Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Joseph Melita

Second Advisor

William Leary

Third Advisor

Adam Kosnitzky

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed study is to provide a rationale to implement an effective student centered secondary character education program that will (1) characterize the components of effective secondary character education; (2) help students identify and use their character strengths; (3) assist students to increase their social skills; and (4) provide the basis for action research. The reason for this research is to validate the effectiveness of such a program as part of the solution strategy that is vital to secondary students’ in making informed decisions regarding college, employment, and daily interactions with others.

Effective secondary character education must go beyond motivational posters and other trinkets to be relevant to secondary students (Romanowski, 2003; Martinson, 2003). Hence, the researcher has permission to administer the Values in Action for Youth (VIA) survey at Riviera Beach Maritime Academy Charter Secondary School in Florida. Preference was given to charter schools because charters have greater autonomy to implement innovative programs such as the VIA survey (Green III, Baker and Oluwole, 2013).

The students’ instructor received professional development to enable her to successfully implement the secondary character education model used in the investigation. A training session was also provided for participants’ parents. Moreover, the researcher completed a character education course at the University of Birmingham, England to validate expertise in effective secondary character education.

The convenient sample consisted of sixteen participants from 16 to 18 years of age at Maritime Academy. The participants were at risk students who failed one or more standardized exams. All were enrolled in a course at Maritime Academy for greater preparation of standardized tests. The independent variables include the juniors and seniors at Maritime Academy who took the VIA survey.

The dependent variables are the outcomes for the components of an effective secondary character education program and its impact on students’ increased social skills as well as their knowledge and use of individual character strengths. Data analysis included a summative review for the components of the model used in this study; a Likert scale to determine participants’ increased social skills and its corresponding regression to the mean according to participants’ instructor’s perception; and the VIA researcher’s gender report on students’ character strengths provided by the VIA Institute on Character.

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