Lawrence Kohlberg Moral Development. Colleen Anderson. Biography:. Born in 1927 in Bronxville New York His high school days were spent at Andover Academy in Massachusetts Before going onto college, he went oversees to help the Israeli cause.
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Kohlberg opposed the view of social scientists, namely that morality is “behavioral conformity to the more common rules of the individual’s culture.” He argued that this “conception of individual morality necessarily eliminates any special theoretical significance which could be assigned to the question of how moral attitudes develop.” Instead he considered morality to be the philosophic sense of JUSTICE. Also, he summarizes his ideal of justice as “giving each man his due.”
(Kohlberg Modes of Moral Thinking 14)
In his original study, Kohlberg presented seventy-two boys ages 10, 13, and 16 with several probing questions, moral dilemmas. He then engaged them in interviews to determine and evaluate their responses. From this study, Kohlberg constructed his stages of moral Development.
Later, Kohlberg conducted a twelve week research study to determine the effects of classroom moral discussion upon children’s level of moral development. This study comprised of thirty children at a Reform Jewish Sunday school ages 11 and 12. Eleven of these children were randomly selected for testing; six were boys and five were girls. To evaluate the affects, he compared his experimental group with three control groups of the same ages and social status.
Stage 1: The Punishment and Obedience Orientation
The person views an action as moral or immoral
depending solely on the physical consequences that
Stage 2: The Instrumental Relativist Orientation
Now, moral action seen in terms of reciprocity. The person thinks
an action an action is right only if it is fair. They will help another
person if they get something in return.
Stage 3: The Interpersonal Concordance or “Good Boy/Nice
People desire to be seen as good or nice; they want to please
others. They can see various aspects of a problem and want the
people involved to follow the “Golden Rule” or an ideal
Stage 4: Society Maintaining Orientation
People view moral behavior as respecting authority and fixed
rules. Also morality is no longer confined to relationships between
individuals but with individuals and society.
Post Conventional Level
Stage 5: The Social Contract Orientation
Moral action is based on individual rights that have been
agreed upon by the society. Personal values are relative.
People place emphasis on following laws but also consider
changing the laws for the benefit of society.
Stage 6: The Universal Ethical Principle Orientation
Morality is now defined by self chosen ethical principles
appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality, and
consistency. These principles are also abstract.
“Assuming that moral development passes through a natural sequence of stages, the approach defines the aim of moral education as the stimulation of the next step of development rather than indoctrination into the fixed conventions of the school, the church, or the nation”
(Kohlberg Moral Development 130-131)
“Contrary to what we usually think, it is quite easy to teach conventionally virtuous behavior but very difficult to teach true knowledge of the good.”
(Kohlberg Essays on Moral Development 47-48)
Arouse a genuine moral conflict and present modes of thought that are one stage above the child’s own to promote an advancement in moral development.
Are 7th grade students (ages 12-13) likely to show evidence of increased moral reasoning as a result of a discussion focused on a moral dilemma during which there are multiple perspectives offered?
Based on my reading of Lawrence Kohlberg, I hypothesize that the students who participate in a discussion of the moral dilemma that I present will advance from their current moral stage to the next while those students who do not participate will remain in their initial stage.
I went to the Holy Family of Nazareth School and had the 7th grade teacher hand out the dilemma questionnaire to her students.
I collected the questionnaires and analyzed them according to my rubric to decide how I should lead the discussion and see their initial stages in moral development.
I introduced myself and a friend, Jonny Wilder, to the class and randomly selected four boys and four girls to engage in a discussion based on the dilemma.
Jonny and I had a discussion with all eight students. Then, a week later we came back, and he had a discussion with the boys while I had a separate discussion with the girls.
I had the teacher hand out the dilemma questionnaire to the entire class again.
I evaluated the second set of questionnaires for changes in moral reasoning.
Joe was a 14 year old boy who wanted to go to camp very much. His father promised him he could go if he saved up the money for it himself. So, Joe worked hard at his paper route and saved up the $40 it cost to go, and a little besides. But just before camp was going to start, his father changed his mind about letting him go. His father’s friends had decided to go on a special fishing trip and Joe’s father was short the money it would cost him to go with them. So, he told Joe to give him the money he saved from the paper route. Joe didn’t want to give up going to camp so he thought of refusing to give his father the money.
Nick Bautista: age 13
Antonio Gonzalez: age 13
Carley Williams: age 13
Melissa Hantelmann: age 12
Bobje van Tilburg
Madison Straup: age 12
Caitlyn Hale: age 13
Nnaemeka: age 12
Tim Cruz: age 12
Arielle Melliza: age 13
Matthew Medina: age 12
Sarah Carmical: age 12
Maria Lynn: age 12
Jon Jon Valdez: age 13
Aaron Barker: age 13
Marco Sanchez: age 12
However, if I were to do this research again, I would want a larger study group for more reliable results. Also, I would want much more time so that I could conduct follow up tests in order to see if the children truly advanced in their own moral reasoning or if they were merely restating the views they heard in the discussion. Furthermore, I wish I had used another dilemma in addition to the Dad dilemma for the final test to also help determine if their moral reasoning actually developed.