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October 4, 2018 Back to All News

Express C.A.M.P. Achieves Education Goal

From July 9-13 the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics hosted Express C.A.M.P., a summer enrichment program for local first- through fifth-graders. Over 60 Putnam County students participated in the week-long camp. While this was not the first time the camp has been held, it was the first summer that the programming has been evaluated on its effectiveness in teaching young children moral reasoning skills.

Professor Ted Bitner, Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at DePauw University, led the research. Bitner administered a moral development scale on the first day of the camp and the last day. He and his team observed a noticeable shift in 3rd graders in one or two areas of moral development, confirming their expectations.

One area of moral development that was tested was an appreciation of appropriate consequence for an offense. Camp counselors provided an example in which a mother asks their child for a favor but the child refuses, only for the child to later ask the father for a favor. The students were given a series of consequences and had to choose which one they thought was most appropriate for the child. The moral dilemmas are based on the theories of Jean Piaget, whose work focused on child development.

As of now, the data is still be analyzed. Two Hillman interns, Madison Cockreham and Haley Thompson, have been assisting with Bitner’s work. In addition to developing the research design for next year, Cockreham and Thompson have been responsible for conducting an item analysis of the gathered data, looking for significant changes in the subscales of moral development, and looking for significant changes between age groups. Bitner is now focused on making improvements to next year’s Express C.A.M.P. Some changes that will be made include using more verbal assessments and responses instead of writing, and revising the moral dilemmas given to the students.

Next Spring, Professor Jeffrey Dunn of the Philosophy Department will be bringing a philosophy of children curriculum to Ridpath Primary School in Greencastle. It is possible that there will be some crossover in participants from Express C.A.M.P.

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