Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Join/Renew
Simply Solid Strategies
Blog Home All Blogs
Get evidenced-based tips emailed to you monthly so you can start developing students who are internally-motivated and who feel like [not just talk about] acting ethically- so you never have to use short-lived incentives to motivate again. (Or worry that your student might end up in the news one day for all the wrong reasons.) Click "subscribe" to be notified when new a new tip is posted.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: [Grade: Middle]  [User Group: Teachers]  [Grade: Lower]  [Grade: Upper]  [Subject: Moral Development & Character Education]  [Type: Article]  [User Group: Administration]  [User Group: Parents]  well-being  autonomy  competence  discipline  meaning  purpose  self-control  spiritual  abstinence  academic integrity  behavior  belonging  Character Education  cheating  Crisis  emotional intelligence  Grief  grit  growth mindset  honor  honor systems  integrity 

Exciting CSEE Leadership Changes

Posted By Jillianne Bandstra, Monday, November 17, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have you heard the news? CSEE has some exciting leadership changes coming this summer.

Here's the brief: David Streight will step down as CSEE's Executive Director to focus on continuing his scholarly endeavors in applying evidence-based research on what works in youth development to education (like a 3rd edition of Breaking into the Heart of Character and a yet to be released companion volume). Bob Mattingly will take over the executive director duties.

Read more about Bob and the exciting transition. We look forward to the next 100 years!

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Repurposing Peer Pressure

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Thursday, October 9, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 9, 2014

Repurposing Popular Student Peer Pressure

Kids most susceptible to peer influence follow the example especially of those they consider popular. Can we use "popular" students more effectively as character models?

We've long known about peer pressure, but increasing light is shining on the value of peers that model, and establish, what "normal" behavior is--or should be--at school. In January (2014), the Simply Solid Strategies issue on honor and academic integrity noted that "students are less likely to cheat when they perceive that cheating does not happen regularly among their peers." Yes, when kids believe "everyone is cheating," they themselves are more inclined to cheat. But it's not just about cheating.

Last month's issue of Developmental Psychology reported an insightful study on how high school sexual behavior is similarly influenced by what students perceive to be the "normal" behavior among peers (Choukas-Bradley et al., 2014).

What's most important about this study, though, is that the actions of kids perceived as "popular" are discovered to be much more influential than what just "other kids" are doing.

An equally important, related finding: kids who are least secure in themselves and most susceptible to peer influence (even when not directly pressured), are especially prone to emulate the believed behavior of these peers. So what the popular kids are doing is not necessarily the issue, but rather what socially insecure students think the popular kids are doing.

For the study, ninth-grade students were surveyed over an 18 month period from the perspective of three factors: 1) their susceptibility to peer pressure (via an independent measure) 2) their perceptions of the number of sexual partners the peers considered "popular" had had (the number was manipulated via an experimentally controlled computer "chat room"), and 3) the number of sexual partners the ninth-graders in question ended up having over a series of six-month periods.

Over the course of the assessment period, not all students who believed the popular kids were engaging in more sexual behavior actually engaged in more sexual encounters themselves. However, those kids who a) were less secure in their ability to resist pressures to conform, and b) believed that the popular kids had a great number of sexual partners, did indeed engage in more sexual behavior. In other words, the less secure about his or her own sense of self a student was, the more he or she tended to follow suit to the perceived actions of the popular kids.

Now what?
There are at least three important takeaways from this finding, certainly in the domain of sexual behavior, apparently also in the area of cheating and academic integrity, and thus possibly also in other areas of student interactions. The first has two parts to it, and concerns when sharing numerical details with students is most, and least, effective. What to do depends on what we know about actual student behaviors, and what kids perceive about the prevalence of these behaviors.

Assess the numbers
• When incidence of undesirable behaviors is low, we would do well to let students know how low it is. In doing so, we help students understand—possibly contrary to their beliefs—that what they are hearing about is far from the norm. In this case, most students are not doing it.

However, when we know incidence of undesirable behaviors is high, we may do better to address the behaviors in ways other than sharing specific numbers that illustrate a prevalence.

Enlist popular students as models
Modeling is powerful and, happily, the modeling of positive behaviors may have greater effect than modeling of negative behaviors. We get the most out of our efforts if those that are perceived to be the most popular students help spread the word about laudable behaviors—and if they model them, too.

Work on skills with those most susceptible to peer influence
What this study demonstrates (the findings are consistent with what we’ve known in regard to cheating) is that those who are least secure in their social standing are most easily influenced to follow the perceived leader. We would thus do well to teach the skills of independent thinking and resistance to pressure, when we know who these students are. Ideally, can we find ways to have more popular students model these refusal skills for their peers, rather than just going over the skills in class?


Chouckas-Bradley, S., Giletta, M., Widman, L, Cohen, G.L., & Prinstein, M.J. (2014) Experimentally measured susceptibility to peer influence and adolescent sexual behavior trajectories: A preliminary study. Developmental Psychology, 50, 9, 2221-2227.


This post has not been tagged.

Share |

Mindfulness & Behavior

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Thursday, July 10, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mindfulness and its implication on well-being

It has long been known that the practice of mindfulness (see box) adds both clarity and vividness to one's experience, and that it facilitates a closer sensory connection to life. In the last decade or so, a number of researchers have been looking at how the practice of mindfulness also helps the process of self-regulation of behavior--and at the implications of such behavior for academics, psychological and social health, and well-being. Self-regulation is, after all, what a number of character educators would hope for as at least one result of their efforts. The beauty in mindfulness training is that it has so many beneficial effects, and so few drawbacks.



"Mindfulness is associated with enhanced executive functioning, better self-regulation, greater autonomy, and enhanced relationship capacities...all attests to the fact that when individuals are more mindful they are more capable of acting in ways that are more choiceful and more openly attentive to and aware of themselves and the situations in which they find themselves." 

(Brown, Ryan, Creswell, 2007, p. 227)


Mindfulness and autonomous action

In a summary statement about research on mindfulness, Kirk Warren Brown, Richard Ryan, and J. David Creswell noted that  "mindfulness is associated with enhanced executive functioning, better self-regulation, greater autonomy, and enhanced relationship capacities...all attests to the fact that when individuals are more mindful they are more capable of acting in ways that are more choiceful and more openly attentive to and aware of themselves and the situations in which they find themselves." (p. 227)


Mindfulness and self-expression

Several studies lend support to the role mindfulness plays in both behavioral self-control and self-endorsed (that is, autonomous) self-expression. Barnes, Brown, Krusemark, Campbell, and Rogge (2007) found that mindfulness had a greater ability to help individuals override or change inner reactions, and to interrupt and refrain from reacting to situations in ways they would prefer not to. Mindful individuals tend to engage in less habitual responding than their peers. It is as if the practice of mindfulness created mental space--more opportunity for autonomous choice--and thus helped one break habitual patterns. Mindful individuals feel more willful and congruent in their actions (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and their practice has been shown to help people in attaining their goals, including academic goals (Brown and Vansteenkiste, 2006). There thus appears to be much to be gained from the practice--academically, psychologically, and especially in the way that the practice enhances the basis of well-being and human flourishing.



Barnes, S., Brown, K.W., Krusemark, E., Campbell, W. K., & Rogge, R. D. (2007). The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and responses to relationship stress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.


Brown, K.W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.


Brown, K.W., Ryan, R.M., & Creswell, J.D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 4, 211-237.


Brown, K. W., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2006). Future and present time perspectives, goal-attainment, and well-being: Antithetical or complementary? 



Mindfulness - A Practice


The particular practice of mindfulness discussed here refers to that developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Clinic at Massachusetts Medical Center. The practice in many of the studies mentioned here began with teaching participants about meditation and mind-body connection, and then having them engage in the actual exercise of meditation in both group meetings and at home; this was followed by group discussion regarding problem solving and daily applications of mindfulness. 


The meditation component entails the attempt to be fully present in the moment. As breaths enter and leave the body, the practitioner attempts to be fully aware of the sensation they engender. Specifics of engaging in the practice may be found in Jon Kabat-Zinn's book,
Mindfulness for Beginners or his CD/Audiobook
Guided Mindfulness Meditation.


Tags:  [Grade: Lower]  [Grade: Middle]  [Grade: Upper]  [Subject: Moral Development & Character Education]  [Type: Article]  [User Group: Administration]  [User Group: Parents]  [User Group: Teachers]  behavior  meditation  mindfulness  self-control  spiritual  well-being 

Share |
PermalinkComments (1)

Teens & Sex

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Teens and Sex

In 2011, 47 percent of US high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse. 


A third of that group said they had had sex within the last 3 months. Fifteen percent had had four or more different partners so far. Nearly 750,000 teens become pregnant each year - the vast majority (82 percent) of these pregnancies are unintended. By comparison, the United States' teen pregnancy rate is over three times that of Germany (19 percent), almost three times that of France (26 percent) and over four times that of the Netherlands (14 percent).


Source: Sex Schools and Social Suicide, Kevin Ryan, MercatorNet,



Abstinence Education - is this the way?

Turning some of these problematic facts into practical solutions can be a controversial task or a matter of trial and error ("let's see what sticks"). We see passionate political debates across the board about the right approach--is it more important to promote safer-sex practices, abstinence education in schools, or a combination of the two? What happens when the effectiveness of practices clashes with personal beliefs?


See character educator Tom Lickona's views in Excellence & Ethics, which lay out many of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs' arguments for abstinence education.


Click here to read the articles


The "True Love Test"

A truly loving relationship, based on mutual respect and caring, requires a combination of wisdom and sensitivity. Tom Lickona's test is designed to help students look objectively at the character of a person they are romantically attracted to or involved with.


Click here to see the test


Tags:  [Grade: Lower]  [Grade: Middle]  [Grade: Upper]  [Subject: Moral Development & Character Education]  [Type: Article]  [User Group: Administration]  [User Group: Parents]  [User Group: Teachers]  abstinence  love  self-control  sex  well-being 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Creating a Philosophy of Discipline

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Monday, March 17, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Creating a Philosophy of Discipline

A philosophy of discipline: maximize effectiveness of disciplinary measures (to foster moral and ethical growth) 


Every school has a discipline policy, yet very few schools have articulated their


of discipline. Thoughtful schools are now beginning to do so and for good reason. Why does it matter? It matters in at least two ways: first, because the short term goals in many discipline policies work against the long term goals of the school's mission; and second, because how a school "does discipline" has a powerful effect on the school's moral and ethical culture. Since every school has (and should have) at least occasional discipline problems, these situations offer excellent avenues to foster--or to undermine--moral development. 


Discipline policies usually aim first at curtailing misbehavior, and then try to do so in a way that is (a) relatively fair, (b) relatively easy to administer, and (c) relatively free of practices that could be criticized by either outsiders or a court of law. 


These considerations all look at the short term, however, or at ease of administration. The way a school addresses disciplinary infractions should be seen as an extension of the school's mission-guided goals, which are long-term goals.



What Does a Philosophy of Discipline Include?
  1. A foundational statement (a sentence or two might suffice) of the school's beliefs about human nature from which the rest will flow.   

  2. A statement regarding the school's position on the purpose of education. What we want to accomplish as a school (e.g. compassionate leadership, lifelong learning, self-management of behavior).   

  3. A general statement regarding how the school's disciplinary policies align with the first two statements.      
  4. An outlined  process (ideally, flexible) that the school intends to follow in regards to points 1, 2, and 3. 

For more in-depth guiding questions to shape and refine a philosophy, including a sample, 


click here for some guiding questions to shape a philosophy (member resource)


Tags:  [Grade: Lower]  [Grade: Middle]  [Grade: Upper]  [Subject: Moral Development & Character Education]  [Type: Article]  [User Group: Administration]  [User Group: Parents]  [User Group: Teachers]  discipline 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
Page 2 of 4
1  |  2  |  3  |  4


CSEE | 910 M Street NW #722, Washington, DC 20001 | (800) 298-4599



Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal