All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lynn Kirkland

Advisory Committee Members

Grace Jepkemboi

Deborah Strevy

Jennifer Summerlin

Michele Jean Sims

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Throughout history, education has had two primary goals: to help young people gain knowledge and develop character (Lickona, 1991). The first goal has been widely researched; however, there is considerably less research on the experiences of character development and children’s behavior (Emilson, 2007). The lack of character education implementation has fostered a moral decline in youth, which is evidenced by increased rates of violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and other socially unacceptable behavior (Britzman, 2005). The purpose of this study was to explore teacher perceptions of character education, children’s literature, and self-regulation in one urban school district in central Alabama, as described by early childhood educators. The goal of this qualitative research study within an urban school system, which will be referred to as the Urban City Schools (UCS) district, was to gather data about the experiences of character education and self-regulation in early childhood through the implementation of children’s literature. Data collection included the following: (1) one, five-question paper/pencil demographic/informational questionnaire regarding teacher involvement with character education and usage of children’s literature to help young children develop character and self-regulation; (2) interviews exploring teacher perspectives of children’s self-regulation through character education-based children’s literature; and (3) documents/artifacts to explore teacher perceptions of student experiences with character education. Documents/artifacts included lesson plans, behavior logs, and anecdotal notes from teachers regarding student experiences of character education and self-regulation in early childhood through the implementation of children’s literature. Three themes were identified from the analyzed data. Themes included teacher perceptions of self-regulation, teacher lack of choice/decision making, and teacher use of multiple instructional strategies. Overall, results indicated that all of the participants promoted character education and self-regulation through the teaching of children’s literature based on district mandates. The findings of this study align with previous research, demonstrating that school-based character education fosters a foundation for social and ethical decisions of social morality, pro-social behavior, and positive thinking, which lasts throughout an individual’s life (Beets et al., 2001; Cheng & Lee, 2009; Ruby & Doolittle, 2010).

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