Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Educational Psychology

Date of Defense

8-4-2016

Graduate Advisor

Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Committee

Prof. Alexei V. Demchenko, Ph.D.

Ding, Cody

Lickona, Thomas

Abstract

Can a valid, reliable measure of multi-dimensional adolescent character be developed? Goals were: 1) To construct a grid of trait lists by experts in Positive Psychology (PP), Character Education (CE), and Positive Youth Development (PYD) to create the Character Taxonomy as a conceptual basis; 2) to construct the Character Virtues Index (CVI) as a brief measure of the taxonomy’s traits; and 3) to validate CVI. The Character Taxonomy produced 18 traits that were hypothesized to cover the various dimensions of character. Two CVI field tests produced a reliable measure with 11 factors for a validation study. The validation study of the 55 CVI items showed reliability at .944 and test/retest correlation at .720. Exploratory factor analysis produced 11 factors explaining 58.5% of variance. Coefficient alphas for ten of the eleven were >.7. The measure by which CVI was compared for validation was a collection of 52 items from the 96-item VIA Youth Survey (VIA-YS; Park & Peterson, 2006b). Correlation was .851 and paired sample correlations were significant at .405-.806. The VIA-YS items had not been measured for reliability and validity. A post-hoc EFA showed .920 reliability, produced 11 factors (ten that were identical to CVI factors), and had acceptable structural coefficients. The questions arose: Can CVI contain more than 11 factors to create a comprehensive measure of character? Could items intending to measure traits defined by differing fields (PP, CE, and PYD) support the same factor? A third post-hoc EFA combined all CVI and VIA-YS items producing 18 interpretable factors covering 63.4% of variance, 16 with >.7 coefficient alphas. The research question is answered affirmatively and its three goals accomplished. CVI may be used by schools and others to measure multidimensional student character. Limitations involve the need for future studies (1) to improve factoring and discriminant, convergent, and predictive validity, (2) to conduct confirmatory factor analysis for improved conceptualization, and (3) to indicate longitudinal outcomes determining CVI’s ability to measure character growth. The Character Taxonomy and CVI could fuel character research, be a tool to evaluate individual student character strength and growth, and encourage CE program development and evaluation.

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