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Character Focused Approach Framework

Mar 24, 2023

The Character Focused Approach Framework was researched and written by the Character Core team in the School of Education with support from the Kern Family Foundation. Authors include Amelia Azul Elgas, M.Ed., Learning Experience Designer; Dr. Carrie Pottinger, Project Manager III; and Dr. Mary Lombardo Graves, Sr. Program Designer.  

The Teachers College at WGU has been deeply engaged in research to build and deliver a character framework. The Character Focused Approach Framework is now published and freely available to the public. 


About the Framework

The Character Focused Approach Framework was created by the Character Core Team in WGU’s Teachers College to cohesively guide all character work, as well as offer a viable model to other interested universities, schools, and professional settings. The Character Core team engaged in a comprehensive development, feedback, and review cycle with WGU faculty and staff, and partners throughout the Kern Family Foundation Network. The Framework will continue to evolve as character work in the Teachers College advances.

Using the WGU Character Core Skills Collection, (see page 4 of the Framework) together with other seminal character frameworks (Berkowitz, 2021;, 2021; Harrison, 2020; Tichnor-Wagner, et al. 2021; Arthur, et al., 2016), the Character Core team developed the Character Focused Approach.

Character Focused Approach Framework

The Character Focused Approach aims to develop communities composed of learners, leaders, and teachers who are guided by positive Character Qualities, thus contributing to the collective well-being of the community.


The Approach prioritizes creating healthy learning and working environments where all individuals feel a sense of belonging; where they are seen, heard, valued, and supported to thrive and reach their fullest potential. The Character Focused Approach is a college-wide effort that strives to support healthy learning and working environments by intentionally promoting character throughout WGU’s Teachers College, as well as offering a viable framework for K-12, higher education, and workforce communities.

The Character Focused Approach is foundational to the Next Generation Education model, a model that is grounded in the belief that the art and science of teaching, learning, and leading in education must continually evolve--become better and better with each subsequent generation. In each step of education’s evolution to “become better and better” the key character questions are asked: What leads to the greatest good? How can we thrive individually and collectively? This requires constant self-reflection, adaptation, and innovation, along with a steadfast dedication to character development and growth. When institutions and communities prioritize ethical procedures and systems, individuals are more fully supported in their own character development and thriving lives.

The Character Focused Approach includes the 28 Character Qualities and 170 Rich Skill Descriptors (see Appendix 3 in the Framework) from the Character Core Skills Collection that are organized into four interconnected areas of Character; Community, Intellectual, Ethical, Performance (adapted from Jubilee Center, 2020; Shields, 2011).

Character Qualities are traits or characteristics such as optimism, integrity, and patience that are developed over time through life experience and learning. The organization of Character Focus Qualities into the four areas of Character provides a general guideline. While the four areas of character serve as an organizational structure for the Character Qualities of the Character Focused Approach Framework, they are not fixed. For example, the Character Quality of critical thinking is listed under Intellectual Practice but may be considered Community or Performance character in certain circumstances or settings.

Access the Framework to learn more about its Guiding Principles, Steps to Implementing the Character Focused Approach, Examples of Character Promoting Activities in the WGU Teachers College, and Examples of the Character Focused Approach in K-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Settings.

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