Kohl berg's Cognitive‐Developmental Theory in Educational Settings: Some Possible Abuses

Journal of Moral Education 6 (3):198-205 (1977)
Abstract Kohlberg's cognitive?developmental theory provides teachers with a framework for understanding the change and development of moral judgment and decision?making of their pupils. One major abuse, however, may be when teachers take the stage labels associated with the hypothesized stage levels of moral judgment as indicative of static student qualities or characteristics, by placing more emphasis on perceived and labelled qualities than on the actual moral reasoning of the student. This, it is suggested, together with some empirical examples, may obscure the developmental trend of the student's moral judgment or even affect the teacher's expectations and consequently student's performance, and fails to take into account such factors as environment and interpersonal interaction. A study is reported in which curriculum consultants exposed to moral development theory were tested to determine whether they would use Kohlbergian labels of stage content or actual moral reasoning when required to make assessments. Suggestions are put forward as to how moral development theory can be more closely linked to pedagogy
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DOI 10.1080/0305724770060307
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