AN EXPLORATORY DELPHI STUDY ON CHARACTER EDUCATION IN LATIN-AMERICAN COUNTRIES: ARGENTINA, COLOMBIA AND MEXICO

A. Varela, A. Sobrino, C. Naval, A. Bernal

Universidad de Navarra (SPAIN)
'Researching and Promoting Character Education in Latin American Secondary Schools' is a joint research project of the School of Education and Psychology and the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Navarra. It receives funding from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The project aims to stimulate awareness about, and provide practical recommendations for, the cultivation of social and moral virtues in Latin American secondary school students. The team developed during three months a exploratory Delphi study.

In this study we were inspired on Delphi methodology to conduct a survey focused on Character Education in three Latin American countries (Argentina, Colombia and Mexico). The Delphi process has been chosen because it offers a rigorous but small- scale method of consultation that will be able to explore currently unknown questions about Character education issues in these regions.

For the Delphi survey we contact by email with different profiles like universities, researchers and professors, school head-teachers and education administration high-qualified workers. We made 2 rows and a last feedback row, trying to achieve more consensus among the informants and stronger statements about Character Education in these countries.

In the first instance we mixed open and closed questions to identified the big themes in this row. In the second one we redefined the first row questions to create four big blocks (promoting virtues in schools and educational policies, challenges, opportunities, needs, approaches to Character education) of closed questions in order to achieve more well-defined statements among the replies of the informants of each respective country about provision about Character Education in these Latin-American countries, their believes as to whether it is important, and what challenges or opportunities they may see for character education in the region.
For the data analysis we made a mixed analysis, statistical and qualitative.

We can conclude that Character Education is not a well known term in those countries and its conceptualization is more close to Education for peace or Citizen Education than the virtues approach. We also can add that there is a tension among the agents (parents, school staff, and friends) responsible of character education, the importance of sociocultural environment of children, the weakness of policies related with Character Education in secondary schools, and the relevance of the caught and the taught for Character education in and out of the schools.