Teaching Ethics ‐A Direct Approach

Journal of Moral Education 19 (2):124-138 (1990)
Abstract
Abstract In this article it is argued that the moral dilemma discussion model usually relied upon in moral development research is not by itself an effective way to help students achieve principled moral reasoning. This goal is more effectively achieved by directly teaching in tandem the cognitive skills of logic, role?taking, and justice operations which have been clearly identified by theory and research as the constitutive elements of moral reasoning. The argument presents statistical data on the results of pre? and post?tests with the Defining Issues Test (DIT) of three variations of an ethics course design and two comparison groups over a five?year period. The ethics course design in its most intense form integrated the study of logic, developmental theory, and classic philosophic texts directly to target, teach and exercise the constitutive elements of moral reasoning and their application to controversial social issues. Changes in pre? and post?course DIT scores show effect sizes nearly double those of the most successful moral education projects previously reported in the literature. This article explains the intervention design, reviews the statistical data and compares the results with those achieved by other studies reviewed in the literature
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