A Study of a Third Grade Character Education Curriculum Based on Feminist, Multicultural, and Critical Pedagogies

Open Access
Garcia, Matilde E.
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 14, 2005
Committee Members:
  • Miryam Espinosa Dulanto, Committee Chair
  • Murry R Nelson, Committee Member
  • Madhu Suri Prakash, Committee Member
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • Multicultural
  • Feminist Pedagogies
  • Curriculum
  • Character Education
  • Critical Pedagogies
ABSTRACT In this study, I have narrated my experience of teaching character education as a separate course to the 18 students in my third-grade classroom as mandated by my school district in Pennsylvania. The district character education task force provided a basic character education curriculum, which was mainly comprised of teaching 16 universal values to the children, a few model character education lessons, and some recommended library books. However, I chose to enhance and develop the curriculum through my own teacher research, especially by using the theories of feminist, critical, and multicultural pedagogies as a framework. The main research question for my study asked how third-grade students learn the values of caring and justice after discussing issues of social justice in reference to gender, culture, and social class, and when generating certain kinds of artifacts. This question generated 11 sub-questions. My main approach was to discover the values that my third-grade children already knew when they came to school and to relate them to our classroom activities. In this qualitative study, the main method I used to gather data on my teaching of character education was to keep a reflective journal in which I narrated my experiences of using multicultural materials and creating artifacts with the children in the classroom to explore values. I analyzed this data to find the recurrent themes or categories related to the values that my students understood and used. This study helped me reflect on my own teaching and to discover the values of my students and how they had learned them, which I found was mainly through their families and community, as well as at school. I observed that the children in my classroom also developed a sense of caring and justice toward each other. There was some evidence that the course in character education that I had taught my students in third grade may have improved their behavior when they advanced to fourth grade, which was one of the goals of the district in mandating character education, along with a student code of conduct. However, further research could study the direct effects of character education on children’s behaviors in the classroom.