Studying the teaching of kindness: A conceptual model for evaluating kindness education programs in schools

Deanna M. Kaplan, Madeleine deBlois, Violeta Dominguez, Michele E. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that school-based kindness education programs may benefit the learning and social-emotional development of youth and may improve school climate and school safety outcomes. However, how and to what extent kindness education programming influences positive outcomes in schools is poorly understood, and such programs are difficult to evaluate in the absence of a conceptual model for studying their effectiveness. In partnership with Kind Campus, a widely adopted school-based kindness education program that uses a bottom-up program framework, a methodology called concept mapping was used to develop a conceptual model for evaluating school-based kindness education programs from the input of 123 middle school students and approximately 150 educators, school professionals, and academic scholars. From the basis of this model, recommendations for processes and outcomes that would be useful to assess in evaluations of kindness education programs are made, and areas where additional instrument development may be necessary are highlighted. The utility of the concept mapping method as an initial step in evaluating other grassroots or non-traditional educational programming is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Community-based participatory research
  • Concept mapping
  • Kindness
  • Mixed-method
  • School climate
  • School program
  • School-based prevention
  • Social-emotional learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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