Study of the effectiveness of a curriculum designed to enhance elementary students' understanding of concepts espoused by Nobel Peace Prize winners
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The purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate a peace education curriculum for school children. It was based on peace concepts from the lives and works of recognized peacemakers; Nobel Peace Prize winners; heroes and heroines of nonviolence; and observations from noteworthy peacemaking events. The study was to determine whether students who were taught peace concepts in a structured peace curriculum would have a greater understanding of those concepts than students who were not taught. A sample, consisting of 45 subjects in two fifth grade classes, was selected to be the experimental group for the study. Forty-five subjects in two fifth grade classes at the same elementary school were selected to be the control group. The curriculum was taught to the experimental group in an interdisciplinary fashion for 20 days by five instructors in the classroom, art, music, and physical education instruction, using the format of collaborative education, learning teams, and creative writing. Data from the posttest given to the 90 students in the experimental group and the control group were collected and analyzed. No pretest was given to either group. Content from posttest data were rated by a select panel of three education-oriented judges by use of a continuum on a specifically designed "Peace Education Evaluation" form. The findings from the analysis of the data showed that the experimental group produced statistically significant results in every peace concept taught in the curriculum. Girls consistently scored higher than boys in the analysis of the study. On the basis of this study, the use of the interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of a peace curriculum is effective. The contributions made in the integrated classes were impressive, as these instructors provided indepth activities that enhanced the curriculum;Instruction for this curriculum was designed to take place in a collaborative education mode so that the teacher models and facilitates learning of the concepts in a respectful environment. Instruction included small groups of three persons arranged to include at least one boy and one girl in each triad, selected from high, low, and medium achievers (learning teams) so as to encourage maximum opportunity for children to learn from one another. Creative writing was used as a key component as an evaluation for this curriculum and provided insights into depths of understanding of the peace concepts.