The Lessons in Character (LIC) program is an in-school curriculum of supplementary English language arts lessons intended to improve elementary school students’ academic achievement and social competence, and reduce problem behaviors. An experimental study found no statistically significant impacts on grade 4 and 5 students’ measures of academic achievement, social competence, or problem behaviors in the spring of the second year of program implementation. There also were no statistically significant impacts found for school environment measures.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: elementary school children
LIC is an in-school character education program, focusing on English language arts. It is intended to improve elementary school students’ academic achievement and social competence, while reducing problem behaviors. LIC also intends to increase student feelings of belonging and school expectations. The LIC curriculum of twenty-five 20-minute lessons is delivered in school and is designed to be easy to implement, with minimal teacher training. LIC uses multicultural literature (lap books), audiocassettes, enrichment activities, and questioning. The first lesson introduces the Stop, Think, Act, Review (STAR) decision making model that is used throughout the year as a classroom management tool and reinforcement of the program lessons. LIC emphasizes civility, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, loyalty, and self-control. LIC materials, including teacher manuals, are available from Young Peoples Press at a cost of $245.00 per classroom.
EVALUATION OF PROGRAM
Evaluated Population: Fifty California public elementary schools, including 4,683 students,agreed to implement LIC and to participate in the randomized study. Approximately 59 percent of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 49 percent were Hispanic, 32 percent Non-Hispanic White, and 31 percent were English language learner students. There were no statistically significant differences in the baseline characteristics of teachers or students in the intervention and control schools.
Approach: Half of the schools were randomly assigned to the LIC intervention group and the other half to the control group. Teachers received a one day training course in the first year prior to implementation and were expected to incorporate between 19 and 25 20-minute supplementary lessons into their classrooms each year for two academic years. Each teacher received a teacher management guide that provided concise lesson plans, along with discussion questions and classroom activities. Teachers also each received two hours of coaching support for delivering the material in the fall semester of the first year. No coaching or professional development was provided in year two. Outcomes were assessed using standardized achievement tests, teacher reports on the Social Skills Rating System, surveys of grade 4 and 5 students, and teacher surveys. All teachers were surveyed before schools were assigned to treatment and control groups. Data were collected in the spring of both years 1 and 2, although only data from the end of year 2 were used to estimate impacts. Teacher turnover varied, with 70 percent of teachers in LIC schools providing year two data, compared with 90 percent in the control schools. Multilevel regression models were used to estimate the impacts of the LIC program and to account for clustering by school and classroom.
Results: This study found that there were no statistically significant impacts on grade 4 and 5 students’ measures of academic achievement, social competence, or problem behaviors after the second year of program implementation. There were also no statistically significant impacts on school environment measures.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Web Site: http://www.youngpeoplespress.com/products/Lessons-in-Character-Complete-Packages.html
Hanson, T., Dietsch, B., Zheng, H. (2012). Lessons in Character Impact Evaluation – Final Report. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, NCEE 2012-4004.
KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Elementary, Males and Females (Co-ed), School-Based, Academic Achievement/Grades, Helping Behavior/Social Responsibility, Social Skills/Life Skills, Aggression
Program information last updated on 7/14/2014.