developmental), so it
makes sense that this would be a longer term project. Nonetheless, comprehensive quality character
education is not much different. It aims for whole-school (or district) transformation. This takes
time, and frequently schools (for many legitimate reasons) are not willing to wait for the results.
8. Bundle programs. Many effective character education programs are actually bundles of component
programs. For example, the Seattle Social Development Project includes I Can Solve a Problem,
Catch ‘Em Being Good, Preparing for the Drug Free Years, and How To Help Your Child
Succeed In School. It may be helpful to create a component driven initiative to be effective at
promoting student character development and learning.
9. Include parents and other community representatives. There are many ways to do this. As we
have already shown, parent training and parent involvement in school are important for both
academic and character outcomes. Many programs also include other adults from the community in
design, monitoring, planning, and implementation of character education. Many helpful resources
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 22
can be found at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
( and Developmental Studies Center (DSC) ( websites.
The purpose of this project and this document is to cull what we can from the existing research in order to
help improve character education practice in schools. The obvious limitation in this effort mentioned at the
outset of the report is that we can only reach conclusions about what has been studied. So if, for example, a
particular outcome has not been measured in research studies, we do not know if character education has an
impact on it or not. Likewise, if a particular program or implementation strategy has not been studied, we can
reach no conclusion about it.
One interesting example of an area for which there is, as of yet, no research is the usefulness of a set of
character words in a character education initiative. Traditionally, character education schools (and districts)
have often taken as their point of focus a particular strategy, namely a set of character words. These words
are typically thought of as virtues, character traits, or values, and they serve as the centerpiece of those
character education initiatives. Interestingly, only a few of the programs reviewed in this report employ such
a set of character words as a central part of their implementation strategy sets and, as for almost all the
strategies highlighted here, they do not study the separate impact of such a strategy. Hence we do not have
scientific evidence from which to reach conclusions about the effectiveness of using any particular set of
words. In short, we do not know if a character word set focus is an effective strategy or not.
Character words can also be construed as a listing of outcome variables; i.e., as descriptions of the student
developmental outcomes that the initiatives are intended to foster. For example, when one adopts the
Character Counts! Six Pillars of Character, it is assumed that the character education initiative upon which
it is based is intended to foster the development of those same six virtues in students. Yet rarely are traditional
character education words assessed as outcome variables in the research reviewed here. When such
categories are assessed, they tend to be measured as students’ knowledge (what we called “character
knowledge” in our outcome variable taxonomy) of them. Even then, we found only 18 cases that assessed
character knowledge out of over 1,000 tests of all the outcome variables, and not all of those 18 focused on a
set of core character words.
There are numerous reasons for this. First, some of the more prominent programs that rely on such words
(e.g., Character Counts, The Virtues Project) either have not been researched, or the research that has been
done is not scientifically rigorous. Second, these words represent abstract constructs and are therefore
difficult to assess. It is far easier, for instance, to tally office referrals than to measure a student’s integrity.
Third, some character education models (e.g., Characterplus) recommend local generation of such a list of
words. This leads to practical difficulty in assessing such traits because they tend to vary from site to site
(district to district, or even school to school).
Ultimately we are left unable to conclude anything about whether centering a character education initiative on
a set of such character words is a productive strategy or not. Nor can we conclude whether character
education actually fosters such abstract character traits. Further research will be needed if we are to be able to
meaningfully address these (and many other) important questions. From anecdotal experience it seems
apparent, however, that positing such a list of words without modeling and fostering corresponding behaviors
in the school or classroom culture is not only insufficient to produce significant character development in
students, but may indeed breed cynicism in the students, who perceive the lack of integrity between the
professed words and the culture of the school as they experience it from day to day and moment to moment.
What Works in Character Education 23
A second example of as of yet unknown aspects of character education is the reliance upon literature as a
means of promoting character development in students. Some programs do indeed focus predominantly on
the use of literature (e.g., Voices of Love and Freedom, Loving Well) but they tend not to have solid
scientific research to evaluate their effectiveness. Eight programs utilize literature as one implementation
strategy among many (e.g., Child Development Project), but do not analyze the strategies separately. So,
whereas there is a long-standing belief that the study of appropriate literature is an effective means of
promoting character, we still do not know if that is accurate or not.
Yet another concern relates to the fact that many programs only measure a narrow range of outcomes. The
Moral Dilemma Discussion model, for example, has tended to only look at the development of moral
reasoning, and, in a few cases, moral behavior. Similarly, the Just Community School approach has focused
on moral reasoning and school atmosphere only. So we cannot determine if such programs affect more than
what they measure.
Some programs have been studied but an off-shoot or new version exists that has not been directly studied; for
example, the Child Development Project has been extensively studied and found effective, but its newer and
more readily disseminated spin-off, Caring School Communities, only has some preliminary research.
Currently a well-designed scientific study is in progress in St. Louis. Similarly, while the Resolving Conflict
Creatively Program is well-researched and effective, its derivation as part of Operation Respect’s Don’t
Laugh at Me program only has preliminary research available. Additionally, there are many programs that
look promising but for which there is simply no research available as of yet (e.g., the Giraffe Project,
MindOh). Again, one should not conclude that they are ineffective simply because they have not been
studied. We simply do not know if they are effective or not. It is our hope that this project will help set a
research agenda and inspire future needed research studies (in fact, a well designed study of MindOh is
currently in progress).
One group of programs is at a particular disadvantage here. These are programs that are best understood as
potential components of a comprehensive character education initiative. Such component programs (e.g.,
Project Wisdom, Wise Skills, the Raoul Wallenberg Project) would be difficult to test in the way we have
required. They may not generate impressive results themselves, but as a part of a more complex set of
strategies. We therefore do not want their exclusion from this report to be considered as negative evidence.
Once again, we simply do not know if they are effective or not, and, for such programs, that independent
effectiveness may be difficult to test.
Finally, as already noted, there is very little research on the components of character education programs. The
Seattle Social Development Project employs ten different implementation strategies (according to our
taxonomy) ranging from peer mentoring to parent training to classroom management. Without research that
isolates the effects of these component strategies it is impossible to determine which strategies are causing the
observed outcomes and which may be ineffective or even counter-productive.
What Works in Character Education was designed to learn from scientific research on character education in
order to help practitioners be more effective in fostering the development of students’ character. We have
demonstrated that such research exists, that character education comes in a variety of forms, and that it does
work if effectively designed and implemented. We have also been able to draw conclusions about what
works. We have identified 33 programs with sufficient scientific backing to demonstrate their effectiveness
and numerous implementation strategies that commonly occur in such programs. We have also seen the wide
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 24
range of outcomes affected by the corpus of research on character education and have identified those that are
most commonly and effectively impacted by character education programs. Finally, we have derived “tips”
for practitioners that should make their character education initiatives more effective.
Clearly much more research is needed to answer the many remaining questions about effective character
education. In a separate report (“Charting a Research Agenda for Character Education,”) we identify many of
those questions and suggest critical areas of future research. There is much that we already know and much
that we need to know. We hope this project both answers and asks many such important questions about what
works in character education.
What Works in Character Education 25
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What Works in Character Education 31
Designation: Ideal ( ) Acceptable ( ) Unacceptable ( )
1. Sample Size
1. Inadequate
2. Marginal
3. Adequate
2. Comparison Group
1. No comparison group
2. No assignment method
3. Partial or unclear basis for assignment
4. Random or matched assignment
3. Longitudinal Change Assessment
1. No pretest assessment
2. Pretest/posttest design, but no delayed posttest
3. Pretest/posttest design with delayed posttest
4. Statistical Tests of Significance
1. No statistical tests
2. Significance reported but statistical test not identified
3. Statistical tests and significance reported
5. Publication
1. Unpublished with little methodological reporting
2. Unpublished but with complete methodological report
3. Peer reviewed
6. Implementation
1. Implementation unconfirmed
2. Implementation assessed
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 32
1. Across Ages (elementary, middle*)
2. All Stars (middle)
3. Building Decision Skills with Community Service (middle)
4. Child Development Project (elementary)
5. Facing History and Ourselves (middle , high)
6. Great Body Shop (elementary)
7. I Can Problem Solve (elementary)
8. Just Communities (high)
9. Learning for Life (elementary, middle, high)
10. Life Skills Training (elementary, middle school)
11. LIFT (Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers) (elementary)
12. Lions-Quest (elementary, middle, high)
13. Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (elementary, middle,
14. Moral Dilemma Discussion (elementary, middle, high)
15. Open Circle Program (Reach Out to Schools)(elementary)
16. PeaceBuilders (elementary)
17. Peaceful Schools Project (elementary)
18. Peacemakers (elementary, middle)
19. Positive Action (elementary, middle, high)
20. Positive Action Through Holistic Education (PATHE) (middle, high)
21. Positive Youth Development (middle)
22. Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (elementary)
23. Raising Healthy Children (elementary, middle, high)
24. Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP)(elementary, middle)
25. Responding in Peaceful & Positive Ways (RIPP)(middle school)
26. Roots of Empathy (elementary, middle)
27. Seattle Social Development Project (elementary)
28. Second Step (elementary, middle)
29. Social Competence Promotion Program for Young Adolescence (middle)
30. Social Decision Making & Problem Solving (SDM/PS) (elementary, middle, high)
31. Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (elementary, middle, high)
32. Teen Outreach (middle, high school)
33. The ESSENTIAL Curriculum (Project ESSENTIAL) (elementary, middle)
* Bold text indicates the level for which we analyzed research.
What Works in Character Education 33
Content Elements
1. Explicit Character Education Programs (18)
2. Social and Emotional Curriculum (27)
3. Academic Curriculum Integration (15)
Pedagogical Elements
4. Direct Teaching Strategies (28)
5. Interactive Teaching/ Learning Strategies (33)
6. Classroom / Behavior Management Strategies (15)
7. School-Wide or Institutional Organization (14)
8. Modeling / Mentoring (16)
9. Family/Community Participation (26)
10. Community Service/Service Learning (8)
11. Professional Development (33)
* Number in parentheses indicates the number of programs in which that element was included.
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 34
Table 4
1. Risk Behavior
1.1. Knowledge & Beliefs Re: Risk
1.1.1. Reactions to situations involving drug use
1.1.2. Knowledge about substance abuse
1.1.3. Normative beliefs about high-risk behaviors
1.1.4. Intentions to use substances
1.1.5. Attitudes towards use
1.1.6. Attitudes towards guns and violence
1.1.7. Risk-taking
1.2. Drug Use
1.2.1. Frequency of use
1.2.2. Quantities used
1.2.3. Polydrug use
1.3. Sexual Behavior
1.3.1. Sexual activity
1.4. Protective Skills
1.4.1. Refusal skills
1.4.2. Knowledge of violence-related psychosocial skills
1.5. Violence/Aggression
1.5.1. Ridiculing/bullying
1.5.2. Physical aggression and injury
1.5.3. Name calling and verbal putdowns
1.5.4. Threats and verbal intimidation
1.5.5. Verbal aggression
1.5.6. Dominance-aggression
1.5.7. Victimization
1.5.8. Fighting
1.5.9. Breaking things on purpose
1.5.10. Bringing weapons to school
1.5.11. Non-physical aggression
1.5.12. Self-destructive behavior
1.6. General Misbehavior
1.6.1. Gang activity
1.6.2. Lying
1.6.3. Court contacts
1.6.4. Rude behavior
1.6.5. Defiance of adult authority
1.6.6. Stealing
1.6.7. Vandalism
2. Pro-Social Competencies
2.1. Socio-Moral Cognition
2.1.1. Ethical decision-making ability
2.1.2. Ethical understanding
2.1.3. Understanding multiple perspectives
What Works in Character Education 35
2.1.4. Moral reasoning
2.2. Personal Morality
2.2.1. Sense of justice/fairness
2.2.2. Other moral values
2.2.3. Respect
2.2.4. Honesty
2.2.5. Ethical sensibility
2.2.6. Taking responsibility for one’s actions
2.2.7. Respecting the property of others
2.2.8. Leadership skills
2.2.9. Following rules
2.2.10. Self-discipline
2.3. Pro-Social Behaviors & Attitudes
2.3.1. Ethnocentrism
2.3.2. Sense of social responsibility
2.3.3. Keeping commitments
2.3.4. Getting along with others
2.3.5. Respect and tolerance
2.3.6. Caring & Concern for others
2.3.7. Teamwork and cooperation
2.3.8. Helping others
2.3.9. Including others
2.3.10. Inclination to do community service
2.3.11. Empathy
2.3.12. Sharing
2.3.13. Attitudes and knowledge about community service
2.3.14. Ethical conduct
2.3.15. Participation in positive extra-curricular activities
2.3.16. Participation in civic and social actions
2.3.17. Desire for wealth
2.4. Communicative Competency
2.4.1. Communication skills
2.4.2. Attentive listening
Character Knowledge
2.5.1. Understanding of character attributes
2.5.2. Ethical decision-making
2.6. Relationships
2.6.1. Friends, family
2.6.2. Value intimacy
2.7. Citizenship
2.7.1. Democratic values
2.7.2. Desire for influence/power
3. School-Based Outcomes
3.1. School Behavior
3.1.1. School attendance
3.1.2. Compliance with school rules and expectations
3.1.3. Detentions, suspensions and expulsions
3.1.4. Skipping school without permission
A Research-Driven Guide for Educators 36
3.1.5. Overall classroom behavior
3.1.6. Participation in classroom activities
3.2. Attachment to school
3.2.1. Bonding to school
3.2.2. Sense of school as community
3.2.3. Attachment to school
3.2.4. Feeling of belonging to school community
3.2.5. Levels of classroom interest and enthusiasm
3.3. Attitudes Toward School
3.3.1. Sense of responsibility to school
3.3.2. General school climate is more positive
3.3.3. Adjustment to new school
3.3.4. Safety
3.4. Attitudes Toward teachers
3.4.1. Trust and respect for teachers
3.4.2. Feelings about whether teachers are trustworthy, supportive, fair and consistent
3.5. Academic Goals, Expectations & Motives
3.5.1. Motivation to do well in school
3.5.2. Educational expectations – how far students expect to go
3.5.3. Task mastery goals
3.5.4. Performance oriented goals
3.6. Academic Achievement
3.6.1. Academic achievement including grades, test scores
3.6.2. Promotion to the next grade
3.7. Academic skills
3.7.1. Creative learning strategies
3.7.2. Study skills
3.7.3. Ability to focus on work/stay on task
4. General Social-Emotional
4.1. Self-Concept
4.1.1. Self-perception
4.1.2. Self-esteem
4.1.3. Appreciates his/her schoolwork, work products and activities
4.1.4. Refers to himself in generally positive terms
4.2. Independence and Initiative
4.2.1. Undertakes new tasks willingly
4.2.2. Valuing independence
4.2.3. Making decisions that affect students
4.2.4. Makes good choices
4.2.5. Self-direction and independence in activities
4.2.6. Initiates new ideas relative to classroom activities and projects
4.2.7. Asks questions when he/she does not understand
4.2.8. Makes decisions regarding things that affect him/her
4.2.9. Acts as a leader in group situations with peers
4.2.10. Readily expresses opinions
4.2.11. Assertiveness
4.3. Coping
4.3.1. Adapts easily to change in procedures
4.3.2. Copes with failure by dealing with mistakes or failures easily and comfortably
What Works in Character Education 37
4.3.3. Takes criticism or corrections in stride without overreacting
4.3.4. Self-efficacy
4.3.5. Depression
4.3.6. Negative expectations for the future
4.3.7. Coping skills
4.4. Problem Solving Skills
4.4.1. Alternative solutions
4.4.2. Consequential thinking
4.4.3. Behavioral adjustment
4.4.4. Conceptualizing cause-and-effect
4.4.5. Conflict resolution strategies
4.5. Emotional Competency
4.5.1. Ability to discuss emotional experiences
4.5.2. Recognizing emotional cues
4.5.3. Understanding how emotions change
4.5.4. Stress/anxiety reduction techniques
4.5.5. Feelings vocabulary
4.5.6. Understanding simultaneous feelings
4.5.7. Expressing emotions appropriately
4.5.8. Impatience
4.5.9. Emotionality
4.5.10. Impulsivity
4.5.11. Shyness
4.5.12. Hyperactivity
4.6. Attitudes, Knowledge, Beliefs re: Elders
4.6.1. Knowledge about older people
4.6.2. Attitudes towards school, elders and the future
4.6.3. Attitudes towards older people
... International schools have gravitated towards CE for many of the same reasons that schools in the United States have -namely, as a way to combat cheating, absenteeism, racism, intolerance, aggression, defiance, drug use, sexual promiscuity, peer-to-peer violence, and bullying (Berkowitz, 2021;Berkowitz & Bier, 2007;Diggs & Akos, 2016;Durdukoca, 2019;Gray, 2010;Jeynes, 2017;Lickona, 1993;Robertson-Kraft & Austin, 2015;Watts et al., 2021). ...
... The most detailed studies and information outlining the impact and implementation of CE programs (Berkowitz, 2021;Berkowitz & Bier, 2007;Card, 2017;Davidson et al., 2008;Duckworth et al., 2014;Leming & Yendol-Hoppey, 2004;Lickona, 2004;Lockwood, 2009;Park et al., 2017) come from articles and books written about programs inside the United States. ...
... School systems are highly complex and no two schools are exactly alike. While there is ample evidence that character initiatives can positively impact school climate, academic achievement, and student behavior (Berkowitz, 2012(Berkowitz, , 2021Berkowitz & Bier, 2007;Berkowitz et al., 2017;Diggs & Akos, 2016;Duckworth et al., 2014), there is no clear data about how students view the effects of these programs. Berkowitz and Bier (2007) argue that since schools are multifaceted environments, it is unlikely that a single implementation strategy [like CE] will yield enough of an impact to counterbalance the multitude of other influences in that environment (p. ...
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Character education programs have been increasing in size and scope throughout the United States and in the world as an answer to a perceived increase in academic underachievement, classroom misbehavior, aggression, violence, bullying, drug use, alcohol abuse, suicides, sexual promiscuity, school shootings, and crime among developing youths. Three research questions guided this investigation into the ways 12 middle school eighth-grade students identified the most salient character traits within one character education program in one international school in Colombia. Since character education is such a broad construct, this research study employed the tripartite taxonomy of character to better understand how character traits identified by the participants impacted their achievement character, social character, and intellectual character. This study used an embedded-single case study design to collect descriptions, views, and insights from the participants. The results of the study revealed that the character traits of responsibility and commitment were the most predominant traits impacting achievement character, self-awareness and volition were the most significant traits impacting the positive relationships the participants maintained with peers within the social character domain, and proactivity and curiosity had the most influence on thinking and learning within the intellectual character domain. This study offers implications for school leaders and character education advocates aiming to implement character development programs in K-12 schools.
... Therefore, moral education includes all circumstances in schools that intentionally aim to facilitate the moral development of students whether directly or indirectly (Gamage et al., 2021;Noddings, 2008). It aims at the holistic development of students with strong characteristics, encompassing moral values such as honesty, justice, loyalty, fairness, and courage (Alvi et al., 2020;Berkowitz & Bier, 2007;Carr, 2008). A foremost and vital role in connection with moral development involves the home environment, schools, and the community at large (Singh, 2019). ...
... The study found that both public and private sector school teachers believe that moral education is neither significantly contributing towards improvement of students' performance nor reducing their negative behaviour. On the contrary, Berkowitz and Bier (2007) in a study underscored several benefits of moral education and advocated that there is a significant correlation between academic achievement and aspects of character education. Similarly, Burgoon (2018) in a study concluded that moral education has a profound impact on students' academic and social development. ...
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Moral education is a stimulation of the natural development of learners' moral judgment, which in turn, enables them to manage their behavior. Schools can be successful in developing moral values in students through teachers and a positive school environment. However, due to teachers' packed routines and lack of school attention towards the moral domain, this aspect of teaching is mainly neglected. The current quantitative study aimed to explore teachers' perceptions in private and public sector schools regarding the development of moral values through formal education using a survey. It further endeavored to draw a comparison between the teachers' perceptions regarding moral education in private and public schools for a better insight into the moral development of students in a holistic learning environment. Findings revealed that teachers from both sectors believed religion to be the prime source of moral values. They perceived teaching moral values as important but were less focused on modeling themselves as moral agents. Furthermore, there were no significant differences between the perceptions of public and private sector teachers regarding the importance, efficacy, and practice of moral education. However, a moderate correlation between perceived importance and subsequent practices was found to some extent.
... It is for sure that parents have great influence on their child since they are the closest people and the first teachers of children in meeting their needs in the 0-6 age period (Gordon, 1993). What's more, parents have a key role in children's positive character traits (Berkowitz and Bier, 2007). They are the main components of children's character development and education because they are the first teachers of their children (Brannon, 2008). ...
... A common belief held by character education advocates is that the practice is inextricably tied to teaching practices, thereby residing in school curriculum both implicitly and explicitly (Williams, 2000). Schools that effectively utilize character education have reported gains in students' test performance, appreciation of education, and understanding of content knowledge (Berkowitz & Bier, 2007;Corrigan, Grove, Vincent, Chapman, & Walls, 2007;Krasmtsova, 2008;Park & Peterson, 2009). ...
... A wide range of activities that shape the dynamics of boarding school and involves all elements of boarding school, becomes a core medium in educating character. This kind of method is suitable with the idea of Berkowitz and Melinda (2007) who saw that character education could be done through school programs entirely (inside and outside the classroom). 24 Moreover, this research finding also emphasizes the result of research done by Anwar Fatah (2011) which stated that successful character education could be performed through the Whole School Development Approach which requires the involvement of all school's elements (headmaster, teacher, student, and staff). ...
Due to its significance, character education implementation at Indonesian educational institutions including the Indonesian Islamic Boarding School (pesantren) is compulsory. However, the quality of its implementation within pesantren needs to be developed. This research was conducted to investigate the implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) in the character education process as an endeavour to create Indonesian good citizens. To achieve the research objectives, a qualitative case study design at PesantrenGontor was employed. The research found that the process of character education at this pesantren is based on the core values of Gontor. There are some core characters inculcated at Gontor comprising sincerity, simplicity, self-reliance, care, freedom, religiousness, tolerance, discipline, and responsibility. Those characters are inculcated through the dynamic totality of campus life which contains a wide range of activities aimed at creating good citizens for Indonesia. The methods of character education are role model, creating a conducive milieu, directing, giving assignments, habituation, instruction, and training. Those methods are underpinned by the implementation of the basic concept of TQM that emphasises customer satisfaction which is limited by Gontor values. Based on the research findings, pesantren-based character education which is underpinned by TQM could be adopted by other models of educational institutions.
... Sehingga setiap perkataan dan perbuatan dapat dinilai sebagai karakter. Oleh karena itu muatan pendidikan karakter difokuskan pada attitudes, behavior, emotions, dan cognitions [6]. ...
Artikel ini bertujuan untuk menjelaskan bagaimana mengintegrasikan pendidikan karakter dalam pembelajaran fisika khususnya pada materi alat optik. Dilakukan kajian literatur untuk mendapatkan hasil korelasi antara pemilihan model pembelajaran dengan integrasi pendidikan karakter. Selanjutnya diperoleh bahwa pembelajaran berbasis masalah terintegrasi pendidikan karakter lebih efektif.
Kindness is key to flourishing school communities. A social-cognitive approach to virtue emphasizes the importance of having an elaborate set of accessible mental representations (i.e., schemas) for expressing kindness. We employed a multi-informant, mixed method, longitudinal design across 6 months that focused on 4th and 5th graders’ (N = 320) kindness schemas using the open-ended question, ‘What are some ways you can show kindness to others?’ Results indicated that children’s schemas entailed wide-ranging content, expressing virtues of generosity, compassion, inclusion, civility, and harm avoidance. The breadth of children’s schema repertoires was positively associated with peer (but not teacher) ratings of their kindness, and virtues that attend to others’ vulnerability (compassion, inclusion) were the most indicative of children’s kindness from peers’ perspectives. Further, the breadth of kindness repertoires was associated with aspects of classroom ecology (e.g., peer acceptance), suggesting that positive classroom relationships may serve as sites for the cultivation of kindness schemas.
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Most ethics and research integrity (ERI) training approaches are based on teaching moral rules, duties or responsibilities, often not sufficiently addressing virtue-based ethics. This study aimed to obtain a consensus among relevant experts on the importance of essential virtues for ERI training and their acquisitions. A modified Delphi consensus process was conducted in three rounds; 31 ERI experts participated in Round 1 and 23 in Round 2 and Round 3. Based on findings generated from qualitative data in Round 1, a structured questionnaire with 90 different statements grouped under five domains was developed for Round 2 and Round 3. After the final round, a consensus was achieved on two-thirds of statements included in this study. The experts agreed that virtues are based on learned and reflected attitudes and that the appropriate direction to acquire research virtues is through continuing education using case studies and discussions based on real-life scenarios. Furthermore, the consensus was obtained on 35 scientific virtues that should be stimulated in ERI training, prioritizing honesty, integrity, accountability, criticism and fairness as the most essential scientific virtues for good research practice. These results should be considered in developing or adjusting the ERI training program and materials.
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This study aims to describe the character of the Prabu Kresna character in Serat Pedhalangan Lampahan Tunggul Wulung on the scene in pathet nem. This lampahan tells the story of King Kresna who is a king in the Dwarawati Kingdom. Serat Pedhalangan Lampahan Tunggul Wulung is interesting to study because there are many values ​​of character education that can be translated into education. The author of this study will focus on exemplary methods to develop character in elementary school children. This exemplary method can be implemented in teaching and learning activities in class. King Kresna is the focus of this study because he is a depiction of a wise king. This exemplary method will be integrated into Javanese language subjects, especially puppet material. The data in this study are dialogues, monologues, sentences, and narratives of Prabu Kresna's character who show character education. The data analysis technique of this research is a documentation study technique. The approach used in this research is descriptive qualitative. The results of the study show that Prabu Kresna shows a character that can be used as guidance in the Tunggul Wulung Lightning Pedhalangan 1) respect for others; 2) nationalism; 3) religion and 4) leadership.
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PeaceBuilders is a universal, elementary-school-based violence prevention program that attempts to alter the climate of a school by teaching students and staff simple rules and activities aimed at improving child social competence and reducing aggressive behavior. Eight matched schools (N > 4,000 students in Grades K-5) were randomly assigned to either immediate postbaseline intervention (PBI) or to a delayed intervention 1 year later (PBD). Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze results from assessments in the fall and spring of 2 consecutive school years. In Year 1, significant gains in teacher-rated social competence for students in Grades K-2, in child self-reported peace-building behavior in Grades K-5, and reductions in aggressive behavior in Grades 3-5 were found for PBI but not PBD schools.Differential effects in Year 1 were also observed for aggression and prosocial behavior. Most effects were maintained in Year 2 for PBI schools, including increases in child prosocial behavior in Grades K-2. Implications for early universal school-based prevention and challenges related to evaluating large-scale prevention trials are discussed.
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Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine relationships between students' sense of school community, poverty level, and student attitudes, motives, beliefs, and behavior among a diverse sample of 24 elementary schools. Major findings were that: (a) within schools, individual students' sense of school community was significantly associated with almost all of the student outcome measures, (b) Between schools, school-level community and poverty were both significantly related to many of the student outcomes (the former positively, the latter negatively), (c) Most of the relationships between school community and student measures held for schools at different poverty levels, (d) Several significant interactions between school community and poverty level indicated that some of the strongest positive effects of school community occurred among schools with the most disadvantaged student populations.
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Students (second through fifth graders) in 2 elementary school programs with very different structures in 2 districts were compared over 4 years on measures of social development. One program (EXS) emphasized an external motivational orientation with a focus on student accountability and a management system based on competition. The other (CDP program) focused on helping children develop an internal commitment to values and norms through a focus on developmental discipline, cooperative learning, helping activities, social understanding activities, and prosocial values. The 1 EXS school, 3 CDP program schools, and a group of 3 CDP comparison schools that were not implementing any specific intervention program, shared generally similar demographic characteristics. Over the 4 years students were assessed on a number of instruments including structured classroom observations, individual student interviews, large-group questionnaires, and small-group tasks (4-person and dyadic). In addition, teachers completed an extensive questionnaire related to program philosophy and implementation. Results showed the schools to be different in ways consistent with their intended philosophies, with the EXS classrooms using more external controls and the CDP classrooms using more prosocial activities. The EXS teachers described their school as more active, businesslike, traditional, creative, innovative, and supportive. Students in the EXS school demonstrated higher self-esteem than did the CDP students over a 2-year period. Motivation for prosocial behavior was more extrinsic in the EXS school and more intrinsic in the CDP program schools. Third-grade students' interpersonal behavior was more helpful and supportive in the CDP schools.
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Concern about violence in schools has resulted in numerous conflict resolution and peer mediation programs being implemented, though there is very little research examining their effectiveness. The exception is the Teaching Students to be Peacemakers program, which teaches students to be peacemakers in five steps: learning what is and what is not a conflict; negotiating integrative agreements to conflicts; mediating classmates' conflicts; implementing the program; and receiving ongoing training. Between 1988-00, the paper's authors conducted 17 studies on the effectiveness of conflict resolution training in eight different schools in two countries. Participating students ranged from kindergarten through ninth grade and attended rural, suburban, and urban schools. Data collection involved observations, interviews, conflict report forms, written and oral responses to conflict scenarios, role playing responses to conflict scenarios, and actual conflicts created with classmates. Results indicated that students learned the conflict resolution procedures taught, retained their knowledge throughout the school year, applied the conflict resolution procedures to actual conflicts, transferred the procedures to nonclassroom and nonschool settings, used the procedures similarly in family and school settings, and, when given the option, engaged in problem solving rather than win-lose negotiations. Appended are 2 tables and 17 Peacemaker Studies References. (Contains 43 references.) (SM)
We evaluated the impact of RIPP-7, a seventh grade violence prevention curriculum designed to strengthen and extend the effects of the sixth grade RIPP-6 curriculum. Classes of seventh graders at two urban middle schools serving predominantly African-American youth where RIPP-6 had been implemented the preceding school year were randomized to intervention (N = 239) and control groups (N = 237). Compared to students in the control group, students who participated in RIPP-7 had fewer disciplinary code violations for violent offenses during the following school year. A limited number of main effects were found on self-report outcome measures and measures of attitudes. Although significant main effects were not found on self-report measures of physical aggression, drug use, or anxiety, analyses of interactions with pretest scores indicated that intervention effects were significantly moderated by pretest scores for several outcome measures. Students most likely to benefit from the intervention were those who reported higher pretest rates of problem behaviors including violent behavior, nonphysical aggression, and delinquent behavior.
Between 1988 and 1994 we conducted 7 studies on the effectiveness of conflict resolution training in 6 different schools in 2 different countries. Students involved were from first through ninth grades. Two approaches to peer mediation were studied—total student body and school cadre. The studies were conducted in both suburban and urban settings. The training programs lasted from 9 to 15 hours in length. Five of the studies involved control groups. In 3 of the studies, classrooms and/or controls were selected randomly from the school; in 1 study students were assigned randomly to conditions. In 4 of the studies teachers were rotated across conditions. The findings indicate that students learn the conflict resolution procedures taught, retain their knowledge throughout the school year, apply the conflict resolution procedures to actual conflicts, transfer the procedures to nonclassroom and nonschool settings, use the procedures similarly in family and school settings, and, when given the option, engage in problem solving rather than win—lose negotiations. The results further demonstrate that conflict resolution procedures can be taught in a way that increases academic achievement and that the adults in the school perceive the conflict resolution program to be constructive and helpful.
One hundred fifty-four fourth graders took part in an investigation of the Open Circle Program (OCP), an intervention model that encourages students, teachers and administrators to learn and practice communication, self-control and social problem-solving skills. Eight classrooms, two in each of four schools, were sampled. Two of these schools were located in middle to upper-middle class suburban areas and two served more diverse populations. Half the classrooms were headed by teachers well versed in OCP curriculum. The other half was not implementing a social competence program. Participants completed the student version of the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) once in the fall and again in the spring. Teachers also rated the social competence of students at these same two points in the school year. Doubly-repeated measures mixed-design MANOVA analyses revealed that across the school year, OCP participants showed significantly greater teacher-reported improvements in both social skills and problem behaviors than did control group members. Although the largest gains were made by OCP children in urban areas, significant positive effects of program participation were shown by all students, regardless of school setting.
A review was conducted of 55 studies of education interventions designed to stimulate development in moral judgment. All studies used the Defining Issues Test. Various subject groups were involved (junior and senior high school students, college and graduate students, adults), various types of programs were employed (group discussion of moral dilemmas, psychological development programs, social studies and humanities courses), and the duration of the programs varied (a few hours to a year-long program). The principal findings from meta-analysis indicate that the dilemma discussion and psychological development programs produce modest overall effect sizes, that treatments of about 3 to 12 weeks are optimal, and that programs with adults (24 years and older) produce larger effect sizes than with younger subjects; however, significant effect sizes are obtained with all groups.
A competence‐building model of primary prevention was evaluated on 131 inner‐city black nursery and kindergarten children over a two year period. The major question is whether enhancing interpersonal cognitive problem solving (ICPS) skills of four‐and five‐year‐olds could improve inhibited and impulsive behaviors when they already exist, and prevent them from emerging when they do not. Findings suggest that ICPS training does reduce and prevent such behaviors, that the ICPS and behavioral impact of such programming lasts at least one full year following intervention, and that for youngsters not trained in nursery, kindergarten is not too late. However, more children do begin kindergarten at a better behavioral van‐tagepoint if lCPS‐programming is implemented a year earlier, in nursery.
Recognizing that enhancing the interpersonal problem solving skills of children as young as age four can reduce or prevent high-risk behaviors later on, researchers designed a competence-building model of primary prevention. The two criteria tested were: (1) the theory of interpersonal cognitive problem solving (ICPS) skills as mediators of social adjustment and psychological functioning in inner-city fifth and sixth graders; and (2) the impact of a full-scaled four month ICPS intervention on behavioral adjustment and psychological functioning in school. By comparing ICPS-trained subjects (interpersonal cognition) with a group trained in Critical Thinking (impersonal cognition), investigators examined cognitive and behavioral impact after one exposure in grade 5, and after two exposures in grades 5 and 6. Results suggest that for this age and socio-economic status (SES) group, one exposure to ICPS training enhances ICPS and prosocial behaviors, but it requires a second exposure to reduce negative, impulsive, and inhibited behaviors. With no such interpersonal or behavior gains in the Critical Thinking (CT) groups for either year (CT groups actually became more impulsive from grade 5 to grade 6) it appears that ICPS training is a viable model of prevention for this age and SES group. Full behavioral impact for latency-aged, low SES youngsters may take longer than the briefer one-time exposure required for youngsters in preschool and kindergarten. (RJM)