Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Scotney Evans

Second Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Third Committee Member

Susan Mullane

Fourth Committee Member

Scott Ingold


This study addresses a growing concern of academic dishonesty in higher education based on the theory that an increase in moral development may lead to an increase in moral behavior. Students’ moral development and its relationship with student characteristics, co-curricular college experiences, and students’ level of involvement (degree of commitment) in those experiences were examined. Three research questions were posited: (1) What is the relationship between student background characteristics (sex, academic level, and age) and students moral development? (2) What is the nature of the relationship between undergraduate involvement in co-curricular experiences (student government association, Greek life, Greek life leadership, structured internship, and faculty mentored research) and moral development? (3) What is the nature of the relationship between the level of involvement in co-curricular college experiences and moral development? Data were analyzed from a convenience sample of college students gathered through an on-line electronic survey. Moral development was measured by the moral judgment score (N2 index) obtained through participant responses to the Defining Issues Test-2 (DIT-2) (Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau, & Thoma, 1999). The relationship between the independent variables and moral development was measured using independent samples t-tests, between-subject Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and general linear modeling. Two statistically significant findings were uncovered. Students who reported participation on a faculty mentored research project had higher levels of moral development (N2 index) than students who did not participate in this experience (p = .03); and sex showed statistically significant differences between males and females and moral development (N2 index) (p = .04). The findings suggest the need for more support of faculty members and their research projects to encourage student researchers. Evidence from this study shows college involvement through faculty member engagement plays a critical role in students’ moral development and lays the groundwork for further investigation of factors that may influence this relationship.


Co-Curricular Experiences; Moral Development