OUR TRNAVA RESEARCH TEAM
Our team consists of members of the Department of Pedagogical Studies at the Faculty of Education of Trnava University, which, since 1998, provides the bachelor's and master's study program Teaching of Ethical education (ETV), in which more than 400 students have graduated so far. The program is conceptually focused on the prosocial moral formation of a young person (in the intentions of prosociality according to D. Brown, D. Solomon, R. Roche Olivar, E. Staub, N. Eisenberg, O. Lorenz and others).
We started intensive and systematic scientific research in the team about ten years ago, and since then several precious and humanly and professionally beneficial colleagues have taken turns in it. In addition to the five who form the core of the current team, other academics participated in research, curricular transformations and didactic innovations in the practice of Ethical education: Blanka Kudláčová, Ivan Podmanický, Anna Sádovská, Jaroslava Gajdošíková Zeleiová, Peter Szeliga, Martin Dojčár, Peter Kusý and many pregraduate students, PhD students and partner teachers in public schools.
Long-term continuous research creates a research line that has been supported by the projects VEGA (No. 1/0962/13, No. 1/0557/16, No. 1/0056/19; we expect the approval of the project No. 1/0143/23) and projects KEGA (No. 004TTU-4/2020 and No. 009TTU-4/2022). Several objections to the concept of Ethical education (e.g. Grác, Gluchman) pointed to its insufficient philosophical-ethical anchoring and pointed to the absence of empirical research that would help to orient oneself in the real situation of teaching this subject in Slovak schools. We responded to these reservations as part of the solution of the mentioned projects. However, our research did not stop at the seemingly "apologetic" intention.
We believe that the philosophical-ethical analyzes of Ethical education that we have provided are unique in their scope and depth of coverage, not only in Slovak conditions (cf. monographs Podmanický, Rajský et al. 2014; Rajský, Podmanický et al. 2016; Rajský, Wiesenganger et al. 2018, 2021; Brestovanský 2019, 2020). In the philosophical-analytical parts of the publications, we subjected the content of the concept of "prosociality" to a confrontation with selected classic philosophical and ethical doctrines, and deepened the analysis with inspirations from dialogic-personalist philosophy, the phenomenology of friendship and care, as well as an analysis of virtue ethics with regard to prosocial moral education. We have opened up the problem of the relationship of virtue education and normativity, as well as the relationship of virtue and the position of the other in the horizon of morality. We consider various concepts of virtue ethics as well as the philosophy of dialogue to be a good and inspiring theoretical basis for moral education carried out through education for prosociality. The search for a mutual connection between the action of helping and the morality of the actor points to the inadequacy of those ethical concepts whose starting point is man as an individual subject (eg deontological ethics or utilitarianism). The relation to the other disturbs the self-sufficient autonomy of the individual and at the same time transcends the reductive teleological motivation of the action. So far, we have arrived at theses that a) responding to the appeal of the "face of the other" (cf. E. Lévinas), which obliges the moral subject to responsibility and care, is directly related to the cultivation of his virtue; b) developing a prosocial (non-egoistic) setting of a forming person can contribute to building his own moral character. We have identified the frameworks of the common space of prosocial behavior and the inner movement of a person towards his own moral excellence (virtue). We subjected the process of moral reasoning to a philosophical analysis in the context of the virtue of phronesis and its pedagogical development. The stated results of the theoretical-philosophical research open up a new research perspective, which has been established in the international interdisciplinary scientific as well as practically educationally oriented discourse in the issue of character education. In the emphasis on "character education" within the development of moral education, it is possible to follow the so-called aretaic turn, which was recorded in the ethics of the second half of the 20th century. In today's already established concepts of "character education", their genetic connection with contemporary virtue ethics is shown. However, this interdisciplinary philosophical-pedagogical connection has not yet been sufficiently explored and subjected to rigorous analysis, especially in the context of education for prosociality, although the concept of ethical education intuitively counted on these starting points. The research team developed a philosophical and pedagogical concept of "prosocial moral character" in the background of philiatic virtue ethics and the philosophy of dialogue.
Ethical education is conceived as character education based on ethics of virtue and ethics of care with an emphasis on the development of prosocial behavior and prosocial moral reasoning. Achieving these goals leads to experiencing life fulfillment (eudaimonia in Aristotelian terminology), which can be partially represented by the psychological concepts of salutogenic noodynamics and life meaningfulness, based on V.E. Frankl's logotheory. As for the team's empirical research, we carried out a long-term pedagogical experiment, thanks to which we were able to observe, analyze and evaluate the trajectory of the development of prosocial behavior and prosocial moral reasoning down to the level of the individual in the entire critical period from 11-15 years old (5th to 9th class of primary schools, four measurements during five years 2014-2018). The final battery of research instruments included: the Revised Prosocial Behavior Scale PROS (Roche & Sol, 1998); Prosocial moral reasoning test PROM (Carlo & Eisenberg and Knight, 1992); Ethical education evaluation EEE (Brestovanský, 2015); Teacher´s interpersonal behaviour scale - ISU (Wubbels et al.,1987, modified according to Vašičková, 2015); Life meaningfullness scale (Halama, 2002); Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire – QDCS (Kottkamp, Mulhern a Hoy, 1987) / KUZ (Urbánek & Chvál, 2012) and the Portrait Values Questionnaire PVQ-21 (Schwartz, 2002). As part of multiple data collection, we obtained unique results in the selection of 343 – 577 pupils and 177 teachers from 20 primary schools. Between the control group and the experimental group, there were no significant differences in the changes in the observed variables, but within the experimental group itself, a wide spectrum of the effects of ethical education developed, depending on the popularity of Ethical education among pupils (Brestovanský et al., 2016; Brestovanský, Rajský, & Podmanický, 2021). This, in turn, was significantly influenced by the teacher's interpersonal behaviour (interaction) style. The teacher's interaction style is also a direct predictor of pupils' prosocial behavior (Sádovská & Kusý, 2019) and the development of higher types of pupils' prosocial moral reasoning (Brestovanský, 2020b).
In accordance with one of the main hypotheses, the research showed significant connections between prosocial behavior and the perception of meaningfulness in life. In the prediction model of the regression analysis, the prosocial behavior of the 6th class pupils explained 16% of the variance of life meaning, while the addition of the popularity index of Ethical education strengthened the model to 25%. It can be concluded that where Ethical education is carried out by a high-quality teacher with a good pedagogical approach, its popularity and, consequently, the impact on behavior, moral reasoning and the experience of meaningfulness among pupils grows. We published the entire research design and partial results of the analyzes in several book and journal publications (Brestovanský, Kusý, & Adamkovič, 2016; Brestovanský, M., Gajdošíková Zeleiová, J. & Kusý, P., 2016; Brestovanský, 2016; Sádovská & Kusý, 2018; Brestovanský et al. 2022). Direct didactic support for teachers remained as our challenge, so that they could build the procedural side of Ethical education so that it remains a vital, cognitive and emotional challenge even for older, more critical students. The research team responded to this challenge with a follow-up qualitative research project (2019-2022), which was aimed at the procedural side of Ethical education with an emphasis on the phase of moral reflection with the support of the principles of dialogical teaching. The process of moral value reflection was pilot evaluated through the analysis of video recordings of ETV classes (Brestovanský 2019, 2020; Martincová 2020, 2021). One of the key problems was identified as the fact that the ethical analysis, which is part of the ETV lesson, shows a low stimulus (non-functional sensibilization/ evocation phase), consequently a superficial ethical analysis and an absent connection with real moral practice.
It turns out that ethical knowledge and narrowly understood cognitive abilities of students do not have an exclusive impact on the overall moral experience and on the harmonious transfer to their ethical-moral practice. Knowledge about the gap between ethical reasoning and moral action is part of classical philosophical theses, but it is also part of the current psychological discussion about the so-called attitude-behavior gap, or intention-behavior gap, or KAP-gap (knowledge-attitudes-practice gap), in which the study authors point to the necessity of other integrating activities (sensibilization, training, dramatization, habitualization) that can contribute to the integrity of beliefs and actions of the participants. We want to continue to address this gap as a problem within the framework of moral pedagogy – at the level of research and at the level of instructional innovations. The "multicomponent model" of moral education proposed by colleagues from the Jubilee Center for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham (UK) (among them our respectable symposium guest Liz Gulliford) is very close to the model of prosocial character education developed by us, integrating moral reasoning with moral experience (feeling), with training (practice in the classroom), with transfer to the extracurricular environment and with habituation (acquiring permanent ways of doing).
In view of the ongoing reform of the state education curriculum at primary schools in Slovakia, our ambition is to incorporate this concept into the renewed educational standards.
Selected publication outputs of our team from the mentioned researches
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2013) Pedagogika voľného času 2. Pedagogika zážitku a hra. Trnava: Trnavská univerzita.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2019). Hodnoty, vzťahy a škola. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis. ISBN 978-80-568-0143-7
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2020b). Prosociálne morálne uvažovanie. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis. ISBN 978-80-568-0277-9
Dojčár, M. (2017) Self‑Transcendence and Prosociality. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
KUDLÁČOVÁ, B. (ed.) (2002) Etika a etická výchova v školách. Trnava: PdF TU v Trnave.
Kudláčová, B. (ed.) (2004) Etická výchova ako súčasť univerzitného vzdelávania. Trnava: PdF TU.
PODMANICKÝ, I. (2012) Teória a prax etickej výchovy 1. VŠ skriptá. Trnava: PdF TU.
PODMANICKÝ, I. – RAJSKÝ, A. et al. (2014) Prosociálnosť a etická výchova. Skúsenosti a perspektívy. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis.
RAJSKÝ, A. – PODMANICKÝ, I. et al. (2016) Človek človeku. K prameňom etickej výchovy. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis.
RAJSKÝ, A. – WIESENGANGER, M. et al. (2018) Pomoc druhému na ceste cnosti. K filozoficko-etickým aspektom prosociálnosti. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis.
RAJSKÝ, A. – WIESENGANGER, M. et al. (2021). Relationality in Education of Morality. Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag. ISBN 978-3-631-85264-4
Wiesenganger, M. – Katrincová, T. (2017) Mravná výchova v štátnom národnom školstve na Slovensku v rokoch 1918-1939. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis.
Articles in journals, chapters in books
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2008) Spätná väzba učiteľov etickej výchovy a z nej plynúce výzvy pre teóriu a metodiku predmetu. In: Pedagogická evaluace '08 / Sociália 2008.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2016) Prosocial Moral Reasoning and Behaviours: the Role of Ethics Education. In: Forum Pedagogiczne, (6)2, s. 293-308. Dostupné na http://czasopisma.uksw.edu.pl/index.php/fp/issue/view/38.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. (2020a). Meaning in Life and Ethical Education. Spitiruality Studies, 6(1), pp. 24-33.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M., GAJDOŠÍKOVÁ ZELEIOVÁ, J. & KUSÝ, P. (2016). Realizácia výskumu etickej výchovy a výskumné závery. In A. RAJSKÝ & I. PODMANICKÝ, eds., Človek človeku. K prameňom etickej výchovy. Trnava: Typi Universitatis Tyrnaviensis – VEDA SAV, ss. 194-265.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. – KUSÝ, P. – ADAMKOVIČ, M. (2016) Faktorová analýza testu prosociálneho morálneho uvažovania u 11-12 ročných žiakov základných škôl. In: Československá psychologie. 60(5), s. 455-467.
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. – RAJSKÝ, A. – PODMANICKÝ, I. (2021). Ethical Education in Slovakia: Roots, Pedagogical Issues, and Research Findings. In Relationality in Education of Morality. Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag. S. 99-131 ISBN 978-3-631-85264-4
BRESTOVANSKÝ, M. – SÁDOVSKÁ, A. – KUSÝ, P. – MARTINCOVÁ, R. – PODMANICKÝ, I.: Development of Prosocial Moral Reasoning in Young Adolescents and Its Relation to Prosocial Behavior and Meaningfulness of Life: Longitudinal Study. In Studia Psychologica, Vol. 64, No. 3, 2022, 295-312 https://doi.org/10.31577/sp.2022.03.855
MARTINCOVÁ, R. (2020). Poňatie dialógu z hľadiska dialogického vyučovania a filozofie dialógu. Komparácia dvoch prístupov = The Concept of Dialogue in Terms of Dialogic Teaching and Philosophy of Dialogue. Comparison of Two Approaches. In: Scientia et eruditio. - ISSN 25858556. - Roč. 4, č. 2 (2020), s. 18-31.
MARTINCOVÁ, R. (2021). Methodological questions for examining the quality of moral reflection in ethical education classes. In: Aktuální problémy pedagogiky ve výzkumech studentů doktorských studijních programů 16. - Olomouc : Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, 2021. ISBN 978-80-244-6011-6.
PODMANICKÝ, I. (2005) Učiteľ etickej výchovy v súčasnej školskej edukácii. In: Na cestě s etickou výchovou. Kroměříž: Etické fórum ČR, s. 37-41.
SÁDOVSKÁ, A. & KUSÝ, P. (2019). Vzťah interakčného štýlu učiteľa a seba-vnímanej životnej zmysluplnosti v kontexte prosociálnosti. Československá psychologie, 63(4), pp. 476-490.