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Character Education Literature Review

1698 words - 7 pages

The basis of good character involves being respectful, honest, hardworking, responsible, caring, and understanding. Parents and teachers alike wish for their students to possess good character; but what does “character” mean in the realm of education; and whose responsibility is it to ensure that students do in fact develop good character? The Character Education Partnership (2003, pg. 1), defines good character as involving “understanding, caring about, and acting upon core ethical values”, and thus takes a holistic approach to the development of character in students by developing the “cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of moral life.” Through character education, students can grow to understand core values, learn to develop caring relationships, and grow in self-motivation; thus students grow in character as their understanding and subsequent commitment deepens through varied opportunities to apply values through everyday interactions (CEP, 2003). In theory, a student who possesses good character is a more productive, responsible, respectful, and caring student; yet the question as to whether a student with good character is a better student academically remains.
Over the past few decades, the need for character education programs in United States’ schools has been widely debated and become increasingly popular particularly at the elementary level. Several states, including California, mandate that schools in some way focus on the social and emotional development of students through character education (USDE, 2011). According to legislation in the state of California, all California teachers are supplied with a character education manual with the expectation that each teacher impress the qualities of good character upon his/her students (USDE, 2011). However, the recent character education movement has collided directly with the increased pressure to raise student achievement, specifically in language arts and mathematics. Even though current legislation states the importance of building both character and academic achievement in every child, schools may find it difficult to focus on both equally; especially when academic achievement has been put on the front burner as a result of high stakes testing. The purpose of this literature review is to look at research studies that have been conducted on the topic of character education and its effects on the academic achievement of students.
Literature for this review was acquired through the National University Library database search engines from Gale and EBSCO Host using the exact key terms: “character education” or “moral education” (taken from the Subject Thesaurus) and “achievement”; (character education or moral education) and achievement; (character education or moral education) and academic achievement; “character education” and theor*; and “character education” and theor* and achievement. Selective databases from EBSCO Host were used including: ERIC; Academic Search Premier; and...

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