Sandra Simpkins Receives John Templeton Foundation Grant to Study Afterschool Activities Support of Character Development
Professor Sandra Simpkins has been awarded a John Templeton Foundation grant for her project: “Enduring Character Virtues: How After-School Organized Activities Support Character Development from Childhood through Young Adulthood.” Co-PIs are Distinguished Professor Jacquelynne Eccles and Professor Deborah Lowe Vandell.
Character virtues are necessary to “fulfill our potential as human beings” (Templeton, 2013). Developmental scientists argue that childhood and adolescence are critical times to foster these virtues. Is this true? And if so, what kinds of experiences are needed to facilitate acquiring these character virtues? We argue that organized after-school activities help keep youth on a virtuous path. Yet, little to no research exists onthese issues. Through this proposal, we will address two Big Questions: (1) What are the patterns and developmental trajectories of character virtues from childhood and adolescence and do they predict successful development in adulthood? (2) What aspects of youth’s organized after-school activities help support youth’s positive character virtue development? We will use cutting-edge statistics on two existing longitudinal datasets to answer these questions. We focus five specific character virtues that include aspects of moral and performance virtues: hard work, self-control, emotion regulation, prosocial behavior, and cooperative behavior. Our findings will chart changes in each of five specific character virtues and the interrelations among those virtues across the first three decades of life. Our findings will also describe which after-school activities are most impactful. The proposed project outcomes will build the field’s knowledge of youth’s character virtue development, influence best practices in organized activities, and help train the next generation of young scholars on character virtues. To ensure that findings will reach academic and practitioner audiences alike, the project outputs include a devoted website; fact sheets for practitioners, schools, and families; conference presentations; and journal publications.
About Professor Simpkins: Professor Simpkins studies how youth development unfolds over time and how the contexts in which youth are embedded influence their development. Her work strives to understand the unique role of SES, immigration, ethnicity, and culture in family functioning and youth development.
About the John Templeton Foundation: "The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. The Foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and emergence to creativity, forgiveness, and free will. The Foundation encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians, as well as between such experts and the public at large. In all cases, the goal is the same: to spur curiosity and accelerate discovery." [Source: https://templeton.org/about/vision-mission-impact]