Capstone/Dissertation Title

Honoring the past to promote character education and increase emotional intelligence

Term

2006

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Abstract

My research study resulted from my observation of the lack of empathy shown by middle school students while reading and viewing The Diary of Anne Frank. I wanted to encourage character building and enhance my students' emotional intelligence through the vehicle of writing a tribute to their oldest living relative. I would model writing by creating a tribute to my mother. By connecting with another person, byÊinterviewing, by investigating and listening to his or her story, character education and emotional intelligence would meld to help the student grow and mature into the responsible, caring adult the world needs him or her to be. My review of literature provides evidence that emotional intelligence is a necessary ingredient to living a healthy, productive life. My research emphasized the connection between emotional intelligence and character traits such as empathy, hope, getting along with others, managing emotions in relationship, and resiliency. Helping students discover these qualities in themselves and others often leads to positive self-esteem and self worth. Additionally, my research established the significance of the intergenerational tribute project as a vehicle for students to grow academically and emotionally. The purpose of my study was to examine the ways in which an intergenerational project would promote character education and increase emotional intelligence. My study consisted of 19 seventh graders interviewing a chosen person and writing a tribute to that person. The students used the I-Search format to formulate questions to conduct their interviews. Students took Daniel Goleman's pre and post E.Q. test. Writing field notes, I documented student comments throughout the study. Students wrote reflective journals to process their feelings and findings. Culminating activities were the use of a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the character traits found in their research. Using a focus group discussion, we processed what we learned about character from the intergenerational project. The results indicated that students did learn important character traits to lead healthier lives. By interviewing an older relative or friend as an intergenerational activity, the students made a personal connection with someone and learned valuable life lesson which would enhance their emotional intelligence. The reflective journals and classroom discussions showed an increased understanding of empathy, self-respect, the importance of a positive attitude and feelings of self-worth. Overall, the members of our classroom have become more socially and emotionally connected to an older person and have also gained a better understanding of themselves.

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