WWC review of this study

Short-term effects of a literature-based character education program among fourth grade students: Report to the Young People's Press, Inc.

Dietsch, B., & Bayha, J. L. (2005). Los Alamitos, CA: WestEd.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    372
     Students
    , grade
    4
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: September 2006

Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Mathematics grades

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
140 students

2.95

2.56

Yes

 
 
18
More Outcomes

Attendance (absences)

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
140 students

1.46

2.59

Yes

 
 
18

Reading grades

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
140 students

2.95

2.66

No

 
 
12
Behavior outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Citizenship grades

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
140 students

0.12

0.06

No

--
Knowledge, attitudes, & values outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Support and care by teachers and staff

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
372 students

4.11

3.7

Yes

 
 
12
More Outcomes

Shaping the environment

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
372 students

3.04

2.7

Yes

 
 
9

Friendship and belonging

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
372 students

3.22

2.97

No

--

Student respect

Lessons in Character vs. business as usual

Posttest

Grade 4;
372 students

3.3

3.11

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 75% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Rural
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    Florida, Louisiana

Setting

All participating schools were located in rural, poor, and ethnically diverse communities in Louisiana and Florida.

Study sample

More than 400 fourth-grade students attending elementary schools in Louisiana and Florida. Eight schools whose principals expressed an interest in implementing the program were selected at random to participate. In each of the eight schools two fourth-grade teachers were randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. Of the students in the study, 75% participated in the National School Lunch Program and about 50% met state reading and mathematics standards. The authors noted that all grade levels in the schools fell below state expectations in core academic areas.

Intervention Group

Teachers were encouraged to complete at least one program lesson per week for 15 weeks. The authors note that comprehensive character education would involve administrators, parents, and others on campus; this study used only the materials for classrooms. School officials were reluctant to have researchers enter the classroom, so fidelity and duration of student exposure to the intervention were not measured.

Comparison Group

Teachers in the comparison group were asked to teach as they normally would. They did not institute any new character education instruction during the study. After the posttests for the study, the teachers in the comparison group received copies of the classroom materials used in the program.

Outcome descriptions

Outcome measures are based on student surveys and archival data (for attendance, citizenship, grades). The outcomes include mathematics, reading, and citizenship grades from report cards; attendance rates; positive and negative student behavior reflecting core values; and student attitudes toward core values. (See Appendices A2.1, A2.2, and A2.3.)

Support for implementation

The authors characterized teacher training as “minimal.” Teachers who implemented the intervention received lesson materials and training. Each classroom assigned to the intervention group received two visits from a trainer, who observed the students and offered assistance to the teacher.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Dietsch, B., Bayha, J. L., & Zheng, H. (2005, April). Short-term effects of a character education program among fourth grade students. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada.

 

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