This study addresses the need for improvement in the ethics of middle school students through education and parent-child communication. The investigator aimed to determine (1) whether a 7th grade ethics course improves student-parent communication, and (2) whether a second version of the course that includes parent involvement in homework assignments is more effective than the school-based course alone in improving student-parent communication based on quantitative and qualitative data. Drawing on theoretical constructs from moral development, charismatic adults, adolescent neurobiology, and character development, the dissertation employed an explanatory, mixed methods design. Two groups (classes) to which students were randomly assigned received ethics instruction: Class A received school-based instruction plus regular homework, Class B school-based instruction plus parent involvement in home-based assignments. Students from Class A and Class B who consented to participate in the communication assessment showed no statistically significant improvement on the major scales of the Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale when compared to a control group (Class C, which received its normal Bible class instruction but no ethics instruction), based on pre- and posttesting (aim 1 above). However, all three groups showed statistically significant improvement (2.3%-4.0%) on a subscale measuring student appraisal of open communication with their fathers; no other sub-scale showed statistically significant results. In qualitative, follow-up interviews with Class B students (parent participation, aim 2 above), 79% of students noted positive change in the quality of the communication with their parents, and 46% of parents noted qualitative improvement in their communication with their son or daughter. Further studies of the effectiveness of ethics curricula for improving adolescent-parent communications and of the application of metrics of effective interpersonal communication in the family system may prove helpful for schools, families, and communities.
|School:||Union Institute and University|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ethics, Middle School education, Developmental psychology|
|Keywords:||Brain development, Curriculum development, Ethics education, Moral development, Parent involvement, Parent-adolescent communication|
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