Child Indicators Research

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 317–334 | Cite as

The Role of a Good Character in 12-Year-Old School Children: Do Character Strengths Matter in the Classroom?

Article

Abstract

The present study investigated the role of the good character at school, specifically, its associations with satisfaction with school experiences, academic self-efficacy, positive classroom behavior, and objective school success (i.e., school grades). A sample of 247 students (mean age = 12 years) completed the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth, and measures on school-related satisfaction and academic self-efficacy. Teacher-ratings on positive classroom behavior, and grades from students’ school reports were also collected. Love of learning, zest, gratitude, perseverance, and curiosity were positively associated with school-related satisfaction. Hope, love of learning, perseverance, prudence, and others were positively associated with academic self-efficacy. Character strengths of the mind (e.g., self-regulation, perseverance, love of learning) were predictive for school success. The good character explained about one fourth of the variance in positive classroom behavior, with the specific strengths of perseverance, love of learning, and prudence showing the most substantial positive correlations. A model that postulated the predictive power of classroom-relevant character strengths on school success, mediated through positive classroom behavior, was supported. Character strengths (e.g., perspective, gratitude, hope, self-regulation, teamwork) distinguished between students who demonstrated improved vs. decreased grades during the school year. This study shows that the good character clearly matters in different contexts at school, and it seems to be relevant for subjective (e.g., satisfaction) as well as objective (e.g., grades) outcomes, and for positive behavior in classrooms.

Keywords

Character strengths Positive classroom behavior School success Satisfaction with school experiences Academic self-efficacy Children 

References

  1. Arbuckle, J. L. (2010). IBM SPSS amos 19 user’s guide. Chicago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  3. De Bruyn, E. H., Dekovic, M., & Meijnen, G. W. (2003). Parenting, goal orientations, classroom behavior, and school success in early adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1016/S0193-3973(03)00074-1.
  4. De Raad, B., & Schouwenburg, H. C. (1996). Personality in learning and education: a review. European Journal of Personality. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0984(199612)10:5<303::AID-PER262>3.3.CO;2-U.
  5. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact on enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: a meta-analysis of school based universal interventions. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x.
  6. Gillham, J., Adams–Deutsch, Z., Werner, J., Reivich, K., Coulter–Heindl, V., Linkins, M., et al. (2011). Character strengths predict subjective well–being during adolescence. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2010.536773.
  7. Hoge, R. D., & Luce, S. (1979). Predicting academic achievement from classroom behavior. Review of Educational Research. doi: 10.2307/1170141.
  8. Horn, J. L. (1965). A rationale and test for the number of factors in factor analysis. Psychometrika. doi: 10.1007/BF02289447.
  9. Huebner, E. S. (1991). Initial development of the Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale. School Psychology International. doi: 10.1177/0143034391123010.
  10. Huebner, E. S., & Hills, K. J. (2011). Does the positive psychology movement have legs for children in schools? The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2010.536778.
  11. Huebner, E. S., Antaramian, S. P., Hills, K. J., Lewis, A. D., & Saha, R. (2011). Stability and predictive validity of the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale. Child Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s12187-010-9082-2.
  12. Jerusalem, M., & Satow, L. (1999). Schulbezogene Selbstwirksamkeitserwartung [School-related self-efficacy]. In R. Schwarzer & M. Jerusalem (Eds.), Skalen zur Erfassung von Lehrer- und Schuelermerkmalen (pp. 15–16). Berlin: Free University.Google Scholar
  13. Laidra, K., Pullmann, H., & Allik, J. (2007). Personality and intelligence as predictors of academic achievement: a cross-sectional study from elementary to secondary school. Personality and Individual Differences. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2006.08.001.
  14. Larson, R. W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.170.
  15. Leffert, N., Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Sharma, A. R., Drake, D. R., & Blyth, D. A. (1998). Developmental assets: measuring and prediction of risk behaviors among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science. doi: 10.1207/s1532480xads0204_4.
  16. Lounsbury, J. W., Fisher, L. A., Levy, J. J., & Welsh, D. P. (2009). An investigation of character strengths in relation to the academic success of college students. Individual Differences Research. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2009.03.001.
  17. Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.53.2.205.
  18. Park, N. (2004). Character strengths and positive youth development. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. doi: 10.1177/0002716203260079.
  19. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: the development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2006.04.011.
  20. Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2006). Character strengths in organizations. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 27, 1149–1154.Google Scholar
  22. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beermann, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi: 10.1080/17439760701228938.
  24. Poffenberger, A. T., & Carpenter, F. L. (1924). Character traits in school success. Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/h0071997.
  25. Ruch, W., Proyer, R. T., Harzer, C., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2010). Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS): adaptation and validation of the German version and the development of a peer-rating form. Journal of Individual Differences. doi: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000022.
  26. Ruch, W., Weber, M., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2011). Adaptation and validation of the German Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (German VIA-Youth). Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  27. Scales, P. C., Benson, P. L., Leffert, N., & Blyth, D. A. (2000). Contribution of developmental assets to the prediction of thriving among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0401_3.
  28. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: an introduction. American Psychologist. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5.
  29. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1023/A:1021326822957.
  30. Smith, G. M. (1967). Usefulness of peer ratings of personality in educational research. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 27, 967–984.Google Scholar
  31. Van Eeden, C., Wissing, M. P., Dreyer, J., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2008). Validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth) among South African learners. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 18, 145–156.Google Scholar
  32. Weber, M. (2009). Classroom Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS). Unpublished test. Zurich, Switzerland: University of Zurich.Google Scholar
  33. Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2011). [The relationship between character strengths and domain-specific satisfaction]. Unpublished raw data.Google Scholar
  34. Wentzel, K. R. (1993). Does being good make the grade? Social behavior and academic competence in middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.85.2.357.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Section on Personality and Assessment, Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations