Lawrence Kohlberg And Moral Development Essay Research

Lawrence Kohlberg And Moral Development Essay, Research Paper Introduction Lawrence Kholberg spent many years researching how individuals develop their own moral codes.

Lawrence Kohlberg And Moral Development Essay, Research Paper

Introduction

Lawrence Kholberg spent many years researching how individuals develop their own moral codes.

For nearly thirty years he has amplified his Cognitive-Developmental theory of moralisation which has now become prominent in the field of moral development and its application to moral education. Kohlberg proposed that moral difficulties motivated their own development through a fixed sequence of increasingly adaptable kinds of moral reasoning.

He conducted most of his work at Harvard University and developed his stage model in 1969.

Working through the 1950 s and 60 s using longitudinal and cross sectional studies he proposed 6 stages of development (see Appendix 1) identified through the responses of children presented with moral dilemmas. Piaget, his former tutor, proposed only 2 stages of moral development these being the Hetronomous and Autonomous stages.

He was not so much interested in the judgments made but the reasons for the judgment, differing from Piaget he saw the stages as part of cognitive development.

He was interested in how people think rather than what they think.

These reasons represent to Kohlberg the structure of judgment, centering around 10 universal moral issues or values. Piaget believed autonomous moral reasoning to occur between ages 10-12 whereas Kohlberg proposes adolescence or even adulthood.

These values are punishment, property and law, roles and concerns of affection, roles and concerns of authority, life, liberty, justice, truth and sex.

From its earliest transmission Kohlberg has not been without critics. Although his work is of unquestionable importance Peter s (1971) warned:

There is a grave danger that they (Kohlberg s findings) may become exhalted into a general theory of moral development may be seen by some to have been fulfilled.

Although Kohlberg s work is vast, the following will look at universality, briefly at gender and morality and following this methodology.

Kohlberg s Universality

The biggest challenge for Kohlberg s theory is to explain how the process of self-creation and mental structures can be universal despite cultural, subcultural and environmental differences that exist in all of us.

The principles of Kohlberg s stage 6 is of universal justice and respect for individual rights Kohlberg (1969, 1971).

Using his moral judgment interview he tried to address confounding factors of universality although latter admitted that the modal ages of any particular stage were variable.

Weinreich, Haste and Locke (1983) suggest this admission shows a failure to see moral judgment in a sufficiently broad socio-cultural context and a lack of appreciation to non-formalist ethical philosophies.

Thus cultural background is expected to influence not just substantive moral values and the integrity with which judgments are in fact acted upon ; it should affect the age norms for any particular transition stages and the stage ceilling in adulthood.

Eckensberger (1994), found that whilst stages 1 and 5 are rare (as is stage 6,) stages 2, 3 and 4 are found in many cultures. The highest stage scores have been found in Israeli Kibbutzim, followed by Germany, together with upper class groups from the US, Taiwan and India, the lowest scores are found in the Bahamas, Kenya, Papua and Turkey. In all these studies, levels of moral reasoning were assessed using Kohlberg s interview method. In recent studies an alternative method has been used in which pencil and paper tests designed for use with groups are used to present a number of predefined arguments from which participants are asked to choose the one they prefer or think most appropriate. Using this alternative method, people from South Korea, Taiwan and Greece score highest, while those from Belize, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago tend to score lower. Whilst there is substantial though by no means complete cross-cultural support of the stages revealed through interviews, Kohlberg also claimed that the moral issues (or content) contained in the dilemmas are universal and complete and the material in his official scoring manual is sufficient to score all kinds of responses. However, recent studies show that this is not so, there are cultural differences in moral themes.

The argument here would be that Kohlberg s universality is evident albeit at lower stages than he suggested.

Turnbull (1973) when studying subjects in Uganda found that although the practical morality of the culture was little more than stage 1, there was evidence to suggest that prior to western intervention the culture was at stage 3.

Little evidence was found for the support of hard stages beyond stage 3.

There is evidence that within non-westernised cultures that many adults can fail to show even concrete-operational intelligence in some tests. Harkness, Edwards and Super (1981) found when studying Kenyan villagers that not even the leaders gave responses above stage 3. Schweder (1991) proposes that Kohlberg failed to take account of social and cultural differences within non western cultures when imposing stage classifications.

Vine (1982) proposed the adequacy of conventional reasoning within these contexts takes even the limited sense in which Kohlberg calls his higher stages morally adequate to be both ethnocentric and even offensive.

Kohlberg s Gender and Morality

According to Carol Gilligan (1977, 1982), the essence of morality for women is not the same as for men. Different upbringings produce different moral orientations: (a) males are socialised to be independent and achievement orientated, so that they become preoccupied with issues such as fair return, equality of teammate and the application of abstract principles to resolve conflicts of interest; (b) females are socialised to be caring and nurturant and to maintain a sense of responsibly towards others. In terms of Kohlberg s theory, these are stages 4 and 3 respectively, which he has taken to mean that female s moral development is typically lower than males.

However, this comparison is fundamentally flawed because it is based on a male concern of morality (i.e. where justice is paramount). Not only was much of Kohlberg s early research carried out with male samples, but most of the dilemmas involve males as principal characters such as the fictitious Heinz, possibly making it easier for males to relate to them.

Again, Kohlberg sees ability to detach from the situation being judged as a measure of advanced morality, while the female role is organised around attachment and concern for other s welfare. Ironically, it seems that the very trait that has traditionally defined goodness for women (their care for, sensitivity to and responsibility towards others) makes them inferior to men in moral development. Instead of seeing female moral reasoning as deficient, Gilligan sees it as different (hence the title of her 1982 book, In a Different Voice) but largely ignored in the male dominated research into moral development.

In her own research, Gilligan interviewed 29 females, aged 15-33, all facing a significant real-life dilemmas, namely whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. The decision involved a conflict between (a) the right to personal choice and (b) the traditional association being femininity, self-sacrifice and caring for others. She identified three levels: self interest, self-sacrifice, and care as a universal obligation; the latter representing a balance between care for others and the well being of the self. It is this care orientated voice that Gilligan suggests Kolhlberg s theory fails to hear.

Holstein (1976) found when studying 13 and 16 years olds that there were little or no differences in stage scores between males and females. Woods (1996) suggests both Gilligan s and Kohlberg s views are polarized in a near sexist manner and that discussion needs to move away from sexual difference and look instead to integrating biological, religious and cultural differences.

Walker (1983) in a review of literature concerning over 70 studies found no evidence to support Gilligan s claim of sex bias.

He also refutes the fact that the characterisation of female morality as separate and different from male morality does not confuse the distinctive process of moral judgment with personality organisation in general.

Murphy and Gilligan (1980) unlike Walker (1983) showed when using the moral judgment interview that males scored approximately one half higher than females. This they suggested supported the claim of sex bias.

Kohlberg s Methodology

The most important part of any research is the method in which the data was collected.

There are 4 basic decisions that any research must take into consideration. Firstly the source of the data. In Kohlberg s choice there is a small set of hypothetical dilemmas followed by a semi structured interview.

Secondly, how you score the data, Kohlberg s scoring system has taken over a decade to develop.

Thirdly how to represent or index subject codes in a summary score. Lastly there must be a proposed validation strategy i.e. what studies are needed and what results need to be obtained in order to measure moral judgment.

Kholberg has relied on face validity, longitudinal change and internal consistency as the main grounds for claiming the validity of his assessment procedures, Rest (1979).

The dilemmas presented (see Appendix 2) cannot claim to represent the domain of all possible moral dilemmas and do not raise issues of wealth, power or opportunity Rest, (1979).

The problem with hypothetical dilemmas is that they are contrived artificial and out of the natural live s of the subjects.

Han (1978) found compatibility between hypothetical and real life dilemmas to be inconsistent and the evidence sparse although Damon (1977) found comparability.

Kohlbergs major research over the last decade has been to develop a new scoring system after identifying several problems. In Kohlbergs 1958 work two scoring systems were devised: one using the sentence or completed thought as the basic unit of analysis, the other global rating, using the subjects answers to a dilemma as the unit of analysis.

The former was found to be influenced by the use of concrete words and any reflected ideas were scored again and again if repeated.

This could lead of problems in classifying conflicting thoughts.

Another problem was that different aspects and topics could arise within a given dilemma.

A third problem is how explicitly must a participant state a problem to be credited with it and how deep or abstract should the analysis be?

The next problem is indexing the procedure, this involves highlighting some information at the expense of other information, emphasing some codes and de-emphasising other codes. This could lead to bias on the side of the interviewer.

Kohlberg proposed the subjects score is the highest stage that is entered throughout the test, where as Damon (1977) proposed a subjects score should be based on the extent to which the lower stages are rejected.

Distinction between stages was hard to find as indeed were the last stages themselves. Runice and Mosher (1967) found evidence of construct validity lacking as did Kurtines and Greif (1974).

Carroll and Rest (1981) on the other hand propose a subjects score is a continuous variable representing the weighted average of the extent of use of the various stages. This would suggest agreeance with Kohlberg.

Kohlberg uses a two step procedure which according to Rest (1979) is a reasonable one, he adds however when allocating a stage number to a subject we must not be led into assuming that the person had only one program of thinking in his or her head at a time.

The next part of the research to address is the validity and the criteria for validating a measure of moral judgment. Recently the Kohlberg group published the results of their new scoring procedure based on a longitudinal study of more than 20 years. The results showed spectacular correlation s for test re-test for reliability with impressive internal consistency with correlations being provided by Gibbs and Widammon (1982) Snavey, Reimer and Nisau (1982) and Walter (1980, 1983) on reflections of the study. This would support the validation of Kohlberg s new scoring system.

Education and Application

Kohlberg s work in curriculum education began eight years after the completion of his doctoral dissertation when he published his first article which proposed the possibility of developmental moral education. Kohlberg emphasised the need for teachers to engage in the presentation of genuine difficult moral conflicts and to communicate with students in such a way as to expose them to new cognitive elements.

He saw the need for the teacher’s level of moral verbalisations to match those of the children.

Willhelm (1977) found that teachers with lots of training as opposed to little generated more reasoning from participant responses thus inferring more than the teachers with less training when using the Moral Judgment interview causing inbalances between interviewers.

Kohlberg attributed his interest and subsequent work to the inspiration of Moshe Blatt and the Blatt effect J.S. Lemming (1981).

Blatt s work exposed children to the next stage level of their suggested current stage and after re-test at the next semester he found they had progressed to the next stage.

He used lengthy moral discussions to explore moral dilemmas and this is the approach Kohlberg adopted until 1978 when he shifted away from the discussion approach to the just community approach as a result of this previous Kohlberg statement becoming dated

Kohlberg now suggested that teachers should deal with moral dilemmas whereas before moral educators would wait until the student had reached stage 5.

In an experiment at a cluster school (where students have equal say to staff) E. Wassenman (1980) describes the new approaches as old wine in new bottles replacing hypothetical dilemmas with real life dilemmas with a focus on collective norms. Lemming (1974) found lower stage reasoning with problems that were dealt with as common problems instead of hypothetical dilemmas.

Gordon (1982) proposes that Kohlberg fails to appreciate the importance of the hidden curriculum, these are the characteristics of classroom life with which children have to come to terms with crowds, praise and power.

He proposed that Kohlberg s contribution could have been far greater if he had not underemphasized or ignored 4 aspects of the hidden curriculum. These are its unplanned and unintended dimension, its connection with the hidden cognitive curriculum, and its being constituted often of contradictionary message blocks which are open to counter hegemonic resistance.

It is these aspects according to Gordon (1982) that undermine Kohlberg s theory. Although he believes they can be incorporated into Kohlberg s framework. Giroux (1981) suggested that hidden curriculum messages may not be spotted by teachers, although often spotted by pupils, messages which imply dominant class hegemonic impositions. This is the governance and informal social relations of the school.

Conclusion

The universality of Kohlbergs stages is evident with the problem being the classification of the stages in regards to when they occur. The first stages being the most common I would suggest the latter being cultural based mainly as a result of western culture where higher quality of education would predict higher ability up to and beyond formal operations although this in no way excludes non western cultures. Thus it could be suggested that moral development is innate to a point where it is then shaped and concluded by the cultural context.

As far as the gender debate pioneered by Gilligan is concerned, there is little evidence to support this. If this were to be the case this without doubt would effect the main underpinning of Kohlbergs work which is undoubtedly not an issue.

Perhaps as we expand the characteristics of what we want moral judgment scores to do, we shall have to revise our notions about which features are important, and we may have to devise new ways of collecting information as well.

But at this time it is clear that Kohlberg and his associates have succeeded grandly in what they originally set out to do.

Overall, Kohlberg’s contribution to the study and practice of moral education is impressive. An understanding of the stages of moral reasoning is an important tool for teachers wishing to engage in meaningful moral dialogue with students.

Appendix 1

Kohlberg s Three Levels (Six Stages) of Moral Development

Moral Development

Level 1Pre-conventional Stage 1 (Punishment and Obedience orientation)What is right and wrong is determined by what is punishable and what is not if stealing is wrong, it is because authority figures say so and because they will punish it ( right makes right ). Moral action is essentially the avoidance of punishment. Stage 2 (Instrumental relativist orientation)What is right and wrong is determined by what brings rewards and what people want. Other people s needs and wants come into the picture, but only in a reciprocal sense ( you scratch my back, I ll scratch yours ).

Level 2:Conventional Stage 3 (Interpersonal concordance or good boy-nice girl orientation)Good behaviour is whatever pleases and helps others and doing what they approve of. Being moral is being a good person in your own eyes and those of others . What the majority things is right is right by definition. Stage 4 ( Law and order orientation)Being good means doing one s duty showing respect for authority and maintaining the social order (status quo) for its own sake. Concern for the common good goes beyond the Stage 3 concern for the welfare of one s family: society protects the rights of individuals, so society must be protected by the individual. Laws are unquestionably accepted and obeyed.

Level 3:Post-conventional Stage 5 (Social contract-legalistic orientation)Since laws are established by mutual agreement, they can be changed by the same democratic process. Although laws and rules should be respected, since they protect individual rights as well as those of society as a whole, individual rights can sometimes supersede these laws if they become too destructive or restrictive. The law should not be obeyed at all costs, e.g. life is more sacred than any legal principle. Stage 6 (Universal-ethical principles orientation)Moral action is determined by our inner conscience and may/may not be in agreement with public opinion or society s laws. What is right or wrong is based upon self-chosen, ethical principles which we arrived at through reflection they are not demanded by society as such. These principles are abstract and universal, such as justice, equality, the sacredness of human life and respect for human dignity; only if we act in accordance with them can we attain full moral responsibility.

Appendix 2

Summary of Hypothetical Dilemmas

Form A

1. Should Heinz steal an over price drug in order to save his dying wife?

2. Should Heinz be punished for stealing?

3. Should a boy refuse to give his father the map that Joe had earned himself in order to go to camp?

Form B

1. Should a doctor commit Euthanasia for a terminally ill patient who requests it?

Should a girl tattle on her sister who lied to her mother after the mother had broken a promise?

Bibliography

Blatt, M.M & Kohlberg. L (1975 The Effects of Classroom Moral Discussion Upon Children s Level of Moral Judgment Journal of Moral Education 4, 2 pp 129-61

Giroux, H.A. (1981) Heyenomonic, Resistance and the Paradox of Educational Reform Interchange 12, 2/3 pp 3-26

Gordon, D. (1982) The Concept of the Hidden Curriculum Journal of Philosophy of Education. 16,2 pp 187-98

Mosher, R.L. (1980) A Democratic High School : Coming of Age In Mosher R.L. (Ed) Moral Education : A First Generation of Research and Development New York Praegon

Wasserman, E.R (1980) An Alternative High School Based on Kohlberg s Just Community Approach to Education In Mosher R.L. (Ed) Moral Education: A First Generation of Research and Development New York, Praegen

Lemming, J.S. Contemporary Approaches to Moral Education: An Annotated bibliography and Guide to Research. New York Gearland Publishing pp 149-72

Rest, J.R. (1979) Development in Judging Moral Issues, Minneapolis, Minn, University of Minnesota Press.

Eisenberg-Berg N, (1979) Relationships of pro-social Moral Reasoning to Altruism, Political Liberalism and Intelligence Developmental Psychology 15, pp 87-9

Dunnon, W. (1977) The Social World of a Child San Fransise Jossey-Biss

Walker, L.J. (1983 in press) Sex Differences in the Development of Moral Reasoning: A Critical Review of the Literature Child Development

Kurtines, W. Gray E. (1974) The development of Moral Thought Review and Evaluation of Kohlberg s Approach; Psychological Bulletin 81 8 pp 453-70

Ruma, E. Mosha, D (1967) Relationship Between Moral Judgment and Quilt in Delinquent Boys; Journal of Abnormal Psychology 72, 2 pp 122-7

Murphy, J. Gilligan, C. (1980) Moral Development in Late Adolescence and Adulthood: A Critique and Reconstruction of Kohlberg s Therapy; Human Development 23, 2 pp 77-104

Holstein, C. (1976) Irreversible, Stepwise Sequence in the Development of Moral Judgment: A Longitudinal Study of Males and Females; Child Development 47, 1 pp 51-61

Lemming, J. (1974) An Empirical examination of Key Assumptions Underlying the Kohlberg Rationale for Moral Education; ERIC Document Reproduction Service Number ED 093-749

Willhel, F. (1977) The Effects of the Extent of Training on Teacher Discussion behaviours and Children s Moral Reasoning Development; Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Stage University of New York at Albany

Modgil, S. & Modgil, C. (1985) Kohlberg, L. Consensus and Controversy, International Masterminds Challenge, Falmer Press England

Pepperdine University http://moon.pepperdine.edu/asep/class/ethics/kohlberg/pro%26con_argumentsh+ml

Woods, C. (1986) Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality 1996; Vol 24(4) 375-384

Wilson, R. (1995) Moral Interventions in Education Setting. http://www.interchg.vbc.ca/rw/psy413-1.htm

Gross. R, (1996) Psychology The Science of Mind and Behaviour.Hodder and Stoughton.

A CRITICAL EVALUATION

OF KOHLBERG S THEORY OF

MORAL DEVELOPMENT

Introduction

Lawrence Kholberg spent many years researching how individuals develop their own moral codes.

For nearly thirty years he has amplified his Cognitive-Developmental theory of moralisation which has now become prominent in the field of moral development and its application to moral education. Kohlberg proposed that moral difficulties motivated their own development through a fixed sequence of increasingly adaptable kinds of moral reasoning.

He conducted most of his work at Harvard University and developed his stage model in 1969.

Working through the 1950 s and 60 s using longitudinal and cross sectional studies he proposed 6 stages of development (see Appendix 1) identified through the responses of children presented with moral dilemmas. Piaget, his former tutor, proposed only 2 stages of moral development these being the Hetronomous and Autonomous stages.

He was not so much interested in the judgments made but the reasons for the judgment, differing from Piaget he saw the stages as part of cognitive development.

He was interested in how people think rather than what they think.

These reasons represent to Kohlberg the structure of judgment, centering around 10 universal moral issues or values. Piaget believed autonomous moral reasoning to occur between ages 10-12 whereas Kohlberg proposes adolescence or even adulthood.

These values are punishment, property and law, roles and concerns of affection, roles and concerns of authority, life, liberty, justice, truth and sex.

From its earliest transmission Kohlberg has not been without critics. Although his work is of unquestionable importance Peter s (1971) warned:

There is a grave danger that they (Kohlberg s findings) may become exhalted into a general theory of moral development may be seen by some to have been fulfilled.

Although Kohlberg s work is vast, the following will look at universality, briefly at gender and morality and following this methodology.

Kohlberg s Universality

The biggest challenge for Kohlberg s theory is to explain how the process of self-creation and mental structures can be universal despite cultural, subcultural and environmental differences that exist in all of us.

The principles of Kohlberg s stage 6 is of universal justice and respect for individual rights Kohlberg (1969, 1971).

Using his moral judgment interview he tried to address confounding factors of universality although latter admitted that the modal ages of any particular stage were variable.

Weinreich, Haste and Locke (1983) suggest this admission shows a failure to see moral judgment in a sufficiently broad socio-cultural context and a lack of appreciation to non-formalist ethical philosophies.

Thus cultural background is expected to influence not just substantive moral values and the integrity with which judgments are in fact acted upon ; it should affect the age norms for any particular transition stages and the stage ceilling in adulthood.

Eckensberger (1994), found that whilst stages 1 and 5 are rare (as is stage 6,) stages 2, 3 and 4 are found in many cultures. The highest stage scores have been found in Israeli Kibbutzim, followed by Germany, together with upper class groups from the US, Taiwan and India, the lowest scores are found in the Bahamas, Kenya, Papua and Turkey. In all these studies, levels of moral reasoning were assessed using Kohlberg s interview method. In recent studies an alternative method has been used in which pencil and paper tests designed for use with groups are used to present a number of predefined arguments from which participants are asked to choose the one they prefer or think most appropriate. Using this alternative method, people from South Korea, Taiwan and Greece score highest, while those from Belize, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago tend to score lower. Whilst there is substantial though by no means complete cross-cultural support of the stages revealed through interviews, Kohlberg also claimed that the moral issues (or content) contained in the dilemmas are universal and complete and the material in his official scoring manual is sufficient to score all kinds of responses. However, recent studies show that this is not so, there are cultural differences in moral themes.

The argument here would be that Kohlberg s universality is evident albeit at lower stages than he suggested.

Turnbull (1973) when studying subjects in Uganda found that although the practical morality of the culture was little more than stage 1, there was evidence to suggest that prior to western intervention the culture was at stage 3.

Little evidence was found for the support of hard stages beyond stage 3.

There is evidence that within non-westernised cultures that many adults can fail to show even concrete-operational intelligence in some tests. Harkness, Edwards and Super (1981) found when studying Kenyan villagers that not even the leaders gave responses above stage 3. Schweder (1991) proposes that Kohlberg failed to take account of social and cultural differences within non western cultures when imposing stage classifications.

Vine (1982) proposed the adequacy of conventional reasoning within these contexts takes even the limited sense in which Kohlberg calls his higher stages morally adequate to be both ethnocentric and even offensive.

Kohlberg s Gender and Morality

According to Carol Gilligan (1977, 1982), the essence of morality for women is not the same as for men. Different upbringings produce different moral orientations: (a) males are socialised to be independent and achievement orientated, so that they become preoccupied with issues such as fair return, equality of teammate and the application of abstract principles to resolve conflicts of interest; (b) females are socialised to be caring and nurturant and to maintain a sense of responsibly towards others. In terms of Kohlberg s theory, these are stages 4 and 3 respectively, which he has taken to mean that female s moral development is typically lower than males.

However, this comparison is fundamentally flawed because it is based on a male concern of morality (i.e. where justice is paramount). Not only was much of Kohlberg s early research carried out with male samples, but most of the dilemmas involve males as principal characters such as the fictitious Heinz, possibly making it easier for males to relate to them.

Again, Kohlberg sees ability to detach from the situation being judged as a measure of advanced morality, while the female role is organised around attachment and concern for other s welfare. Ironically, it seems that the very trait that has traditionally defined goodness for women (their care for, sensitivity to and responsibility towards others) makes them inferior to men in moral development. Instead of seeing female moral reasoning as deficient, Gilligan sees it as different (hence the title of her 1982 book, In a Different Voice) but largely ignored in the male dominated research into moral development.

In her own research, Gilligan interviewed 29 females, aged 15-33, all facing a significant real-life dilemmas, namely whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. The decision involved a conflict between (a) the right to personal choice and (b) the traditional association being femininity, self-sacrifice and caring for others. She identified three levels: self interest, self-sacrifice, and care as a universal obligation; the latter representing a balance between care for others and the well being of the self. It is this care orientated voice that Gilligan suggests Kolhlberg s theory fails to hear.

Holstein (1976) found when studying 13 and 16 years olds that there were little or no differences in stage scores between males and females. Woods (1996) suggests both Gilligan s and Kohlberg s views are polarized in a near sexist manner and that discussion needs to move away from sexual difference and look instead to integrating biological, religious and cultural differences.

Walker (1983) in a review of literature concerning over 70 studies found no evidence to support Gilligan s claim of sex bias.

He also refutes the fact that the characterisation of female morality as separate and different from male morality does not confuse the distinctive process of moral judgment with personality organisation in general.

Murphy and Gilligan (1980) unlike Walker (1983) showed when using the moral judgment interview that males scored approximately one half higher than females. This they suggested supported the claim of sex bias.

Kohlberg s Methodology

The most important part of any research is the method in which the data was collected.

There are 4 basic decisions that any research must take into consideration. Firstly the source of the data. In Kohlberg s choice there is a small set of hypothetical dilemmas followed by a semi structured interview.

Secondly, how you score the data, Kohlberg s scoring system has taken over a decade to develop.

Thirdly how to represent or index subject codes in a summary score. Lastly there must be a proposed validation strategy i.e. what studies are needed and what results need to be obtained in order to measure moral judgment.

Kholberg has relied on face validity, longitudinal change and internal consistency as the main grounds for claiming the validity of his assessment procedures, Rest (1979).

The dilemmas presented (see Appendix 2) cannot claim to represent the domain of all possible moral dilemmas and do not raise issues of wealth, power or opportunity Rest, (1979).

The problem with hypothetical dilemmas is that they are contrived artificial and out of the natural live s of the subjects.

Han (1978) found compatibility between hypothetical and real life dilemmas to be inconsistent and the evidence sparse although Damon (1977) found comparability.

Kohlbergs major research over the last decade has been to develop a new scoring system after identifying several problems. In Kohlbergs 1958 work two scoring systems were devised: one using the sentence or completed thought as the basic unit of analysis, the other global rating, using the subjects answers to a dilemma as the unit of analysis.

The former was found to be influenced by the use of concrete words and any reflected ideas were scored again and again if repeated.

This could lead of problems in classifying conflicting thoughts.

Another problem was that different aspects and topics could arise within a given dilemma.

A third problem is how explicitly must a participant state a problem to be credited with it and how deep or abstract should the analysis be?

The next problem is indexing the procedure, this involves highlighting some information at the expense of other information, emphasing some codes and de-emphasising other codes. This could lead to bias on the side of the interviewer.

Kohlberg proposed the subjects score is the highest stage that is entered throughout the test, where as Damon (1977) proposed a subjects score should be based on the extent to which the lower stages are rejected.

Distinction between stages was hard to find as indeed were the last stages themselves. Runice and Mosher (1967) found evidence of construct validity lacking as did Kurtines and Greif (1974).

Carroll and Rest (1981) on the other hand propose a subjects score is a continuous variable representing the weighted average of the extent of use of the various stages. This would suggest agreeance with Kohlberg.

Kohlberg uses a two step procedure which according to Rest (1979) is a reasonable one, he adds however when allocating a stage number to a subject we must not be led into assuming that the person had only one program of thinking in his or her head at a time.

The next part of the research to address is the validity and the criteria for validating a measure of moral judgment. Recently the Kohlberg group published the results of their new scoring procedure based on a longitudinal study of more than 20 years. The results showed spectacular correlation s for test re-test for reliability with impressive internal consistency with correlations being provided by Gibbs and Widammon (1982) Snavey, Reimer and Nisau (1982) and Walter (1980, 1983) on reflections of the study. This would support the validation of Kohlberg s new scoring system.

Education and Application

Kohlberg s work in curriculum education began eight years after the completion of his doctoral dissertation when he published his first article which proposed the possibility of developmental moral education. Kohlberg emphasised the need for teachers to engage in the presentation of genuine difficult moral conflicts and to communicate with students in such a way as to expose them to new cognitive elements.

He saw the need for the teacher’s level of moral verbalisations to match those of the children.

Willhelm (1977) found that teachers with lots of training as opposed to little generated more reasoning from participant responses thus inferring more than the teachers with less training when using the Moral Judgment interview causing inbalances between interviewers.

Kohlberg attributed his interest and subsequent work to the inspiration of Moshe Blatt and the Blatt effect J.S. Lemming (1981).

Blatt s work exposed children to the next stage level of their suggested current stage and after re-test at the next semester he found they had progressed to the next stage.

He used lengthy moral discussions to explore moral dilemmas and this is the approach Kohlberg adopted until 1978 when he shifted away from the discussion approach to the just community approach as a result of this previous Kohlberg statement becoming dated

Kohlberg now suggested that teachers should deal with moral dilemmas whereas before moral educators would wait until the student had reached stage 5.

In an experiment at a cluster school (where students have equal say to staff) E. Wassenman (1980) describes the new approaches as old wine in new bottles replacing hypothetical dilemmas with real life dilemmas with a focus on collective norms. Lemming (1974) found lower stage reasoning with problems that were dealt with as common problems instead of hypothetical dilemmas.

Gordon (1982) proposes that Kohlberg fails to appreciate the importance of the hidden curriculum, these are the characteristics of classroom life with which children have to come to terms with crowds, praise and power.

He proposed that Kohlberg s contribution could have been far greater if he had not underemphasized or ignored 4 aspects of the hidden curriculum. These are its unplanned and unintended dimension, its connection with the hidden cognitive curriculum, and its being constituted often of contradictionary message blocks which are open to counter hegemonic resistance.

It is these aspects according to Gordon (1982) that undermine Kohlberg s theory. Although he believes they can be incorporated into Kohlberg s framework. Giroux (1981) suggested that hidden curriculum messages may not be spotted by teachers, although often spotted by pupils, messages which imply dominant class hegemonic impositions. This is the governance and informal social relations of the school.

Conclusion

The universality of Kohlbergs stages is evident with the problem being the classification of the stages in regards to when they occur. The first stages being the most common I would suggest the latter being cultural based mainly as a result of western culture where higher quality of education would predict higher ability up to and beyond formal operations although this in no way excludes non western cultures. Thus it could be suggested that moral development is innate to a point where it is then shaped and concluded by the cultural context.

As far as the gender debate pioneered by Gilligan is concerned, there is little evidence to support this. If this were to be the case this without doubt would effect the main underpinning of Kohlbergs work which is undoubtedly not an issue.

Perhaps as we expand the characteristics of what we want moral judgment scores to do, we shall have to revise our notions about which features are important, and we may have to devise new ways of collecting information as well.

But at this time it is clear that Kohlberg and his associates have succeeded grandly in what they originally set out to do.

Overall, Kohlberg’s contribution to the study and practice of moral education is impressive. An understanding of the stages of moral reasoning is an important tool for teachers wishing to engage in meaningful moral dialogue with students.

Appendix 1

Kohlberg s Three Levels (Six Stages) of Moral Development

Moral Development

Level 1Pre-conventional Stage 1 (Punishment and Obedience orientation)What is right and wrong is determined by what is punishable and what is not if stealing is wrong, it is because authority figures say so and because they will punish it ( right makes right ). Moral action is essentially the avoidance of punishment. Stage 2 (Instrumental relativist orientation)What is right and wrong is determined by what brings rewards and what people want. Other people s needs and wants come into the picture, but only in a reciprocal sense ( you scratch my back, I ll scratch yours ).

Level 2:Conventional Stage 3 (Interpersonal concordance or good boy-nice girl orientation)Good behaviour is whatever pleases and helps others and doing what they approve of. Being moral is being a good person in your own eyes and those of others . What the majority things is right is right by definition. Stage 4 ( Law and order orientation)Being good means doing one s duty showing respect for authority and maintaining the social order (status quo) for its own sake. Concern for the common good goes beyond the Stage 3 concern for the welfare of one s family: society protects the rights of individuals, so society must be protected by the individual. Laws are unquestionably accepted and obeyed.

Level 3:Post-conventional Stage 5 (Social contract-legalistic orientation)Since laws are established by mutual agreement, they can be changed by the same democratic process. Although laws and rules should be respected, since they protect individual rights as well as those of society as a whole, individual rights can sometimes supersede these laws if they become too destructive or restrictive. The law should not be obeyed at all costs, e.g. life is more sacred than any legal principle. Stage 6 (Universal-ethical principles orientation)Moral action is determined by our inner conscience and may/may not be in agreement with public opinion or society s laws. What is right or wrong is based upon self-chosen, ethical principles which we arrived at through reflection they are not demanded by society as such. These principles are abstract and universal, such as justice, equality, the sacredness of human life and respect for human dignity; only if we act in accordance with them can we attain full moral responsibility.

Appendix 2

Summary of Hypothetical Dilemmas

Form A

1. Should Heinz steal an over price drug in order to save his dying wife?

2. Should Heinz be punished for stealing?

3. Should a boy refuse to give his father the map that Joe had earned himself in order to go to camp?

Form B

1. Should a doctor commit Euthanasia for a terminally ill patient who requests it?

Should a girl tattle on her sister who lied to her mother after the mother had broken a promise?

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