Character Education in Public Schools: Building an Effective Program

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Virginia Tech

Educational leaders, families, and politicians debate the methods for teaching, the materials taught, and the content learned (Benninga, Berkowitz, Kuehn, and Smith, 2006; Kohn, 1997). These stakeholders all agree, however, that a major goal for education is to produce learned, productive members of society (DeRoche and Williams, 2001). The goal of this research is to develop a framework that provides schools and division-level leaders with essential elements to resolve character education issues and to provide the means for implementing and evaluating those programs.

I used the Delphi research method to collect information from notable researchers and practitioners in the educational world (Keeney, McKenna, and Hasson, 2010). Many of the panelists were selected because their previous research on character education formed a large part of my literature review in Chapter 2. The practitioners are current superintendents, principals, or program directors in representative school systems. The study itself consisted of three rounds of questionnaires; the first round consisted of three open-ended questions that then elicited responses on which the other two rounds were based.

The panelists indicated that clearly defined goals and values, stakeholder buy-in, and inclusion of social/emotional issues were the essential elements needed for an effective character education program. Shared responsibilities by stakeholders and student-driven debates were seen as the keys to implementing said program. Finally, the panelists concurred that attendance and discipline data and surveys were the best tools/methods for evaluating character education programs.

Respect, Integrity, Stakeholder, Consensus