The effects of cognitive moral development instruction on moral development scores of parochial high school students

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education

First Committee Member

Harold G. Bloland, Committee Chair


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of cognitive moral development instruction on students' moral reasoning development test scores.Design and procedures. The study utilized the Non-Equivalent Control Group Design developed by Campbell and Stanley (1969). A sample of 201 parochial high schools students was divided into Treatment and Non-Treatment groups, each completing an informational questionnaire and a pre- and post-test. Treatment consisted of classroom presentation of Kohlberg type situational dilemmas developed by a panel of experts of the parochial school system. Prior to, and upon conclusion of treatment, both subject groups were given the Defining Issues Test and developed by Rest. Pre- and post-test scores for both groups were compared by the Analysis of Variance technique. The T-Test technique was used to compare student moral development scores at each moral reasoning stage level. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation technique was used to determine the possible correlation of various demographic variables with student moral reasoning development stage level scores.Findings. (1) The analysis of variance between Treatment and Non-Treatment groups indicated no significant difference between the two groups' scores concerning total overall moral reasoning stage development (P score). (2) The T-Tests, comparing the two groups' performance on each stage level of moral reasoning development, indicated no significant difference regarding scores on any of the moral reasoning development stage levels. (3) The Pearson Product Moment Correlations indicated that various demographic factors did correlate with certain moral reasoning development stage levels.Conclusions. (1) Short-term application of Kohlberg's methods designed to increase cognitive moral reasoning development will not produce significant increases in cognitive moral reasoning development test scores of parochial high school students. (2) Personal demographic factors are related to changes in cognitive moral reasoning development stage levels of parochial high school students. Correlations were found to exist between demographic factors of sex, grade point average, parental educational level, parental religious affiliation, parental years of parochial education, parental plans to attend parochial college, subjects' religious affiliation, a majority of subjects' friends being of the same religious denomination of the subject, and the subjects' years of parochial education; did correlate with specific moral reasoning development stage levels. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)


Education, Educational Psychology

Link to Full Text