Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Doris Redfield, Carl Martray, John O'Connor
Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
The purpose of this study was to determine the student characteristics teachers use in assessing students’ moral development. It was hypothesized that a) achievement would be the primary predictor used by teachers to assess students’ moral development, b) despite variance in achievement, students’ moral development would closely approximate the moral development of students in the same grade, and c) teachers would exhibit conventional levels of moral reasoning which are indicative of authority (i.e., stage 4).
Student participants were 81 sixth-graders, 60 seventh-graders, and 60 eighth-graders enrolled in intact social studies classes. Teacher participants were eight elementary social studies teachers and two junior high school social studies teachers. All participants were administered the Defining Issues Test (D.I.T.). Teachers were asked to assign their students a moral reasoning stage score. Students’ Science Research Associates (SRA) Achievement Test scores were used to measure achievement; students’ degree of participation in the Free Lunch Program was used as a measure of student socioeconomic status (SES).
A stepwise multiple regression procedure was used to test the hypothesis that student achievement would be the primary predictor used by teachers to assess students’ moral development. Results indicated that student SES, social studies SRA achievement test score, student grade in school, and student sex accounted for significant amounts of variance in teachers’ ratings of students’ levels of moral reasoning.
Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated for every possible pair of variables to quantify the strength of the association between the variables. Calculations relevant to the stepwise analysis indicated significant relationship between a) teacher ratings and student SES (r=.37, p<.01) and b) teacher ratings and social studies SRA achievement test scores (r=.35, p<.01). Student grade in school and student sex correlated -.14 (n.s.) and -.19 (n.s.), respectively, with teachers ratings.
A 3(grade: 6th vs 7th vs. 8th) x 3(student track: high vs. middle vs. low) ANOVA was performed to test the hypothesis that despite differences in achievement students’ moral development would closely approximate the moral development of students in the same grade. Results indicated a) no significant main effect for track, b) no significant main effect for grade, and c) no significant interaction.
In relation to the hypothesis that teachers would exhibit conventional levels of moral reasoning that are indicative of authority (i.e., stage 4), it was observed that 80% of the teachers exhibited levels of moral reasoning at or above a conventional level. An equal number of teachers were at stage 4 and stage P.
Results of this study indicated that a) student SES and social studies SRA achievement test score were the best predictors of teachers’ ratings of students’ levels of moral development approximated the moral development of students in the same grade, and c) the majority of the teachers sampled exhibited levels of moral reasoning at or above a conventional level. It is suggested that future researchers a) use a larger student and teacher population to increase the confidence in the interpretation of findings, and b) use proctors when administering the D.I.T. to students in lower grades to reduce student frustration in completing the D.I.T.
Child Psychology | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Somatic Psychology | Teacher Education and Professional Development
O'Donnell-De Armond, Elizabeth, "Factors Influencing Teachers' Evaluations of Students' Moral Reasoning" (1986). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 3332.