Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Mary E Haas


This qualitative phenomenological study examined selected middle school teachers' perceptions of character education in one rural county in northwestern West Virginia. It investigated how they think about and implement character education, what they consider to be obstacles that interfere with the teaching of character education, as well as factors that may foster delivery. Research questions include: (1) What are selected middle school public school teachers' perceptions of character education in terms of how do teachers define character education? How important is character education? (2) How do selected middle school teachers implement character education? (3) What fosters and inhibits the implementation of character education?;Study design consisted of 12 semi-structured teacher interviews. Six of the teachers were randomly chosen from the school's Character Development Team with the remaining six randomly chosen from the balance of the instructional staff. Classroom lesson observations and document analysis of lesson plans and instructional materials were also employed. Observations and document analysis sought to identify Kagan's (2002) five approaches (curricular, extracurricular, spotlight, contextual, and structural) to integrating character education.;Emerging results of data analysis revealed that teachers appeared to highly value character education, yet they struggled to articulate a verbal definition of it despite the school's emphasis on the Character Counts! Program with its defined six traits of respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, and citizenship. They feel personally responsible for delivering it. They overwhelming cited teacher modeling as the means by which they implement it. Teachers maintain that they have good students and have always taught character education. The school was rich in Kagan's contextual as well as extracurricular approaches. Kagan's curriculum, structural, and spotlight approaches were nearly non-existent, but teachers claimed to use the spotlight approach, which utilizes teachable moments that naturally occur within the classroom. Teachers cited their own backgrounds consisting of parents, religion, and the teachable moment, respectively, as elements that foster delivery of character education. Poor student value systems consisting of poor parenting, lack of parenting, and societal influences, respectively, such as television, music, and electronic games emerged as the primary inhibiting factor to delivering character education.