In 2015, we submitted an extensive 10-year review research paper to the Journal of Character Education for publication. We are awaiting publication, but providing it below for your review. It documents the development of the Character Development & Leadership Program and the supporting research studies since 2003. It also highlights how the CD&L Program is aligned with the ELA common core standards and how the 10 lesson plans per trait address the individual learning styles of students. This is a summary report that identifies the findings and trends from the individual yearly reports that can be accessed further down this page. We feel that cumulatively, these reports will suffice when someone asks if this is “research-based,” or if districts want to use categorical funds to purchase the CDL Program.
With over 1,800 schools participating from all 50 states and 8 countries, this has become one of the largest research studies at the secondary level on character education in America. Each school that uses this curriculum has the option of participating in the research package for a nominal fee. This includes students taking online pre-surveys at the beginning of the semester and post-surveys at the end of the semester. We analyze 84 different variables and break these variables into 3 Desirable Attribute Scales and 6 Undesirable Attribute Scales. In addition, we ask students to evaluate the program and the level to which it improved their lives. CD&L provides each participating school with an “all-schools” report and an “individual school report, allowing principals and teachers to understand how well this curriculum is working at their respective school. The following is a summary of the research package and what the reports entail.
Twenty-seven high schools and five intermediate schools participated in the 2014-2015 empirical outcomes assessment. Self-reports by 330 socio-culturally and socio-economically diverse students before and after their participation in the CD&L Program were compared to assess changes in attitudes and behavior. Despite the leveling effect of this diversity on the data, all of the students as a group valued the CD&L Program, demonstrated a decrease in school disruptive behaviors and other antisocial actions, and demonstrated an increase in prosocial expectations and behaviors.
The mission of the CD&L Program is to foster perceptions, attitudes, and actions necessary to the development of healthy character and leadership in emerging citizens. This program is taught by classroom teachers to secondary students. Feedback from 4331 male and female socioculturally- and subculturally-diverse students indicates that they are on their way. As a group they valued this program and they demonstrated an increase in prosocial expectations and behaviors and a decrease in negative ones, including school disruptive behaviors and other antisocial actions.
2009 – 2010 Report
Seventy-five schools participated and thirty-four of the schools had useable data from 18 states in 2009-2010 study of student character and leadership. The schools represented in this analysis included schools that contributed more than one pre and one posttest for the analysis. There were a total of 2,525 pre tests and 1,344 posttests from 34 schools used in the analysis. Ninth grade students made up 39% of the participants. Gender was 52% female and 48% male. We studied eighty-four variables and divided them into the nine distinct constructs. Eight of the nine constructs were statistically significant in the desired direction. In addition, classroom feedback is still very positive from the students. For further information, please review the 2009-2010 “All Schools Report.”
2004 – 2005 Research
In the 2004-2005 school year 74 high schools used a curriculum called Character Development & Leadership (CD&L). Of those schools, 28 schools participated in the research study. Of those schools, 11 met the criteria to be included in the study: (1) students in the course completed the on-line pre-test, (2) students in the course completed the on-line post-test and (3) schools collected official office data on attendance, suspensions, grade point averages and End of Course (EOC) tests. Additionally, four schools provided control groups. Finally, it should be noted that of the 11 schools included in this report, all of the students were freshmen.
2001 – 2003 Research
In collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, this class was evaluated for two full years on over 270 variables. Using a research methodology that integrated a control group and a pre/post-test design, we discovered many positive findings. For instance, students who took the class:
- Tardies, absences & in school suspensions decreased
- GPA improved from 2.04 to 2.74
- Drug use, abusive behavior toward girlfriend & fighting decreased
- The use of favorable aspects of character increased
We hypothesized that strengthening a child’s character would improve other important aspects of a student’s life – now we are proving it! Based on these findings we marketed this class to high school teachers and administrators. As a result, this curriculum is being used by over 1800 high schools, middle schools, and alternative schools in the United States.