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Volume 18 ✤ Number 1 ✤ Fall 2006 ✤ pp. 82–114

Relationships Between
Character Education,
Student Behavior, and Student


Gary Skaggs
Nancy Bodenhorn
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

One of the requirements of the Department of Education, through the No Child Left Behind Act, is to conduct rigorous, experimental design studies showing the impact and results of educational endeavors. Character education (CE), while widely implemented in schools nationwide, has not been widely researched using comparative studies. Studies have been conducted, indicating positive student development resulting from CE programs or programs that provide a desirable CE environment (Harrington,
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Some programs target specific aspects of character development, such as bullying, communication skills, or community building, while others are more comprehensive. The current trend in character education practice involves an emphasis on similarities rather than differences; a balance of moral reasoning skills and establishing behavioral habits; a balance of focus on the responsibilities of the individual and the community; an inclusion of cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions; and an expectation for educators to serve as role models for students (Williams,
2000). DeRoche and Williams (2001) reviewed effective CE programs and found the following common components: vision, standards, expectations, implementation criteria, leadership, resources, training, partnerships, and assessment.


Journal of Advanced Academics

Skaggs & Bodenhorn

This study grew out of an evaluation of CE programs initiated in 5 public school districts in a state in the eastern United States.
The evaluation resulted from a U.S. Department of Education
(DOE) grant to assist states in implementing new CE programs or supplementing existing CE programs. The grant project was called the Partnership in Character Education and was comprised of the state department of education and 5 school districts, referred to as
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