Skip to content Skip to navigation

Early Adolescent Purpose Development and Perceived Supports for Purpose at School

Publication Authors: 
Malin, Heather; Liauw, Indrawati; Remington, Kathleen
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
Journal of Character Education, Volume 15(2), pp. 1–20

Purpose is an important aspect of character development and thriving in adolescence; yet, there is little research explaining how it develops or how contexts such as school can support its development. In this study, 1,304 eighth graders completed a survey that measured purpose as the integration of 2 dimensions-- beyond-the-self life goal selection and beyond-the-self life goal commitment--and asked respondents to indicate whether aspects of the school context supported their life goals. Respondents then completed the survey 2 more times at 6-month intervals to assess change in the dimensions of purpose over time. No changes in beyond-the-self goal selection or commitment were found over the duration of the study. School supports significantly predicted beyond-the-self life goal commitment, but not selection of beyond-the-self goals. Additional results suggest that there is a relationship between school context and purpose development in early adolescence, indicating the need for further research.