Researching and promoting character education in Central and South American secondary schools
This project aims to gain a greater understanding of how the formation of positive character traits, particularly social and moral virtues, may be enacted and promoted in the context of Central and South American secondary schools. The project has a research-focused Big Question and an application-focused Big Question. The first Big Question addresses current secondary education practice and policy, implicitly or explicitly relevant to character education in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. Informed by the insights gained from this research, the second Big Question aims at promoting character education across Latin America.
The research-focused Big Question will be addressed by reviewing education policy; consulting policy makers in the region; and conducting six case studies of secondary schools in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia (two in each country). Case study methodology is appropriate because it allows exploratory investigation of how character education may be embedded and practiced – implicitly or explicitly – in the various activities of schools in specific social, economic and cultural contexts. Data will be generated and collected using a questionnaire survey, lesson observations, focus groups and semi-structured interviews. It is anticipated that a total of approximately 10,000 questionnaires will be completed; 150 lessons will be observed; and 410 students, 210 teachers and 150 parents will be interviewed. Analysis of these combined sources of data will facilitate in-depth understanding of how character virtues are perceived and enacted in secondary schools.
The application-focused aim will promote awareness and understanding of character education across Central and South America – not just those countries where the case study research will take place. This aim will be achieved by means of an outreach program informed in part by the findings of the research and also by existing research and best practice in other countries. The target audience of this project includes secondary school students, teachers, teacher educators, educational researchers, policy makers, and parents.