Evaluation Information

Types of Evaluation

Who Can Do the Evaluation

Evaluation Result Research and Interpretation

How It's Done

Reasons for Evaluation

What Can You Evaluate/Taxonomy of Character Education Types

Research Methods

Steps in Evaluation

Needs Assessment Process (ISIS)

Needs Assessment Rubric (ISIS)

The Character Education Partnership (CEP) Evaluation and Assessment


Glossary of Terms

Program evaluation is a critical component of all character education implementation efforts. Without evaluating the impact a program, how do you really know whether or not the program is meeting its goals. It is critical in the program planning and implementation process as evaluation provides an avenue with which key questions can be answered. Among these questions are:

  • How do we know if our character education program is working?
  • How is our character education program impacting our students or other populations it is intending to address? In what ways?
  • Should we make any changes to our implementation design? Which changes are most important? Why?
  • Has our program had any other results or consequences that we did not predict? Do we need to address any of other consequences? How will we do that?

Types of Evaluation: Back to Top

  • Needs Assessment Evaluation identifies the needs and wants of program participants and provides evidence supporting program objectives. It uses surveys, interviews, focus groups, school records, and observations to gather feedback from the school community about requests for varying program components.
  • Process Evaluation evaluates to what degree the program is being implemented as intended. It uses surveys,interviews, focus groups, school records, and observations to gather feedback from the school community about requests for varying program components.
  • Outcome Evaluation measures the short term and long term effects of the intervention or program participants and school climate. It uses surveys,interviews, focus groups, school records, and observations to gather feedback from the school community about requests for varying program components.
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Who Can Do the Evaluation:

  • Teachers, educators
  • Program evaluator, consultants
  • Graduate students

Evaluation Research and Interpretation:

  • Pre-test/Post Test Comparison Test Design: students in a character education initiative are compared before and after the intervention on a set of character-related outcome variables. These students' scores will then be compared with a group of similar (control) students pre-test and post-test scores on the same variables
  • Time Series Design: repeated measurements are made on the outcome variables for the program students. For example semester by semester count of targeted behaviors would be noted for a period before the onset of the program and after the implementation of the program. It is important to do more than one or two measurements before and after implementing the initiative.  
  • Causal-Comparative Design: in case that the initiative has already begun and pre-implementation data is not available, this model helps to explore the differences that may result from participating or not participating in the character education initiative. In this type of research, information about some outcome variables such as rates of juvenile crime, drug usage, teen pregnancy, voluntary participation in community service, etc., are used to assign students to groups. That is, the researchers assemble two groups, those that have demonstrated the desired( or undesired) outcome behavior and those that have not. The researcher matches the students in the character-related outcome group as closely as possible on relevant background characteristics with students that have not demonstrated the outcome behavior. For example, in a school district where only some schools have implemented a character education initiative, one would hope to find that a significantly higher percentage of students from the character education school would be represented in the voluntary community service groups in comparison to the non-community service group  
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How It's Done:
  • personal observations
  • review information that has already been gathered (ex: before and after comparisons of attendance or suspensions)
  • interview teachers, parents, or students
  • questionnaires and surveys (students, teachers, parents, and other relevant stakeholders)

Reasons for Evaluation:

  • test the effectiveness of the program
  • improve the implementation and effectiveness of programs
  • manage available resources
  • document program accomplishments
  • justify current program funding
  • satisfy ethical responsibility to clients to demonstrate positive and negative effects of program participation
  • document program development and activities to help ensure successful replication
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What Can You Evaluate - Taxonomy of Character Education Types:

  • Moral Reasoning/Cognitive Development: discussion of moral dilemmas facilitates student development of moral reasoning capacities.
  • Moral Education/Virtue: academic content (literature, history) used to teach about moral traditions in order to facilitate moral habits and internal moral qualities (virtues).
  • Life Skills Education: Practical skills (communication) and positive social attitudes (self-esteem) stressed.
  • Service Learning: "Hands-on" experiences of community service integrated into the curriculum.
  • Citizenship Training/Civics Education: American civic values taught as a preparation for future citizenship.
  • Caring Community: Caring relationships fostered in the classroom and school.
  • Health Education/Drug, Pregnancy and Violence Prevention: Program oriented approach used to prevent unhealthy/anti-social behaviors.
  • Conflict Resolution/Peer Mediation: Students trained to mediate peer conflicts as means of developing constructive conflict resolution skills.
  • Ethics/Moral Philosophy: Ethics or moral philosophy explicitly taught
  • Religious Education: Character education taught in the context of a faith tradition, justifying morality from a transcendent source
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Research Methods:

* Survey

o Questionnaires

Closed ended questions

Open ended questions

o Sampling

* Interview

o Structured

o Semi-structured

o Unstructured

* Focus Group

* Rubric

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Steps in Evaluation:
  • Step 1: Designate an evaluation committee
  • Step 2: Define program and evaluation goals
  • Step 3: Choose data collection methods
  • Step 4: Chart evaluation procedures
  • Step 5: Collect data
  • Step 6: Analyze data
  • Step 7: Report evaluation findings
  • Step 8: Apply evaluation findings
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The Character Education Partnership (CEP) has three very helpful publications on assessment and evaluation available as downloads on their website. Here are direct links to those files.

A Primer for Evaluating A Character Education Initiative
The Primer is intended primarily for those with limited expertise in program evaluation; that is, for practitioners who are committed to character education and would now like to find out if their efforts are effective. The Primer will help you understand the nature of the evaluation, the range of alternatives that are available to you, and the critical decisions that are necessary for an evaluation.

Character Education Quality Standards
This publication outlines key components of effective character education and allows schools and districts to evaluate their efforts in relation to these criteria. This instrument provides a means for educators, administrators, and community members to reflect on current practices, identify short and long-term objectives, and develop or improve a strategic plan.

If you really want to dig into what's available in the way of assessment instruments, visit CEP's Assessment Instrument Index page. And while you're at it, you may as well explore their whole website. It has a lot of good stuff in it.

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