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Living Values Research
Research
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Evidence of the impact of Values Education,
based on the research of the University of Newcastle, Australia
By Dr Neil Hawkes

When I was interviewed by national ABC in Australia, you will hear that I mentioned the excellent values research conducted at Newcastle University.  Often, I am asked if there is any research evidence to support the claims of Living Values Education. I am delighted to inform you that there is a growing body of research evidence that supports our positive claims.  In Australia, a number of studies have been conducted that show the positive effects of values education on school relationships, ambience, student wellbeing and improved academic diligence.  Living Values Education is acknowledged as being one of the inspirational forces behind these studies. (Lovat et al., 2009, p. 18)"

Professor Terry Lovat and his colleagues at Newcastle University, in Australia, have been monitoring and researching the effects of the Australian Government’s Values Education Initiative.    This year the University published its final report for the Australian Government, which looks at the evidence concerning the impact of introducing and developing Values Education in schools (Lovat, 2009). 

The research describes how values-based schools give increasing curriculum and teaching emphasis to Values Education.  As a consequence students become more academically diligent, the school assumes a calmer, more peaceful ambience, better student-teacher relationships are forged, student and teacher wellbeing improves and parents are more engaged with the school – all claims made by Living Values too!

Explicit teaching of values provides a common ethical language for talking about interpersonal behaviour. It also provides a mechanism for self-regulated behaviour. An important outcome is a more settled school which enhances quality teaching and enables teachers to raise expectations for student performance.

The effective implementation of Values Education was characterized by a number of common elements.

  • Values Education was regarded as a school’s “core business”, given equal status with
    other areas and embedded in policies and student welfare practices;
  • A ‘common language’ was developed among staff, students and families to describe values and the school’s expectations of student behaviour;
  • Staff endeavoured to ‘model’ and demonstrate the values in everyday interactions with
    students;
  • Values were scaffolded by supportive school-wide practices including teacher
    facilitation of student reflection and self-regulation of behaviour;
  • Values were taught in an explicit way in and out of the classroom and through other media (e.g. assemblies, sport and cooperative games, drama, songs etc.);
  • Values education was allied to ‘real world learning’ involving deep personal learning
    and imbued both planned and unplanned learning opportunities;
  • Values education was reinforced through positive visual media as well as consistent,
    verbal encouragement and acknowledgement;
  • Values education was allied to expressed high standards for overall participation,
    performance and achievement; and
  • Values education was optimally introduced under the guidance of the principal and/or a
    team of committed staff.
  • The research also revealed that Values Education had an impact in the following areas:

a. Student academic diligence was enhanced.  Students:

  • showed increased attentiveness in class and a greater capacity to work
    independently;
  • assumed more responsibility for their own learning;
  • asked questions and worked together more cooperatively;
  • took greater care and effort in their schoolwork;
  • took more pride in their efforts.

b. The improvements in School ambience included:

  • conflict among students decreased or was managed more constructively;
  • students demonstrated greater empathy, honesty and integrity;
  • more tolerant and cooperative student interactions;
  • safer and more harmonious classrooms and playgrounds;
  • greater kindness and tolerance among students;
  • students actively seeking to include peers without friends;
  • students taking greater responsibility with school equipment and routine tasks;
  • students treating the school buildings and grounds ‘with respect’.

c) The impact on student-teacher relationships was evidenced by:

  • “more trusting” relationships between staff and students;
  • the establishment of more ‘democratic’ classrooms;
  • teachers giving students more ‘power’ by allowing them choices in learning
  •  activities;
  • teachers being more conscious of scaffolding students to manage their own
  • behaviour or resolve conflict with others;
  • teachers seeking opportunities to acknowledge and reinforce appropriate
  •  behaviour;
  • teachers ‘listening’ to students and responding to their concerns and opinions;
  • students perceiving that teachers treat them fairly;
  • students behaving “more respectfully” towards teachers;
  • students showing greater politeness and courtesy to teachers.

d) The positive impacts on student and teacher wellbeing included:

  • students feeling a greater sense of connectedness and belonging;
  • students gaining a greater capacity for self-reflection and self-appraisal;
  • students developing a greater capacity for regulating their own and their peers’ behaviour;
  • teachers receiving collegial support and strong leadership;
  • teachers obtaining confidence and knowledge through opportunities for
  • professional development and through staff collaboration;
  • teachers re-examining their practices and role;
  • the fostering of relational trust among staff and between teachers and families.

Other research evidence: 

When Values Education was explicit, a common language was established among students, staff and families. This not only led to greater understanding of the targeted values but also provided a positive focus for redirecting children’s inappropriate behaviour. Teachers perceived that explicitly teaching values and developing empathy in students resulted in more responsible, focused and cooperative classrooms and equipped students to strive for better learning and social outcomes. When values are explicitly endorsed, acknowledged and ‘valued’ within a school culture, it becomes incumbent on schools to ensure that staff, as well as students are both benefactors and recipients in respectful and caring interactions. The common focus draws teachers together to create a collaborative and cohesive school community which supports teachers to do their job more effectively. This has important ramifications for students’ academic progress and wellbeing.

Many thanks to Newcastle University’s research program which has produced such excellent evidence on the impact of Values Education.  I invite you to share it with others so that we can further encourage the development of Living Values Education.

Dr Neil Hawkes
Oxford, UK. 2009

Reference

Lovat, T., Toomey, R., Dally, K. & Clement, N. (2009). Project to test and measure the impact of values education on student effects and school ambience. Final Report for the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) by The University of Newcastle. Canberra: DEEWR. Available at:
http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/Project_to_Test_and_Measure_the_Impact _of_Values_Education.pdf
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LVE Research Results
A Study with Street Children in Paraguay
In Paraguay there was an LVE implementation study with 685 high-risk youth in 2010. A 90% reduction in violence and other very positive results were measured after the young people completed LVE’s program for street children. Details from Miriam Ginzo: “In November 2010, we finished evaluating the effects of implementing the Living Values Activities for Street Children (LVASC) program with 685 high-risk young people between the ages of 10 and 15 in 14 facilities in eight different towns. The objectives were to: initiate a process of healing from childhood trauma; develop self-esteem; learn and practice human values; create emotional and social skills as well as protective social skills; increase cohesion within the group; and give correct information about HIV/AIDS, drugs, abuse and sexual trafficking.

The LVASC resources take up the themes of fears when adults argue, the effect of drugs, avoiding unsafe adults and drug dealers, the risk of rapid death due to diarrhea, poverty, cycles of violence and non-violence, the importance of education, rights of children, etc.

The results:
  • Yelled less: 90%
  • Would speak of their feelings: 80%
  • Controlled aggressiveness; Hit less: 90%
  • Communicated more with their peers: 70%
  • Did their school work: 85%
  • Improved personal hygiene: 90%
  • Wanted to return to school (those who were not in school): 80%
  • Would dialogue with an adult: 80%
  • Recovered confidence in safe adults: 100%

The results of applying the LVE program with the educators were: The educators felt more balanced, reported an increase in tolerance and patience with the students and greater inner peace, had better communication with their colleagues, greater comprehension of the process of healing with children at risk, more personal commitment to improve the self and more hope and belief in the process of recovery for this group of high-risk young people.

The experience was monitored by technicians with the At Risk Administration under the Ministry of Education and sponsored by the LVE Association in Paraguay and Dirección General de Educación Inclusiva Ministerio de Educación y Cultura del Paraguay. The technicians and the director said: ‘Finally we have found the tool we needed to reach these children.’”

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A Study with Secondary Students in Venezuela
In Venezuela, four high school students from Monsenor Chacon School, in La Azulita, Merida, collaborated on a study of the effectiveness of Living Values Education in high school in the State of Merida, Living Values: a Tool for Adolescent Development (Arias M, Julio; Gomez F, Daniela; Lobo M, Silvina; and Maggiolo R, Ana, under the technical direction of Lic. Maria Carolina D'Enjoy and Lic. Eduardo Gaviria, 2007). This study was a quasi-experimental design study of adolescent character development in two schools in Venezuela. Using a stratified random sample of 30 students (ages 15-18) from two schools in Venezuela enrolling 500 students in total, the investigators administered a pre/post role-playing situation which asked the students to act out a mini-drama. Scenes in the drama involved aggression, violence, frustration and other anti-social behavior. The treatment group was exposed to ten weeks of weekly, one-hour LVEP lessons. The control group did not have LVEP instruction. At the conclusion, students participated in a post-test role play, and in all cases with the LVE group, new behavior was demonstrated. A final survey was also administered to the LVE group, which asked them about their favorite values, what they learned from the course and responses to a series of statements such as "I feel I can contribute to a better world". The authors concluded that LVE had a positive effect on the development of conflict resolution skills and increased students' personal identification with values, as well as their ability to use those values in daily life."
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A Study with Primary Students in Lebanon

In Lebanon, Rula Kahil, examined the effect of LVEP on behavior and attitudes related to intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence in elementary school students in a private school in Lebanon. A sample of 76 second- and third-grade students at Beirut’s American Community School were randomly selected and assigned to groups. A pre-post experimental design was used. For a whole school year, students in the treatment group received Living Values Activities lessons on peace, respect and love in addition to the normal school curriculum. The control group continued with the curriculum without the additional value lessons. Both groups were pre- and post-tested using Harter’s Perceived Competence Scales, Teachers’ Rating Scale and the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory. An analysis of the data showed significant treatment effects. The treatment group’s post-test results found significant positive effects on students’ self perceptions in scholastic, cognitive and social domains when compared to the control group. The treatment group also showed significant improvements in the Teachers’ Rating Scale. Mrs. Kahil concluded that it is crucial for schools to implement values and social skills programmes in order to enhance students’ social, emotional and intellectual development.

The full study was published: El-Hassan, K., & Kahil, R. (2005). “The Effect of ‘Living Values: An Educational Program’ on Behaviors and Attitudes of Elementary Students in a Private School in Lebanon.”Early Childhood Education Journal 33 (2), 81–90.

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Evidence-based article on utilizing LVE with university students in Indonesia
The University has an important role in the process of character education. The character education should be integrated through the living values-based contextual learning model in order to be easier internalized and implemented. This study aimed at describing: (1) the living values-based contextual learning model conceptually in lecturing; (2) the implementation of the living values-based contextual learning model in lecturing and (3) the effect of the living values-based contextual learning model on students’ character improvement.

To view full article in PDF ...
The Living Values-Based Contextual Learning to Develop the Students' Character
by Kokom Komalasari, Department of Civic Education, Faculty of Social Studies Education, Indonesia University of Education, Setiabudhi Regency Wing IV D-36 Bandung, Indonesia.

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LVE Cited as a "Humanizing Influence" and for its Positive Effects on Students' Personal and Academic Life in Brazil
The following is an excerpt from an article by Paulo Sérgio Barros, Atmosfera de Valores: O Princípio do Programa Vivendo Valores na Educação. Translated here into English, the article cites a few of the effects of implementing LVEP in hundreds of organizations in Brazil  over the last 14 years. 

The educational institutions that have effectively inserted the LVE methodology into their classes have been surprised at the positive effect on the personal and academic life of students. There are many successful experiences in schools developed from the partnership with LVE recorded in surveys and reports [1], in reports submitted to the coordinators of the Programme [2], or in educator reports during our LVE events in various parts of the country.

After activities with values at the Center for International Education (CEICOC) in Sao Luis, students/boosted their solidarity, cooperation, respect and love and started volunteer activities in the school’s project of Action and Social Responsibility. They, organized exhibitions on values, produced  peace manifestos etcetera, and became involved with other activities such as values-class, round-tables on ethics, collective meditation and art events. Motivated by these activities and by a much more humane awareness of their children, many parents were attracted to the school and stressed the importance of an education based on values for the formation of children and youth.

The PH3 Educational Parnamirim Center in RN inserted into its pedagogical program for employees, teachers, students and the community in general the implementation of LVE activities, training courses and seminars. The constant and effective practice of values in the school environment, the subject of academic research (ALVES, 2005; HENRY & ALVES, 2008), has provided clear changes in the ethos of PH3. Deeper experiences and higher level sharing of values has enabled a dynamic school atmosphere that is more positive and involves everyone who participates in the school. In addition there has been an  an increase in concentration, interest, and consequently the students' academic performance and more involvement of parents, etc.

The Association of Boys and Girls of Olinda (AMO)is, among the institutions in Brazil that we observed, one of that best in its application of the methodology of LVEP. AMO (which only serves children who are victims of social exclusion) is a prime example of how to create and maintain an atmosphere of respect, caring and love in their daily life, through the involvement of students, faculty, staff and the community. TAMO establishes local partnerships, which involve children in social and cultural projects and in national and international competitions. Its social and educative work has gained recognition from the community, official educational organizations and international institutions like UNESCO, which recognized / gave an award to AMO for its students’ participation in the Draw me Peace contest. And at the World Peace Forum in Vancouver, Canada in 2006,an invitation (was received) for some students and a teacher to attend the event and promote their work in Canadian schools.

Also noteworthy are the examples of Maria José Medeiros and John Germano schools, both in Fortaleza. The latter is a good example of holistic education that met in LVE a partner to strengthen current projects, inspire others, and systematize the school’s educational policy on values that relied on:  teacher training, the implementation of LVE activities in the classroom, daily collective moments to strengthen the atmosphere, mediation of everyday conflicts between children, ethos meetings to keep the link alive between the teachers, and the school  and community,, and the various projects within the school and community. Among these projects are: a Values Fair, a human values bank, a loving school honesty bar and a child disarmament campaign. This group of experiments and the support of LVE have proven effective for the  development of values for students, and vital for maintaining the direction of the educational policy of the Institution, established in a region with high social exclusion and marked by great violence.

At the School Maria José Medeiros, a group of educators has been devoted to the implementation of LVE activities with some classes. Pereira (2006) and Barros (2008) reported the positive effect of activities on behavioral change for many students. They noted progress in students’ cognitive skills. They developed a better aesthetic sense in their assignments when they were able to express their ideas and feelings, their creativity in individual and collective activities their skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships, and interest in issues like human rights and sustainability associated with collective projects at school. The authors concluded that students care about their values and develop them when they have opportunities. Their way of  living, their  experiences, the individual transformations, their  work/products and the student evaluations at the end of academic year, led us to infer that students have developed many skills such as: deeper concentration, greater self-esteem, more harmonious living, an understanding and practice of greater peace, tolerance and respect, and knowing how to contribute to a better world

A researcher from the Department of Foundations of Education, Federal University of Ceará, Dr. Kelma Matos, in a recent publication (MATOS, BIRTH, JR NONATO, 2008) recorded some experiments and inferences about the LVE proposal in some schools in Fortaleza, citing  it as: "a new way to tune the school into a more welcoming and humanizing environment, where the aspect of emotion is the mediator in knowledge construction and the building of human relationships (BIRTH & Matos, 2008, p. 75), and as a way to recover the meaning of life," which is "the challenge for any education in values, and  the act of driving students to regain their confidence and hope and sense of sacredness of life" (Mendoca, 2008, p.199). Scholars of educational practices weave the web of "peace culture" in schools, and a significant number of the articles that make up the book, point out that LVEP is an effective program in the process of both individual and social transformation.

Finally, we mention another beautiful experience, the Extension Project of Peace Pilgrim, Federal University of Pará (an LVE partner since 2006), through which students of undergraduate courses participate in a plan of supervised practice, a process of continuing education in a culture of peace and act as facilitators, replicating the activities in elementary and middle schools (Living Values Education - Report on activities north and northeast - 2008, p.3). The training of interns is done at two levels: a philosophical level which subsidizes research and becomes part of their graduate studies, and on another level which is experiential in character in which students take the LVE training course and apply its methodology during their internship in schools.

Between 2006 and 2008, there were two LVE trainings for about 60 students who matriculated from two schools (Tiradentes College in Bethlehem, and St. Francis Xavier College in Abaetetuba-PA). This benefited nearly a thousand students, including lectures and workshops at other institutions.

The experiments reported here illustrate a little of what has happened in hundreds of institutions where LVE is, or has been implemented in its 14 years in Brazil. Presently in 80 countries, the program is a live and effective magic for those who have worked with it. It weaves a network of a "culture of peace"  for those who believe that sowing  these seeds in education is essential if we are to harvest the changes that will create a better world. I LVE has inspired schools and educators to continue to open doors and hearts of students with a humanizing education which focuses on an atmosphere of peace, cooperation, understanding, dialogue and sharing. It is an invitation to the macro-structure of the education system to continue revising the curricula for the training of our children and youth; it is not focused exclusively on the rational, the "analytical thinking", but is in balance with emotion, intuition, spirituality – with all dimensions of our limitless human capacity.”

The above excerpt from the article Atmosfera de Valores: O Princípio do Programa Vivendo Valores na Educação by Paulo Sérgio Barros was recently published in Cultura de Paz, Ética e Espiritualidade by Kelma Socorro de Matos & Raimundo Nonato Jr. by Editora a Universidade Federal do Ceará (Edições UFC), 2010. Página 209 a 221.www.editora.ufc.br  To see the cited references and the full article in Portugese, click here.

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LVE Internal Research
LVE Results in Thailand Show Improvement in Academics, Attendance and School Climate
For two years in Thailand, the schools winning the country’s award for the best school in the country, the Royal Reward, were schools implementing LVEP.  The school administrators of Saint Joseph Bang-na School, with 3,310 students, reported that in 22 months of implementing LVEP as a whole school, there was a 20% increase in student attendance, a 10% decrease in student tardiness, a 10% increase in teacher attendance, a 20% improvement in reading scores, a 15% improvement in language scores and a 15% improvement in math scores.  There was also considerable improvement on all measures of school climate.

Students from Pre-School through University Improve in Social Skills and Responsibility in Paraguay

In Paraguay, educators rated 3243 students from 4- to 22-years of age who were engaged in LVE.  Despite being from many different schools with a variance in adherence to the LVEP Model, the educators found that 86% of the students improved in the conflict resolution skills and the ability to concentrate, 87% improved in responsibility, 89% improved in respect shown to peers and honesty, 92% improved in their ability to relate socially in a positive way, 94% showed an improvement in motivation and more interest in school, 95% showed more respect for adults, and 100% had more self-confidence and cooperated more with others.

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