Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dwight W. Allen

Committee Member

Eleanor C. Handerhan

Committee Member

S. Rex Morrow

Committee Member

Rebecca S. Bowers

Committee Member

Donna B. Evans


This case study seeks to provide insight into the community perception of character education in a large urban area that does not currently implement an explicit program in moral values. The community is established through adolescents in middle school, parents of the adolescents, school counselors and community members. Informants are selected in an attempt to ensure a diverse cross section of the middle school communities.

Perceptions of character education are established through the process of interviews and a card sort involving a total N of 72 stakeholders. Each respondent is asked to provide definitions, synonyms and/or examples of a given moral value. This phase of the study is conducted to allow for clarification and identification of individual perceptions and definitions associated with a given moral value. This is followed by an open-ended questionnaire which permits respondents to validate the list of morals while at the same time offer additional input. In the final phase of the interview, respondents separate the moral values to distinguish the important from the less important. From the important values, they rank order the top 5.

The results of the interviews indicate that there is no significant difference in the perception of character education among the various educational stakeholders in this urban community. Eighty four percent of the respondents participating in the interview feel that public education does have a role in teaching moral values. Ninety one percent of the respondents feel that there are common moral values regardless of ethnicity and religion. Based on the identification and rankings of the moral values, a pattern emerges that indicates possible community collaboration in character education.


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