Date of Award

Fall 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership

First Advisor

Randy Parker


This qualitative study examined character education within one educational setting. The researcher created a holistic, narrative description of the extent, quality, and impact of character education at one North Louisiana high school. An emergent design was utilized to examine inductively participants' perceptions of character education initiatives within this single, educational site.

The research questions in this study were: (a) How do participants (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members) define character education, and what do they perceive its value to be? (b) How do participants perceive character education in relation to values? (c) How is character education viewed by the participants in relation to attempts to regulate morality? (d) What is the scope of the character education movement within the school site? (e) How has character education impacted the climate and culture of the site, as well as the overall education of the students? and (f) How has character education affected the attitude and behavior of students?

This research was based on the naturalistic inquiry process. Purposeful sampling was used to maximize information from 42 participants. The researcher, a participant-observer, administered structured and unstructured interviews, gathered and analyzed relevant documents, and made regular, on-site observations of participants. Information from observations, document analysis, and interviews were coded and categorized to reflect the emergent themes. This research approach provided a rich description of the perceptions of administrators, guidance counselors, community-resource people, club sponsors, teachers, parents, and students regarding character education efforts at their school.

The majority of participants defined character education as an attempt to improve the morality and/or values of students. Most stakeholders expressed that the traits promoted through character education are similar to, if not the same as, values and that they did not view character education as an attempt to regulate morality. Descriptions of character education efforts at this school included both extracurricular and classroom efforts. The predominant belief among participants was that character education had a positive impact on the climate, culture, and educational environment of their students.