Promoting students' social and moral development in an elementary school: A case study

Amy Ronai Kuperblum, Fordham University


At present, despite the many criticisms waged against former attempts to promote students' social and moral development within schools, there remains the conviction that an education for conscience and character ought to be part of children's formal education. In response, attention to the importance of programs within schools fostering students' abilities to think critically and creatively has been suggested. One such program, the Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program created by Elias and Clabby in 1979, stresses the importance of decision making and other cognitive strategies to help children learn to control behavior by redirecting emotions. Through a developmentally appropriate curriculum, lessons and activities highlight a sequential skill-building approach to teach students to respond constructively to challenging and stressful situations in and out of school. This study was conducted in an elementary school, with a diverse population, located in a mid-size, suburban school district in the Northeast. Twelve students, eight teachers, nine parents, and the principal were interviewed over an 8-month period. The issues faced by the teachers, parents, and students, and the challenges faced by the principal, who is involved in the structural and human elements of the organization, were considered. While this study was a qualitative one and, as such, may not lend itself to generalization, findings identifying the positive effects of instruction in cognitive strategies and skills for solving problems and managing conflict in prosocial ways, the need for teacher involvement and support for implementation and institutionalization of any schoolwide program, the importance of communicating with and involving parents to ensure continued support for and success of school-based programs for students, and the effect of the synergy created by the combination of multiple program factors on a deeper impact for the program may be of interest as schools consider adopting programs to promote students' social and emotional development. Of equal importance, the role of the principal as a moral leader in creating, maintaining, and sustaining a school ethos primed for implementing a program to promote students' social and moral development was also identified as an important contributory factor to the success of the program within the school.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Kuperblum, Amy Ronai, "Promoting students' social and moral development in an elementary school: A case study" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9839511.