Change in Moral Judgment of Teaching Interns in a Full-Year Internship

By Oja, Sharon Nodie; Graham, Suzanne E. et al. | Journal of Research in Character Education, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Change in Moral Judgment of Teaching Interns in a Full-Year Internship


Oja, Sharon Nodie, Graham, Suzanne E., Andrew, Michael D., Journal of Research in Character Education


The goal of this study was to investigate how moral development changes over time for teacher education master's students during their year-long internship. Data on the Defining Issues Test-2 was collected at three points in time during the full-year teaching internships (beginning, end of first semester, and end of second semester). These longitudinal data were analyzed using multilevel modeling of change, finding that interns' change trajectories differed depending on the moral judgment schema being analyzed (personal interest, maintaining norms, or post-conventional). In addition, trajectories varied as a function of gender and GRE scores. In none of the fitted models was elementary versus secondary status statistically significant, nor did intern age have an effect on the position or slope of the growth trajectories.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

The goal of this study was to investigate how moral development changes over time for teacher preparation students during their year-long internship. It is important to study the moral judgment of teachers because there are links between moral reasoning and a number of desired teaching variables. Johnston (1989) found a positive relationship between moral reasoning scores and teachers' understanding of individualized instruction. Johnston also summarized a number of previous studies that led to the conclusion that moral developmental levels are related to teachers' understanding of curriculum, student-teacher roles, management issues, rules, and teaching practices. Chang (1994) and Cummings, Harlow, and Maddux (2007), in two comprehensive reviews of the research on moral development of teachers, have argued that teachers exhibiting higher levels of moral judgment are better able to advance student learning. Chang (1994) reviewed over 20 studies of teachers' moral judgment in the areas of discipline, teacher's role, relations with students, understanding of educational concepts, and performance. Representative of the findings, we summarize from four of the studies cited by Chang.

* Teachers using higher levels of moral judgment encouraged students to participate in making classroom rules, and these teachers were more willing to help students understand the reasoning for mies (Johnston & Lubomudrov, 1987).

* Teachers using higher levels of moral judgment viewed their roles as more democratic (MacCallum, 1993).

* Teachers using higher levels of moral judgment maintained more positive relations with students and better understood students' needs and feelings (Novogrodsky, 1977, as cited in Chang, 1994).

* Teachers using higher levels of moral judgment viewed curriculum from a broader social perspective with individual student's interests in mind (Wheaton, 1984).

O'Keefe and Johnston (1989) showed a connection between higher levels of moral reasoning and tolerance of diverse viewpoints, flexibility in teaching approaches, and finding alternative solutions. Oser's (1992) experimental study found that teachers using advanced moral judgment were more likely to encourage students to take multiple perspectives, and these teachers were more inductive in their teaching and more learner-centered.

Prior research has studied many aspects of the 5-year teacher education program, but none have looked specifically at moral judgment. In the literature reviews of empirical studies of teacher development in moral reasoning (e.g., Cummings et al. 2007; Reiman & Oja, 2006), there are no studies of preservice teaching interns from 5-year programs. Since there is little research in this area, a major contribution of the current study of moral judgment of teaching interns in a full-year internship is to extend what is known about the five-year program and to think about implications for other teacher education programs.

Cummings et al. (2007) reviewed studies of interventions for moral development with preservice teachers. …

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