Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Edward F. DeRoche, PhD, Chair; Raymond Latta, PhD, Member; C. Bobbi Hansen, EdD, Member


adolescents, case study, character education, China, Confucianism, culture, high schools, Leadership studies, principals, school administration, symbols, values


Relatively little is known about the symbolic and cultural leadership practices and approaches used to imbed character education in high schools in China. In addition, there is a lack of published studies and reports investigating the revival between character and moral education in the Chinese school system. Without additional information, it is impossible to understand and develop effective leadership approaches that will shape and mold school cultures to effectively support both character and moral education. The literature reviewed in this study revealed little information about if, and in what form, there is a return to moral education focusing on traditional Chinese, including Confucian-related, values, virtues, and principles in China. The research methodology consisted of a case study of three carefully selected high school principals. The study sought to: (1) identify traditional Chinese, including Confucian-related, values, virtues, and principles held by these principals; (2) describe the roles played by these high school principals in shaping and molding character education; (3) delineate symbolic and cultural leadership approaches used in implementing and supporting character education; and, (4) discuss leadership implications in character education development and implementation. Within the cultural context of China, the researcher developed a symbolic and cultural leadership portrait of the high school principal, and how principals shape and mold school culture through their leadership actions to support character education. The following are some of the general findings of this study: (1) The role of the principals in China is similar to that of a government agent: ie they receive orders and directives that they must follow. Within the school setting, they are the 'lead' character educator and they play out this role by 'modeling' the desired morals and values in both their personal and private lives; (2) Confucian-related moral and ethical teachings were considered helpful and somewhat important in character education by the principals. However, these morals and values were not found in the formal moral curricula established for the respective public high schools in China, rather, they were found in some of the articles used within the school's literature curriculum; (3) the five most important morals and values that should be at the heart of character education programs in China were found to be: patriotism; love to learn; loyalty to one's responsibility; honesty; and filial piety. Based on these findings, six recommendations for further study were made.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access