Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Doris Redfield, Carl Martray, John O'Connor


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Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this study was to apply a unique cognitive intervention approach, Instrumental Enrichment (Feuerstein, 1980), to college students in a moral education intervention. Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment (IE) Program is based upon the theory of cognitive modifiability. Feuerstein believed that the cognitive structure of an organism could be developed through two modalities: 1) direct exposure learning and 2) mediated learning experience (MLE). Feuerstein's IE program, based upon the theory of cognitive modifiability, potentially provides the following: 1) a methodical approach to moral education intervention; 2) a program to encourage students to improve the effectiveness of their thinking about moral issues; and 3) a method to apply the information they learn in their every day lives to help with moral issues they face. It was hypothesized that this moral education intervention would be effective in promoting the level of moral reasoning in college students. Subjects were 58 undergraduate students enrolled in two sections of Introduction to Ethics and one section of Abnormal Psychology. The Ethics class sections were randomly assigned to experimental conditions consisting of MLE vs. direct exposure learning. The Psychology class section was selected for the control group. One section of Ethics received instruction based upon a modified use of the IE Program with MLE. The other section of Ethics focused on direct exposure learning of factual content and testing. The control group was a no treatment (or placebo treatment) group. Treatment duration was approximately three and one-half hours per week for ten weeks. This study assumed a pretest-posttest control/comparison group design. Results of this intervention showed no significant main effects for treatment or trials as measured by the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979). Neither were there any significant interactions. Factual information as measured by a knowledge of content test indicated a significant trials effect across groups. There was no significant treatment effect and no significant trials by treatment interaction. It was concluded that in order to determine the effectiveness of IE as a method of moral education intervention for promoting moral reasoning, future studies applying IE to moral education need to be done for more than ten weeks.


Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences