Problem Statement:Societies want to ensure that their children receive an education that includes an emphasis on good character. Therefore, character education classes in schools are an effective means of achieving this goal. Character education curricula in societies that are experiencing global changes strive for their students to gain universal values. However, although character elements are similar, character education applications and individual attitudes and behaviors can vary from country to country. This situation is due to the fact that societies have different socio-cultural, economic and religious beliefs, which effect character education curricula regarding societal behaviors.
Purpose of Study: The purpose of this research is to determine and compare the perception of certain character values among middle school students who attend American and Turkish schools. When reviewing these countries’ character education curricula, it seems that they have many similar traits. However, differences in their societal backgrounds reveal student’s perspectives about certain character values. Recognizing similarities and differences that exist between American and Turkish middle school students’ values about good character, this study will try to explain the reasons for such differences.
Method: In this study, a quantitative method was used as the research design. The research sample consisted of 286 American and 278 Turkish students. Survey results were evaluated with the SPSS statistical program.
Findings and Results:Descriptive statistics for each character value shows that each country’s students demonstrated their highest intensity on issues of substance abuse. However, the lowest intensity focused on environmentalism with the American students and multiculturalism with the Turkish students. Empathy and tolerance were the highest in terms of mean difference between the two countries’ students. In contrast, American and Turkish students have the lowest mean difference in terms of responsibility and multiculturalism.
Conclusions and Recommendations:Student responses indicated that each country’s students have different perspectives on certain core values. One of the most highly contrasted characteristics of America and Turkey is diversity and multiculturalism. This situation offers both more opportunities and more challenges to Americans. However, the survey results show that American students can be adversely affected in terms of tolerance and empathy. Communal living, parental and peer effects on the students’ responsibility and substance dependency are also apparent in their effects on the students. Educators recognize that societal differences can impact a student’s ability to gain good character values.
Keywords:Character education, good character, different values, comparative education.