Autonomy, Socialization, Strength Of Religious Belief And Socioeconomic Status As Predictors Of Moral Judgement In Associate Degree Nursing Students (southeast Florida, Education, Ethics)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education


Problem. This study sought to determine if strength of religious belief, socioeconomic status, autonomy, and socialization are predictive of levels of moral judgment in Associate Degree Nursing (A.D.N.) students. Growth in levels of moral judgment and differences in levels of moral judgment, autonomy, and socialization between males and females were also tested.Lawrence Kohlberg's Cognitive Development Model was the theoretical framework.Procedures. One hundred seventy-two A.D.N. students were given Rest's Defining Issues Test, the California Test of Personality, and a demographic questionnaire. The final sample consisted of 89 first, second and fifth semester students.Statistical Analyses. Chi square and descriptive analyses were conducted on the sample. Multiple regression was used to determine the significance of the predictor variables. Pearson r was used to determine the correlations between moral judgment and autonomy, socialization, and socioeconomic status. ANOVA was used to test the growth in moral judgment among first, second and fifth semester students. Pearson r followed by Fisher's z(,r) transformation tested the increase in the correlations of moral judgment with autonomy and with socialization from the first to the fifth semester. The independent t-test tested the differences between the sexes.Results. Moral judgment was significantly correlated with both autonomy and socialization. However, neither those correlations nor moral judgment increased significantly as students progressed through the curriculum. Autonomy was the only significant predictor of moral judgment, accounting for 6% of the variance. No significant differences existed between males or females in moral judgment, socialization, or autonomy. Neither socioeconomic status nor strength of religious belief was predictive of moral judgment.Conclusions and Recommendations. Of the variables studied, autonomy is the best predictor of moral judgment. High positive correlations between autonomy and socialization may account for the lack of additional prediction of this two variable model and may be particularly peculiar to those who select nursing as a career.Nurse educators should place greater emphasis on the teaching or moral decision making. Autonomy in nurses should be encouraged. Additional research is needed to determine effective teaching strategies in this area.


Health Sciences, Nursing

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