Crafting Character Education to “Count” for Self and Other. A Journey of Empowerment via Character Counts! For Four High School Students

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Gayle Mindes

Second Advisor

Marie Donovan

Third Advisor

James Wolfinger


Character education can be traced to the early 17th century with continued school or educational interest throughout the 1920s and declining school focus from the 1930-60s. A renewed interest in character education began in 1980-90 as a proposed way to prevent social problems among teens (ie: smoking, drinking, etc.). The main research question for this case study is how does the program Character Counts! empower students to make meaningful changes in a school's climate? The sub question is how do the student who use Character Counts! to solve issues and to take leadership roles in upholding perceived school values? The study used an exploration of student leadership, voice, and active participation in a democratic context to contextualize and frame the critical theory investigation and to interpret the results. Qualitative methodologies employed were semi-structured interviews, observations by the researcher, and focused reviews of student journals. the results seem to indicate that a Character Counts! program that recognizes and respects student voice and participation is effective and allows students to craft their own outreach activities that they perceive as meaningful to their school climate and peer group. These activities, such as plays and presentations, raise awareness to peer mistreatment and other salient school issues while simultaneously encouraging students to practice good citizenship on a daily basis. Implications of this main finding are drawn for the use in implementing program in high school today.


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