Date of Award

8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

Schools are constantly challenged to make students better readers and better thinkers, but what about better people? The historical partnership of education and moral development places schools in a significant role. Evolving societal attitudes towards this volatile and politically charged idea as well as a growing diversity of public opinion regarding what and whose values should be taught in schools remains an obstacle. This thesis project discusses the imperative nature of educational activities focused on moral development as part of students’ school experience. It argues that moral development is in the best interest of students for future success in society as much as proficiency in academic core areas. The literature review discusses the history of character education, analyzes the implementation of character education in public schools, demonstrates the benefits of character education for primary students and their parents, and considers the relationship between character education and good citizenship. This project explored the development and study of the successful integration of character education into students' daily routine in a kindergarten classroom. Additionally, student awareness of these traits and class behaviors were also noted. Two specific character traits, responsibility and tolerance, were incorporated, examined, and practiced by eighteen kindergarten students. This four-week study was conducted in a rural school district located in Western New York. Students were given pre and post surveys to assess awareness and understanding of each character trait. Post-study student interviews were conducted to discuss perceptions of the character trait and how they felt they had personally demonstrated each character trait. Informal, anecdotal observations were noted with regard to positive and/or negative demonstrations of the studied character traits seen in the school setting. Conclusions drawn from the data analysis show a direct correlation between character development education and its effect on student behaviors in a school setting for one of the two traits, responsibility. The second character trait, tolerance, according to data gathered, did not show a demonstrated increase through the study time frame.

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