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My character: enhancing future mindedness in young people: a feasibility study

Arthur, J and Harrison, T and Kristjánsson, K and Davidson, I and Hayes, D and Higgins, J (2014) My character: enhancing future mindedness in young people: a feasibility study. Project Report. Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham.

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Identification Number/DOI: 987-0-7044-2842-3


The aim of the My Character project was to develop a better understanding of how interventions designed to develop character might enhance moral formation and futuremindedness in young people. Futuremindedness can be defined as an individual’s capacity to set goals and make plans to achieve them. Establishing goals requires considerable moral reflection, and the achievement of worthwhile aims requires character traits such as courage and the capacity to delay gratification.

The research team developed two new educational interventions – a website and a hard-copy journal – with the specific aim of developing future-mindedness. After development, the website and journal were piloted over a one-year period by over 1,000 11–14 year olds in six schools across England. Various research methods, including group interviews and case studies, were implemented to assess impact. In addition, a pilot RCT was conducted to assess the feasibility of using experimental methods to measure character.

The main findings from the research are that:
- Students benefit from opportunities in school to think about future-mindedness; this can be successfully taught through character education.
- Harnessing new technology, such as the Internet, offers exciting opportunities for character education.
- It is beneficial to investigate the impact of new character education resources in order to bring greater clarity about ‘what works’. The most useful approach is a mixed methods one that allows for triangulation of evidence.
- It is possible to run RCTs and other experimental research in schools to assess developmental projects of this kind, but applying the method in schools and creating suitable outcome measures present challenges for researchers.
- A positive indicator of the success is that five out of the six pilot schools have embedded My Character into their curriculum. In addition, many new schools, both in Britain and internationally, have started to use the website and / or journal.

This report describes the research, analyses the impact of My Character and concludes with recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and researchers embarking on similar projects. These recommendations include:

i) advocating that schools create space in the curriculum to teach future-mindedness through character education;
ii) enhancing traditional character education teaching methods with opportunities brought by Internet technologies;
iii) evaluating character education interventions using triangulated evidence drawn from a mixture of research methods.

Type of Work:Monograph (Project Report)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Keywords:Character Education Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues My Character Futuremindedness
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Related URLs:
Copyright Status:© University of Birmingham 2014
Copyright Holders:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1948

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  • My character: enhancing future mindedness in young people: a feasibility study. (deposited 30 Jan 2015 15:33) [Currently Displayed]

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