Developing social and emotional skills to promote character development in children is a complex process that takes time and practice. Conducting rigorous research on children’s character development is also a complex, time-consuming process.
The AIM Buddy Project was administered over many months and included many moving parts. It was administered at multiple locations, and used multiple measurement instruments to gather data. The results of the data will help researchers—and eventually the public—gain an understanding of how young children foster the knowledge and relationships that offer opportunities to understand differences, problem-solve solutions, and show kindness towards one another.
Integrating results from pre- and post-surveys, program booklets, observations, and individual interviews allows researchers to examine a concept from multiple angles through a process called triangulation. Through this process, researchers can check, or validate, the results of one measurement with the results of another measurement.
Here are a few examples of different types of measurement instruments the research team used throughout the AIM Buddy Project:
- Student Surveys: At all participating schools, researchers administered student surveys two times throughout the school year (pre- and post-program) and they will administer another survey in the fall. The surveys include questions that allow researchers to measure different aspects of character such as empathy, honesty, humility, forgiveness, generosity, and intellectual humility.
- Program booklets: Student and teacher booklets were also used throughout the study. These booklets were used to collect information before and after specific sessions of the program.
- Observations of students engaging in each interactive feature session were recorded and analyzed to help researchers further understand how children think about and discuss virtues of character.
Through the triangulation process, we can look at how each of these types of measurement compare to one another–to see if the results are similar or different across the assessments. For example, we can see how students respond to questions in the student booklets about what they liked or didn’t like about an interactive feature, and then we can watch the video conversations to see how they actually discussed the character virtue as they were working through the interactive comic or game.
Researchers will also analyze information gained from the teacher and parent surveys to see, for instance, how students’ self-reported character virtues align with those of the adults in their lives, and to see if this has changed as a function of the AIM Buddy Project program. Teacher and student interviews will further give researchers rich information about the program’s effectiveness and in general, what matters in character education.
Using multiple sources will help the researchers form a more complete picture of how students are learning the topics of the AIM Buddy Project materials.
Check back often for more information on the AIM Buddy Project.