The Value of a Developmental Approach to Evaluating Character Development Programmes: An outcome study of Facing History and Ourselves
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Moral Education 30 (1):3-27 (2001)
An outcome study of the Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) programme is used to illustrate a developmental evaluation methodology developed by the Group for the Study of Interpersonal Development (GSID). The GSID approach to programme evaluation of character development programmes embeds the evaluation into a theoretical framework consonant with the theoretical underpinnings of the programme, using measures sharing the same theoretical assumptions as the practice. The subjects in this study were students in eighth-grade social studies and language arts classes in public schools located in suburban and urban communities in the United States. The sample included 346 subjects in 14 FHAO classes (212 FH AO students) and eight comparison classes (134 comparison students). A 10-week Facing History and Ourselves curriculum was taught in the FH AO classrooms either in late winter or spring. The study demonstrated that eighth-grade students in Facing History classrooms showed increases across the school year in relationship maturity and decreases in racist attitudes and self-reported fighting behaviour relative to comparison students, although these findings were complicated by interaction effects with gender. The gains Facing History students made in moral reasoning and in civic attitudes and participation were not significantly greater than the comparison students, although there was a significant difference between the groups on the civic measure at post-test. The study highlights the benefits of using a developmental measure of social competence to evaluate character development programmes that are based on similar assumptions
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