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What are they thinking?

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Title:
What are they thinking? moral reasoning in elementary children with emotionalbehavioral disorders
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Hardman, Elizabeth Long, 1949-
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English
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xi, 221 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

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Anger ( jstor )
Child development ( jstor )
Child psychology ( jstor )
Ethnicity ( jstor )
Moral development ( jstor )
Moral judgment ( jstor )
Morality ( jstor )
Pure reason ( jstor )
Reading comprehension ( jstor )
Reasoning ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Special Education -- UF ( lcsh )
Special Education thesis, Ph. D ( lcsh )
City of Gainesville ( local )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 210-219).
General Note:
Printout.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Elizabeth Long Hardman.

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WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
MORAL REASONING IN ELEMENTARY CHILDREN WITH
EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS











By

ELIZABETH LONG HARDMAN


















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2002

























Copyright 2002

by

Elizabeth Long Hardman























I dedicate this dissertation to a former student.

For William
A four-year-old who taught me about patience, persistence, and unconditional love













ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to recognize the contributions of the members of my dissertation

committee: Dr. Stephen W. Smith, Chair; Dr. David Miller; Dr. Hazel Jones; Dr.

Maureen Conroy; and Dr. Cecil Mercer. Dr. Smith's feedback was a critical element in

the preparation and funding of two grant applications, which ultimately provided valuable

support in the completion of the pilot and dissertation study. Dr. Miller's careful attention

to my research and data analysis procedures directed me down the straight and narrow

path of a competent, ethical researcher while, at the same time, providing patient teaching

to a novice investigator. I would also like to thank Dr. Jones, Dr. Conroy, and Dr.

Mercer, for offering me guidance and support as my doctoral program unfolded and the

Graduate School of Education, which provided financial support and words of

encouragement throughout my program.

I also owe a great deal of gratitude to the Spencer Foundation faculty who

provided valuable support in the early stages of the development of my study. Dr.

Michael Olneck from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Geneva Gay from

the University of Washington spent hours with me critiquing and challenging my

thinking as I defined the purposes of my study and developed my research hypothesis. In

addition, I give credit to Dr. Robert Enright, my national mentor at the University of

Wisconsin-Madison, for identifying the anger connection, which proved to be vital in

interpreting the relationship between children's experiences and the development of

moral orientation. Finally, I want to acknowledge the contribution of Michele Gregoire,








another Spencer Fellow representing the University of Florida. Michele patiently guided

me through the data analysis procedures and provided valuable feedback as I developed

my ideas.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the sacrifices made by my family in support

of my studies. My husband, Chris, spent many nights at home alone and was forced to

learn how to cook, clean, and maintain a household in my absence. My children, Emily

and Jack, supported my studies by patiently waiting for spring breaks and Christmas

holidays to receive any attention from their spiritually and physically absentee mother. I

could not have made it through the doctoral process without love and support from my

family.














TABLE OF CONTENTS
page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................... ..... ....... iv

LIST OF TABLES ................. .......................... ix

ABSTRACT ......................... .............. x

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM ........................ 1

Statement of the Problem ................................. 4
Current Approaches ................. .................. 4
The Student With EBD .................................. 7
The Cognitive-Developmental Approach ..................... 10
Purpose and Objectives of the Study ........................... 12
Rationale .............................................. 12
Cognition ........................................... 13
Behavior ...................... ................... 15
Emotion ........................................... 17
Definition of Terms .......................... ......... 20
Delimitations of the Study ................................... 24
Limitations of the Study .................................... 25
Summary ............................................... 25
Overview of the Remaining Chapters .......................... 27

II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .......................... 28

Theory Development ....................................... 28
Piaget's Theory ......................................... 29
Piaget's Study ............................. ........... 30
Kohlberg's Contribution .... ............................. 35
Relevant Research ....................................... 41
Evidence for Stages ..................................... 42
Evidence for Social Domains ............................. 46
Social Constructivists Challenges .......................... 49
A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral Education ....... 50
Review of Seven Independent Variables ....................... 52
Socioeconomic Status ..................... ............. 53









G rade ....................... .............. 54
Gender ............ ... ........................... 55
A nger ............................. ................... 57
Emotional/Behavior Disorders (EBD) ....................... 59
Ethnicity .......................... .. .............. 61
Reading Comprehension ...................... .. ..... .... 63
Sum mary ........................ ..................... 64

III METHOD ................... ........................ .68

Introduction to the Pilot Study ........................ ....... 68
Statement of Research Hypothesis .......................... 69
Research Design ..................................... 69
Setting and Participants ........................ ........ 70
Pilot Instrumentation.................. ..... ............ 73
Moral Theme Inventory ......................... ....... 73
Moral Dilemma Interview ............................... 74
Data Collection .......................... ............. 75
Moral Theme Inventory ................................ 75
Moral Dilemma Interview .................. .......... .. 76
Pilot Study Results ....................................... 81
Introduction to the Present Study .......................... 82
Statement of Research Hypothesis .......................... 83
Design ...................... ...................... 84
Sampling ................ ...... ........... ........... 85
Setting and Participants .................................. 88
Setting .............................................. 88
Participants ................. ........................ 88
Instrumentation ............................ .............. 90
Moral Theme Inventory .................................. 90
Moral Dilemma Interview ................................ 92
Feelings Questionnaire ................................. 93
Research Procedures ................. ..................... 96
Data Collection and Analysis .................. ........... 96

VI RESULTS ............................................. 99

Causal Comparative Results .................... ... ... ... .. 99
Bivariate Correlations ................................. 100
Simultaneous Multiple Regression .......................... 102
Case Study Results ........................................ 103
Issue Choice ......................................... 105
Moral Judgement ......................... ............. 107
M oral Orientation ....................................... 114
Summary of the Results .................................... 120









V DISCUSSION ............................ ............. 123

Overview of the Study ... .............................. 124
Summary of the Findings ................ ........ .......... 125
Discussion ... .................................. 126
Causal Comparative Results .................................. 127
Case Study Results .................................... 130
Relationships .......... .............................. 132
Just and Unjust Relationships ......................... 134
Feelings .. ....................... .................. 139
Moral Orientation ........................ ............. 144
Experience and the Development of Moral Orientation ............. 150
Limitations ........................................... 150
Implications .. ......................................... 153
Professional Practice ................... ............... 154
Teacher Preparation ..................... .... .......... 155
Future Research ............................ ............. 156

APPENDICES

A UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW......... 157

B RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS ............................... 164

Moral Theme Inventory ..................................... 165
Feelings Questionnaire ................................... 190
Moral Dilemma Interview ................................... 197

REFERENCES ............................................ 210

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................... 220








LIST OF TABLES


Table page

2.1 Piaget's Theory ...................................... 33

2.2 Kohlberg's Theory .................................... 41

3.1 Issues Presented in Eight Dilemmas ......................... 77

3.2 Norms Valued and Their Definitions ........................ 80

3.3 The Moral Elements .................................. 81

4.1 Means and Standard Deviations By Group and Grade .......... 100

4.2 Correlation Coefficients Among Seven Variables.............. 101

4.3 Simultaneous Multiple Regression Analysis .................. 103

4.4 Summary of Issue Choice By Group ........................ 106

4.5 Summary of Norms Valued By Interview for Typical Peers ...... 109

4.6 Summary of Norms Valued By Interview for Students with EBD 110

4.7 By Group Summary of Moral Elements and Value Elements ..... 114

4.8 Moral Orientation By Group .............................. 120












Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
MORAL REASONING IN ELEMENTARY CHILDREN WITH
EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS

By

Elizabeth Long Hardman

May, 2002

Chair: Stephen W. Smith
Major Department: Special Education

Moral education is the cornerstone of public education with the classroom

community providing the environment in which students learn to think and act as morally

responsible citizens. While most students seem to benefit from the moral lessons taught

in the classroom, students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) are placed in

special education specifically because they do not. Therefore, the purpose of this study

was to employ a cognitive-developmental approach to examine moral reasoning in 3",

4th, and 5"' grade students with EBD and their typical peers. Specifically, I collected and

analyzed data to address the following hypothesis. When accounting for the variables

gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading comprehension, socioeconomic status (SES),

atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship between

reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension and a significant negative

relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension.








Results of the correlation analyses showed that ethnicity, SES, reading

comprehension, and trait anger were significantly related to students' ability to

comprehend moral themes in stories. When accounting for all seven independent

variables, however, only trait anger was found to be a significant predictor of

respondents' scores. Case study results indicated that the reasoning of informants with

EBD and many of their typical peers with low SES appeared to be self-focused, while

only two middle-income typical peers voiced other-focused moral judgements. These

results seem to question the sufficiency of the developmental process to direct the

development of children's moral judgement and suggest that experience may play a more

influential role in its development.

Results indicate that the meaningful inclusion of all children in the learning

community may be vital to the formation of responsible citizens and may prevent the

development of EBD for some children. To understand the importance of including all

students in the learning community, preservice teacher preparation should include the

study ethics and preservice teachers should be given opportunities to participate in

democratic learning communities. Future research should include rigorous inquiries into

the causal relationships among behavior, emotion, and moral judgement, but such

inquiries will require the development of valid measures of emotion, behavior, and moral

judgement.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM

Moral education is the cornerstone of America's public education system.

Historian Edward McClellan (1999) described the moral education of America's children

as an "article of faith" central to the creation of the public education and, in 1916,

philosopher John Dewey proclaimed schools as environments framed with the expressed

purpose of shaping children's mental and moral dispositions. Although moral education

was originally conceived as an extension of the moral training children received at home

(McClellan), modem supporters of moral education charge that the school, not the

family, bears the responsibility for developing a moral citizenry. According to Emile

Durkheim (1961)

[T]he general principle that the domain of the genuinely moral life only
begins where the collective life begins--or, in other words, that we are
moral beings only to the extent that we are social beings. (p. 64) ... The
family, especially today, is a very small group of persons who know each
other intimately and who are constantly in contact with one another. As a
result, their relationships are not subject to any general, impersonal,
immutable regulation. (p. 147)

Hence, the classroom community becomes an appropriate, naturally occurring context in

which students can learn to think and act as morally responsible citizens.

While most students seem to benefit from the moral lessons experienced in the

classroom community, students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) are placed in

special education specifically because they do not (Kauffman, 1995). Since 1987, the

number of students with EBD has increased by 20% and most of this increase occurred








during the elementary school years (Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP],

1998). Moreover, researchers warn that these figures may significantly underestimate the

actual prevalence of EBD among elementary school children (Kauffman). In a recent

report, OSEP addressed the import of this alarming trend by admonishing, "Failure to

address the needs of students with emotional disturbance is a portent for poor community

results as well as poor academic results" (OSEP, Section II, Module 5, p. 41). The

growing number of students who develop EBD during the elementary school years and

the ensuing adverse individual and community consequences enjoin continued focused

attention on the problem and its possible solutions.

Evidence suggests, however, that the school may be falling short of its

responsibility to develop moral citizens when it come to the education of students with

EBD. The warning signs of emerging antisocial behavior patterns are often present at the

point of school entry and appear to be elaborated, not remediated, during the elementary

school years (Golly, Sprague, Walker, & Groham, 2000). For example, young children

who present significant behavior problems at age 3 or 4 have a 50:50 probability of

continuing to show behavior problems as they mature (Webster-Stratton, 1997). In fact,

researchers have found that the stability of aggressive and antisocial behavior, a common

characteristic of students with EBD, is equal to that of IQ and provides the single best

predictor of delinquency in adolescence (Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995).

Researchers project that failure to meet the moral and mental development needs

of young children who exhibit antisocial and aggressive behavior may result in serious,

life-altering consequences (Walker et al., 1995). The first of these life-altering

consequences may occur when the child is designated eligible for a special education








program for students with EBD. Although the general education classroom has become

the primary educative context for the general population of students with disabilities,

students with EBD are more likely to be placed in the most restrictive educational

settings (OSEP, 1998). For example, recent OSEP figures indicate that 55% of all

students with disabilities are served in the general education classroom, but only 26% of

students with EBD are included in the classrooms with their typical peers. Although 18%

of all children with disabilities are served in special classrooms and only 2% are served in

special facilities, 40% of students with EBD are served in separate classes and 12% are

sequestered from the mainstream in special facilities. Moreover, as elementary students

with EBD continue through school and beyond, their chances of reentering the general

education classroom are slim (Kauffman, 1995) and they bear an increased risk for a

variety of long term negative consequences such as school dropout, low employment

rates, drug and alcohol abuse, relationship problems, higher hospitalization and mortality

rates (Walker et al., 1995), and incarceration (U.S. Department of Education, 1994).

Researchers advise early intervention as a critical element in the prevention and

effective treatment of EBD, but state that students with EBD are not benefiting from

early intervention and prevention because serious emotional/behavioral problems are not

identified early enough to prevent the chronic and likely life-long disability of EBD (e.g.,

Forness, Kavale, MacMillan, Asarnow, & Duncan, 1996; Kauffman, 1995) and general

and special classroom environments are not adequate to meet the needs of children who

present serious emotional/behavioral problems (e.g., Kauffman, Lloyd, Baker, & Riedel,

1995). Moreover, researchers warn that some children will develop EBD in spite of








educators' best efforts at early intervention and prevention (Landrum & Tankersley,

1999; Webster-Stratton, 1997).

Statement of the Problem

The classroom community may be falling short of its commission to positively

influence the moral education of elementary students with EBD. The task, however, is

complex and difficult to realize. An emotional/behavioral disorders is a multifaceted

disability whose dimensions and developmental course are not clearly understood

(Kauffman, 1995). Therefore, the sometimes elusive task of positively influencing their

social behavior underscores the need to reexamine current approaches to the moral

education of students with EBD and to explore the promise of employing a previously

unexplored paradigm, the cognitive-developmental approach, to advance current

knowledge and to improve practice.

Current Approaches

Special education programs for students with EBD began to develop rapidly in the

late 1950s and early 1960s. During this time, researchers focused their efforts on the

effectiveness of behavioral approaches that employed the principles of conditioning and

learning to develop prosocial behavior in students with EBD (Kauffman, 1995). In the

1980s, behavioral models evolved into more sophisticated integrative approaches that

address the realities of children's affective and cognitive experiences by exploring the

effects of consequences on shaping behavior, thoughts, and affect (Kauffman). As a

result, cognitive-behavioral approaches have recently gained prominence, especially in

the study of aggression and antisocial behavior (Furlong & Smith, 1994; Kassinove,

1995).








Cognitive-behavioral researchers look to distorted cognition (Beck, 1976; Dodge

& Coie, 1987; Ellis, 1995,) and/or social skill deficits (Davis & Boster, 1992;

Deffenbacher & Swaim, 1999; Lochman, 1992; Spivack, Platt, & Shure, 1976) as sources

of maladaptive behavior. The practical aim of this approach, therefore, is to replace

distorted/deficit cognitive schemas with more effective ones through modeling, verbal

rehearsal, practice, and feedback (e.g., Smith, Siegel, O'Connor, & Thomas, 1994). In

addition, practitioners are encouraged to employ techniques such as self-instructional

training, self-talk, and role play to facilitate the remediation and to enhance

generalization to other settings (e.g., Lockman, Lampron, Gemmer, & Harris, 1987).

Consistent with behavioral approaches, however, the learner is portrayed as a passive

participant and the environment is "a major source of influence on behavior" as a result

of biological "processes that are collectively called conditioning or learning" (Johnston &

Pennypacker, 1993, p. 4).

During this same time period, proponents of behavior analytic approaches also

began to shift their focus toward examining thoughts as private events shaped by the

principles of conditioning and learning. These researchers took aim at the communicative

intent of maladaptive behavior as well as its environmental triggers to explain the

functional relationship between behavior and its consequences. As a result, functional

assessment gained such prominence in the treatment of EBD that the 1997 amendments

to IDEA require functional behavioral assessments for any student with a disability who

exhibits maladaptive behavior (e.g., Armstrong & Kauffman, 1999). The outcome of the

functional assessment is a behavior intervention plan that represents the school's good







6

faith effort to maintain students with disabilities in the general education classroom (Yell,

1998).

Over the last fifty years, researchers have found both behavioral and cognitive

behavioral approaches to be effective in shaping prosocial behavior in students with

behavioral problems (cf. Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Robinson, Smith, Miller, & Brownell,

1999). Nevertheless, researchers have also defined several important limitations to these

approaches (Webster-Stratton, 1997). When practically applied, researchers have found

that (a) many teachers are opposed to some behavior modification procedures (e.g.,

Kazdin & Cole, 1981), (b) behavior shaped using the principles of behavior modification

may not generalize to natural settings (e.g., Cullinan, Epstein, & Lloyd, 1991; Kauffman,

1995), (c) functional assessment may be too difficult to implement in classrooms (e.g.,

Katsiyannis & Maag, 1998), (d) some cognitive-behavioral approaches may be too

sophisticated for young children (Webster-Stratton), and (e) behavioral and cognitive-

behavioral approaches may not alter the environment that is nurturing the development of

EBD (e.g., Webster-Stratton).

Additionally, researchers have found that classrooms are not characterized by the

kind of positive strategies known to be effective in shaping prosocial behavior; therefore,

they speculate that the classroom environment itself may contribute to the development

ofEBD (e.g., Kauffman et al., 1995). For example, teachers frequently become highly

critical of misbehaving students, thereby engaging in coercive power struggles. As a

result, teachers fall victim to negative reinforcement traps and may unintentionally

perpetuate undesirable behavior (e.g., Jack et al., 1996; Webster-Stratton, 1997). For this

reason, researchers suggest that some approaches based on behavioral principles may be






7

inappropriate for classroom settings (e.g., Jack et al.; Repucci & Saunders, 1974; Shores,

Gunter, Denny, & Jack, 1993; Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993; Winett & Winkler, 1972).

The Student With EBD

The emotional and behavioral concomitants of EBD are explicit in the

nomenclature, but, according to the federal definition, EBD is a multifaceted, complex

disorder that involves maladaptive behavior, disordered affect, or disorder cognition

(Kauffman, 1995). According to federal law, students with EBD are characterized by one

or more of the following: (a) an inability to learn which cannot be explained by

intellectual, sensory, or health factors, (b) an inability to maintain satisfactory

interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, (c) inappropriate types of behavior or

feelings under normal circumstances, (d) a general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or

depression, and (e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with

person or school problems (Individuals with Disabilities Act [IDEA], 1997). Therefore,

to understand the student with EBD, one must examine how these behavioral, emotional,

and cognitive components are manifested in the disorder.

Behavior. According to Kauffman (1995), EBD is partially represented in

maladaptive behavior that is discordant with social-interpersonal environments and

precludes opportunities for gratifying social interactions and experiences of self-

fulfillment. Externalizing disorders such as attention and activity disorders and conduct

disorders make up the most prevalent types of EBD and characteristically include

maladaptive behavior in the form of aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior

(Kauffman; Kauffman, Culllinan, & Epstein, 1987). Aggressive, disruptive, antisocial

students arouse negative feelings and induce negative behavior in others, resulting in








social rejection and alienation from adults and peers alike. In fact, the behavior of these

students can be so unreasonable that others sometimes perceive their motives as

purposefully seeking punishment or rebuke (Kauffman). As members of the classroom

community, teachers regard children with externalizing disorders to be the most difficult

to teach, the least likable (Kauffman & Wong, 1991), and a threat to the development of a

secure, safe classroom environment (Langdon, 1997).

Emotion. Federal law portrays the disordered affective component of EBD as

"physical symptoms or fears" or "a general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or

depression," suggesting that depression and/or anxiety are the primary affective

characteristics of EBD. Although depression and anxiety are frequent emotional

concomitants of internalizing disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety

disorders, clinical depression, and schizophrenia (Kauffman, 1995), researchers

commonly recognize anger as the underlying affective component of externalizing

disorders (Walker et al., 1995). Anger in children, however, has received little attention

from the research community (e.g., Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992).

Anger and cognition are mysteriously woven together in the existing research

literature. Novaco (1975) conceived a reciprocal relationship between cognition and

anger. Current models, however, portray anger as a mediating influence between

distorted/deficit cognition and aggressive behavior. For example, cognitive-behavioral

researchers treat aggression by reducing attributional biases of hostile intent (e.g., Dodge

& Coie, 1987; Fortman & Feldman, 1994; Lochman et al., 1987) and cognitive

distortions (e.g., Ellis, 1995), while behavior analytic researchers seek to identify and

change the objective elicitor and consequences of anger (Kassinove & Sukhodolsky,








1995). If, however, the relationship between anger and cognition is reciprocal, then

current approaches appear to be limited because they do not allow for anger as a justified

response to an unjust, hurtful situation. From this perspective, anger might precede

disordered cognitive functioning and aggressive, disruptive, and/or antisocial behavior

(Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). In fact, Kassinove and Sukhodolsky state that to

understand anger, researchers "would be wise to learn how people form their

conceptualizations of how their friends, family members, colleagues, and others should

act" (p. 24).

Cognition. Although maladaptive behavior and disordered affect are described as

defining manifestations of EBD, they are not the only determining characteristic.

According to the federal definition disordered cognition is also an influential determinant

ofEBD (Kauffman, 1995). For example, the definition describes EBD "as an inability to

learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors," "the inability to

build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships," "inappropriate behavior or

feelings under normal circumstances," "a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or

depression," and "a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears." Thus, by

definition, EBD appears to be deeply rooted in the cognitive domain.

Present conceptions of best practice in the education of students with EBD

suggest that remediation of distorted/deficit thinking processes is necessary to mitigate

the cognitive dysfunction inherent in EBD (Kauffman, 1995). In other words, the child's

thinking must be remediated because the child's reality is distorted. In contrast, the

cognitive developmental approach targets the child's reasoning as a lived reality,

constructed as the child perfects tentative solutions for a problematic situations (Dewey,








1916/1944). Therefore, the child's reasoning reflects a complex interaction between

judgement and action (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and provides

knowledge about the bearings, uses, and causes of the situation as the child knows it to be

(Dewey). Overt behavior influences judgement; judgement influences behavior (Colby &

Kohlberg). Both the child and the environment become actors in the meaning making

process.

The Cognitive-Developmental Approach

Current issues and trends in the education of students with EBD enjoin a

heightened level of attention to the empirical and conceptual foundations of special

education (Kauffman, 1995). By employing a cognitive-developmental approach,

researchers are provided an opportunity to conceptualize and examine EBD from a

previously unexplored perspective. From this perspective, researchers can study the

thinking of students with EBD as an expression of a subjective reality, couched in the

developmental process (Coby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). As a result,

researchers might extend current knowledge about EBD and its treatment and, at the

same time, broaden the conceptual foundations of special education.

Piaget (1932/1965), the father of cognitive-developmental psychology (Siegler,

1998), advised that if we want to form moral men and women, we must study the laws

that govern their formation. With this advice, he enjoined researchers to begin the inquiry

by examining the development of morality in children. Piaget argued that a child's

actions do not reveal the child's motivations and urged researchers to move beyond

merely observing how precise the child is in respecting rules and examine "how [the

child] judges of [sic] good and evil in the performance of his own action" (p. 117). How








children think and feel about their behavior is as much a part of social behavior as is the

most overt cooperative or hostile act (Dewey, 1916/1944). The relationship between

reasoning and behavior, however, continues to be obscure (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

Moreover, Piaget asserted that "Difficult children, whom parents and teachers send or

ought to send up for psycho-therapeutic treatment, supply the richest material for

analysis" (p. 112).Yet only two studies (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997) have been

published that examined the reasoning processes of elementary children with EBD.

According to Higgins (1995), the guiding assumption of cognitive-developmental

theory is that children create knowledge as a result of a bi-directional relationship

between thinking and experience. From this perspective, the child is portrayed as an

active participant in the creation of a subjective reality whose dimensions are described in

the child's verbal reasoning. Therefore, moral development researchers study children's

verbal reasoning because it can provide insight into past experiences and thinking, as well

as present perceptions of how actions and consequences are connected.

The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to

examine the relationships among cognition, emotion, and behavior. I included elementary

aged students because the number of students with EBD seems to increase rapidly during

the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3" 5t grade present the best opportunity for

intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary years provide a

context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965).

Because the population of students with EBD is characterized by a disproportionate

number of African American males and students with low SES (Kauffman, 1995), I

included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also included reading








comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional variable, and the

student's grade in school to gauge developmental change.

Purpose and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the present study is examine moral reasoning in 3rd, 4h, and 5'h grade

students with EBD using a cognitive developmental approach. The results should provide

valuable information about the developmental course of moral reasoning in elementary

children with EBD and provide depth to current understanding about the relationships

among moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and disordered behavior.

Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following research hypothesis:

When accounting for the variables gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading comprehension,

SES, atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship

between reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension and a significant

negative relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension.

Rationale

The purpose of the present study is to provide depth to current understanding

about the relationships among moral reasoning, trait anger, and disordered behavior by

examining how moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD differs from that of

typical peers. Because EBD is a complex disability, it presents a unique opportunity to

increase knowledge about the relationships among behavior, emotion, and cognition.

Although only a few researchers have examined moral reasoning in elementary children

with EBD (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997, Hardman & Smith, 2001), many have

examined moral reasoning in typical populations of elementary children charting its






13

developmental course (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and evaluating

the influence of culture (e.g., Gilligan, 1982; Shweder, Nahapatra, & Miller, 1987).

Cognition

Piaget (1932/1965) described changes in children's moral reasoning as a

cognitively structured, maturational progression. Subsequent research, however, has

demonstrated that poverty (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a), reading comprehension (Narvaez,

Gleason, Mitchell, & Bently, 1999), gender (Gilligan, 1982) and ethnicity (Edwards,

1987) may also influence the structural characteristics and maturational progression of

moral reasoning. Interestingly, students with EBD are overly represented by low

socioeconomic, African American males and as a population exhibit a slower rate of

achievement (Kauffman, 1995). Therefore, a review of researchers' findings regarding

the relationships among reading comprehension, poverty, SES, and ethnicity and moral

reasoning is warranted.

Reading comprehension. Studies of moral reasoning in the general population and

cross-culturally suggest that low achieving individuals will also exhibit depressed or

stagnant maturation in moral reasoning. For example, in a longitudinal study of moral

judgement in U.S. males, Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) found that

although age accounted for 60% of the variance in scores, there was also a moderate

relationship between the maturation of moral judgement and achievement. Further

examination of the results revealed, however, that differences in IQ and SES seemed to

control the strength of this relationship; therefore, the relationship between achievement

and moral reasoning appeared to be mediated through IQ and SES differences.








Recently, Narvaez and her coauthors (1999) studied moral reasoning in 3r, 5 ,

and university students by assessing their ability to understand themes of cooperation in

moral stories. Narvaez and her colleagues found that reading achievement and reading

comprehension were significantly related to participants' understanding of moral themes

of cooperation; however, when reading comprehension was controlled, the relationship

between moral theme comprehension and maturation remained significant. Therefore,

these authors concluded that while moral theme comprehension is related to reading

comprehension, participants' understanding of moral themes of cooperation seems to

require something beyond reading comprehension.

Socioeconomic status (SES). Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987)

found that individuals who live in poverty reason at lower stages of maturation. These

authors interpreted the finding of social class differences in rate and terminus of

development in moral reasoning as a reflection of differential participation in and

identification with society and its institutions. Differential participation in social

institutions creates differential role-taking opportunities for middle-class and working

class children. Therefore, individuals from the middle class experience the role of

cooperative participants in society and, as a result, develop a social system perspective

that characterizes higher stages of reasoning (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). In a pilot study

of moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD, Hardman and Smith (2001) found a

significant difference in the ability of students with low SES to detect moral themes in

stories when compared with peers from middle and upper income families. Because SES

and EBD were confounded, these authors reached no conclusions regarding the influence

of EBD on moral reasoning. These findings seem to support the hypothesis that poverty







15

presents circumstances in which democratic education may be inconsistently applied and

opportunities for developing a moral disposition may be differentially perceived (Colby

& Kohlberg; Dewey, 1916/1944).

Gender/culture. Social constructivists propose the development of moral

reasoning as an entirely social phenomenon, arguing that the norms and values that guide

a child's moral reasoning are culturally dependent (Kurtines & Gewirtz, 1995).

Furthermore, social constructivists charge that stage theories preference the

individualistically focused values and norms of Western cultures and relegate reasoning

that preferences communitarian ideals to lower developmental stages (e.g., Brown,

Tappan, & Gilligan, 1995; Gilligan 1982; Shweder et al., 1987). For example, Gilligan, a

feminist critic of stage theories, found that moral reasoning in females is more likely to

be grounded in communitarian ideals that are nurtured by women's unique cultural role

as care givers. She argued that the Piagetian/Kohlbergian framework misinterprets the

stage development represented in a communitarian orientation as deficient when, in fact,

this orientation is only different.

Behavior

The nature of the relationship between reasoning and behavior in children under

the age of 12 is, for the most part, unexplored territory. Piaget (1932/1965) hypothesized

that children's moral reasoning represents a gradual coming into consciousness of past

actions; therefore, moral reasoning must lag behind moral action. Moreover, Colby and

Kohlberg (1987a) conjectured that as individuals attain more mature stages of reasoning,

they are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of moral behavior. These researchers

explained that the principles that guide higher stages of moral reasoning (e.g., it is wrong








to harm others) are unalterable and universal; therefore, moral relativism is not possible

and moral action ensues. Principled reasoning obligates moral behavior. On the other

hand, moral realism premised on conventional morals (i.e., cultural rules about dress,

sexual behavior, social behavior) encourages moral relativism because conventional

morals may be altered to suit the egoistic demands of a situation. Thus, conventional

morality is not always obligatory (Colby & Kohlberg).

According to Gibbs (1995), egocentric biases and moral realism are the primary

indicators of lower stages of moral reasoning and appear to be natural to early childhood.

The persistence of egocentrism into adolescence, however, may render the individual at

high-risk for serious antisocial behavior. Because egocentrism precludes meaningful

perspective taking, egocentric biases preempt any consideration for the expectations and

feelings of others. Therefore, egocentric, antisocial adolescents can develop moral

realism (rule oriented behavior) only with respect to their own needs, wants, and desires.

When compliance does not meet selfish needs, rule breaking is justified. Their thinking is

similar to that of a five-year-old, but because their size, needs, and level of freedom are

vastly different, egocentric biases in their moral reasoning present a clear danger.

Hardman and Smith (2001) examined moral reasoning in 21 students with EBD

and found that these students experienced greater difficulty comprehending moral themes

in stories than did their typical peers. This finding was supported and elaborated as a

result of an analysis of moral dilemma interviews with three students selected from the

participant sample of students with EBD. As a result, these authors found informants'

moral judgements to be replete with expressions of moral realism and egocentric biases.

The authors caution, however, that EBD and SES were confounded; therefore, the effects








for EBD could not be evaluated independent of the effects for SES. This finding bears

preliminary theoretical and empirical significance about the relationship between moral

reasoning and behavior and warrants further inquiry (Hardman & Smith).

Emotion

Anger. In most cases, anger is assumed to underlie the observable antisocial,

aggressive, and disruptive behaviors that limit social interactions of elementary students

with EBD (Kauffman, 1995; Walker et al., 1995). Aggressive, disruptive, antisocial

behavior arouses negative feelings and induces negative behavior in others, resulting in

social rejection and alienation from adults and peers (Kauffman). Anger, therefore,

appears to provide a motivational limit to the moral socialization of many students with

EBD (Gibbs, 1995).

Definition. Anger is a complex emotion (e.g., Deffenbacher & Swaim, 1999) that,

until recently, has received little attention from the research community (e.g., Boekaerts,

1993; Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992; Murphy & Eisenberg, 1996). Anger is defined as an

emotional response to perceived threats, insults, frustration, injustice (Lehnert,

Overholser, & Spirito, 1994), intentional harm (Levine, 1995) or conflicts (Murphy &

Eisenberg) and may represent a temporary emotional state or a personality trait (Jacobs,

Phelps, & Rohrs, 1989). Students with externalizing disorders may experience such

intense chronic anger that their angry feelings reach beyond state anger and may signify

an anger disorder (Kassinove, 1995) or personality trait (e.g., Deffenbacher, Lynch,

Getting, & Kemper, 1996; Walker et al. 1995), thereby adversely affecting the quality of

a child's social interactions.







18

Anger, however, is not always a sign of disordered affect. On the contrary, anger

may represent a normal emotional response in many instances. For example, anger is a

common denominator in situations in which children believe their personal values,

including those of fairness and justice, are challenged (Boekaerts, 1993) and represents a

culturally normative response to discrimination and injustice for minority youth

(Stevenson, Reed, Bodison, & Bishop, 1997). Conversely, years of discrimination and

injustice may also result in such serious assaults on personal values that perceptions of

injustice may become a source of intense, destructive trait anger (Chan, 1994).

Anger and other emotions. Recent research aimed at clarifying the relationship

between anger and other emotions has defined anger as a mysterious, complex emotion

that may play an instrumental role in the developmental course of other emotions, such as

depression (Berkowitz, 1990; Clay, Anderson, & Dixon, 1993; Enright & Fitzgibbons,

2000; Heavey, Adelman, Nelson, & Smith, 1989; Levine, 1995) and anxiety

(Deffenbacher et al., 1996; Hains & Szyjakowski, 1990). For example, Enright and

Fitzgibbons highlight cases in which anger emerges as an intense response to extreme

circumstances of injustice such as sexual, physical, or mental abuse and represents a

precursor to the onset of intense depression, poor health, and antisocial behavior.

Moreover, these authors argue that, in these cases, anger must be resolved before the

destructive emotional, physical, and behavioral expressions of anger can be effectively

addressed.

Anger and cognition. Cognitive models of emotion suggest that people's emotions

depend less upon actual events and more upon people's interpretations of those events

(e.g., Dodge & Coie, 1987; Levine, 1995); therefore, children's use of morally relevant








information may be an important moderating influence on children's tendencies to

become angry. Simply stated, the expression of anger signals moral judgement (Olthof,

Ferguson, & Luiten, 1989). For example, researchers have found that (a) violent children

show lower empathy and insight, leading to concerns over issues of fair play and evoking

aggressive responses (Davis & Boster, 1992), (b) ego development seems to be inversely

correlated with sadness and anger in emotionally disturbed adolescents (Hauser & Safyer,

1994), (c) students diagnosed as having significant learning disabilities exhibit higher

levels of anger and misbehavior when compared to those without learning problems

(Heavey et al., 1989), and (d) children who exhibit externalizing disorders become

aggressive because they misinterpret the intentions of others and are unable to manage or

cope with the situation in appropriate ways (e.g., Deffenbacher et al. 1996; Lockman,

1992).

Anger and socialization. Researchers have found evidence to indicate that there is

a significant relationship between anger and social competency. For example, Murphy

and Eisenberg (1996) examined the angry conflicts of 108 elementary aged children and

found that social competency predicts anger intensity even when controlling for sex, age,

and causes of angry conflicts. Downey, Lebolt, Rincon, and Freitas (1998) studied

rejection sensitivity and its relationship to anger and found that poor and minority

children who angrily expected social rejection behave more aggressively, experience

increased interpersonal difficulties, and decline in academic learning over time.

Moreover, Fabes and Eisenberg (1992) found that young children who were relatively

low in social status and competence seemed to "invite" aggressive rejecting conflict and








that popular, socially competent children were less likely to be involved in angry

conflicts.

Definition of Terms

Accommodation

Accommodation refers to the way in which individuals adapt their ways of

thinking when presented with new experiences. For example, an extreme case of

accommodation is imitation (Siegler, 1998).

Assimilation

Assimilation is the way individuals transform or interpret information to fit within

their existing way of thinking. If individuals are not able to understand new information

in concert with existing ways of thinking, then they cannot form a meaningful

representation of the new material. An extreme case of assimilation is fantasy play.

Accommodation cannot be present without assimilation and vice versa (Siegler, 1998).

Autonomous Morality

Autonomous morality is characterized by an independent, self-legislative stance

when making moral judgements (Piaget, 1932/1965).

Cognitive-Developmental Approach

The cognitive-developmental approach posits that an individual's thinking

undergoes a series of transformations as a result of an interaction between heredity and

experience (Kertines & Gerwitz, 1995). These transformations occur in universal,

invariant stages (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a) and are facilitated by the basic

developmental processes of assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration (Siegler,

1998).








Constructivism

Constructivism refers to individuals' ability to construct meaning for themselves

by thinking about and acting on the world. When individuals invent or construct new

responses to each novel situation, the form of the meaning constructed is constrained by

the individual's current developmental level. Therefore, the present mode of construction

is an outgrowth of the prior mode. Individuals cannot simply internalize higher stage

reasoning, but instead are only able to move forward to the logical next step of cognitive

reorganization (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

Distributive Justice

Distributive justice means to deal an equal, proper share to each group or

individual (Piaget, 1932/1965).

Deontic Reasoning

Deontic reasoning refers to what is right or duty bound and does not encompass

other types of ethical judgements such as judgements of moral worth or virtue of

particular persons or actions, judgements about the goodness of lifestyle, or judgements

about ideals of the good life (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

Egocentrism

Egocentrism refers to a way of thinking about the external world in terms of one's

own perspective. This psychological limitation can be found in the thinking of many

children between the ages of 2 and 7 (Siegler, 1998).








Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD)

Emotionally disturbed is defined as follows:

(i) The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following
characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which
adversely affects educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual,
sensory, or health factors; (B) An inability to build or maintain
satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; (C)
Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal
circumstances; (D) A general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or
depression; or (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or
fears associated with personal or school problems.
(ii) The term includes children who are schizophrenic. The term does not
include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that
they are seriously emotionally disturbed. (34 C.F.R. 300.7 [b][9][1997])

Equilibration

Equilibration refers to the overall interaction between existing ways of thinking

and new experience. It is the essential element of developmental change. Equilibration

involves a three-phase process. First, equilibration is represented in a state of satisfaction

with present modes of thought. Then, the individual becomes aware of shortcomings in

their existing thinking and is dissatisfied. Finally, through assimilation and

accommodation, the individual adopts a more sophisticated mode of thought that

eliminates the shortcomings of the old one; that is, the individual reaches equilibrium

(Siegler, 1998).

Expiatory Punishment

Punishment employed to extract payment from wrong doers for their bad behavior

(Piaget, 1932/1965).

Heteronomous Morality

Moral behavior that is subject to external forces or controls (Piaget, 1932/1965).








Moral Dilemma

A moral dilemma is a story that poses a conflict in values. Perceptions and ideas

generated in response to moral dilemmas represent the individual's constitutive

knowledge about the bearings, uses, and causes of the situation (Dewey, 1916/1944).

For example, the Heinz dilemma is a story about a man who must steal drug to save his

wife's life. Hence, this story poses a conflict between the value of preserving life and the

value of upholding the law (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

Moral Judgement

A moral judgement is an imperative derived from some rule or principle of action

that the speaker believes is binding on his own actions. Moral judgements include (a)

judgements of value, not fact; (b) social judgements involving people; (c) prescriptive or

normative judgements, and (d) value judgements of rights and responsibilities, rather than

value judgements of liking and preference (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

Moral Reasoning

To perfect a tentative solution for a problematic situation, individuals will

carefully scrutinize existing conditions and the implications of various hypotheses. This

operation is called reasoning (Dewey, 1916/1944). Moral reasoning refers to the

hypothesis constructed when reasoning in the moral domain.

Phenomenalism

Phenomenalism refers to the development of moral judgement as an expression of

an individual's subjective reality that is developed through a complex interaction between

judgement and action. Causality is bidirectional. Overt behavior influences moral beliefs;

moral beliefs influence behavior (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).








Retributive Justice

Retributive justice requires "pay back" in equal measure. An eye for an eye, a

tooth for a tooth is an example of retributive justice (Piaget, 1932/1965).

Structuralism

Structuralism refers to the general organizing principles or patterns of thought

rather than specific moral beliefs or opinions. According to Colby and Kohlberg (1987a)

concepts are not learned or used independently of one another, but are bound together by

common structural features. A pattern of connections, a structure or set of relations and

transformations, develop within the subject's meaning. Therefore, structuralism is the

hermeneutic that guides the analysis of the organization of thought inherent in the

individual's responses to moral dilemmas.

Delimitations of the Study

The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to

examine the relationships moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and

behavior. I included elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD

seems to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd 5* grade

present the best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late

elementary years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral

judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965). Sampling procedures took place in two moderately sized

school districts (approximately 27,000 30,000 students) in rural, Central Florida. I

purposively selected a sample of 12 students from the participant sample to participate in

moral dilemma interviews.








Limitations of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine moral reasoning in 3rd, 4h, and 5th grade

students with EBD. I implemented a causal correlational research design, using sampling

procedures and statistical methods that yield generalizable results to the population of 3rd,

4', and 5th grade students with EBD and their typical peers in the two rural school

districts from which they were selected. The findings cannot be generalized to students at

other grade levels or to students with disabilities other than EBD. The results of case

study research are not generalizable to other students and informants' prescriptions about

what should be done may not predict the choices they make in natural settings.

Additional specific methodological constraints are described in Chapter III.

Summary

Efforts at prevention and intervention have failed to stem the increasing numbers

of students who develop EBD during the elementary school years. Since the inception of

special education classes for students with EBD in the 1950s, researchers and

practitioners have focused intervention and prevention efforts on the effectiveness of

behavioral and cognitive-behavioral approaches to meet the needs of students with EBD.

Proponents of these approaches assume that the principles of learning and conditioning

are the primary influences that shape behavior, cognition, and emotion and attribute

importance to environmental forces as the active influence on the learning process (e.g.,

Kauffman, 1995). In contrast, the cognitive developmental approach presents the child as

an active participant in creating a subjective, lived reality (e.g., Dewey, 1916/1944;

Piaget, 1932/1965) and allows for the study of EBD as a manifestation of a complex

interaction among cognition, emotion, and behavior.








The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to

examine the relationships among moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and

behavior by targeting the development of moral reasoning in elementary students with

EBD. I included elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD

seems to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3" 5' grade

present the best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late

elementary years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral

judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965). Because the population of students with EBD is

characterized by a disproportionate number of African American males and students with

low SES (Kauffman, 1995), I included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also

included reading comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional

variable, and the student's grade in school to gauge developmental change.

Because of the complexity of the disability, EBD present a unique opportunity to

increase current knowledge about the complex relationships among behavior, emotion,

and cognition and the influence of each of these elements on the development of

morality. Cognitive-developmental researchers have examined moral reasoning in typical

populations of elementary children charting its developmental course (e.g., Colby &

Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and evaluating the influence of culture (e.g.,

Gilligan, 1982; Shweder et al., 1987). On the other hand, the relationship between moral

reasoning and emotional/behavioral influences has received little attention. I found only

two studies (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997) that examined moral reasoning in

students with EBD.







27

Overview of Remaining Chapters

In the remaining chapters, I further elaborate the theoretical framework, review

the relevant literature, describe the methods, report the results, and discuss the

implications of the findings. In Chapter II, I describe the theoretical framework of the

cognitive developmental approach and review the literature relevant to the development

of moral reasoning in typical and atypical populations. Chapter III provides a detailed

description of a pilot study and describes the research design, the setting and participants,

data gathering instruments, and the research procedures employed to implement the

study. In Chapter IV, I relate the results and in Chapter V, I synthesize the findings and

discuss the implications for researchers and practitioners.













CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Chapter II provides a synthesis of the literature on children's moral development

from a cognitive developmental perspective. I begin by relating the theoretical

assumptions that undergird the cognitive-developmental approach, followed by a review

of Piaget's seminal study (1932/1965). I then review Colby and Kohlberg's (1987)

reiteration of the theoretical assumptions and describe how these authors refined and

expanded Piaget's structural, or stage theory of moral development. Finally, I review

subsequent research, discussing both support for and challenges to the cognitive-

developmental conceptualization of the development of morality in elementary aged

children, giving detailed attention to the studies that investigated the seven independent

variables (i.e., gender, grade, ethnicity, atypical/typical behavior, trait anger, SES, and

reading comprehension) targeted in the present study.

Theory Development

The cognitive developmental perspective of children's moral development

assumes that children create knowledge as a result of a bi-directional relationship

between thinking and experience. When children see that a certain way of acting and its

consequence are connected, but they do not know how they are connected, reasoning

becomes an intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between the things

children do and the ensuing consequences (Dewey, 1916/1944). By examining children's

reasoning processes, the researcher seeks insight into past experiences and thinking, as








well as their present perceptions of how actions and consequences are connected

(Higgins, 1995; Siegler, 1998).

Piaget's Theory

Assuming a cognitive-developmental perspective about the creation of

knowledge, Piaget (1952) set forth three psychological processes that facilitate children's

progression toward higher levels of knowing: assimilation, accommodation, and

equilibration. According to Piaget, assimilation is the psychological process that defines

the way children transform incoming information so that it fits their existing way of

thinking. When new information is assimilated, children are able to form a meaningful

representation of the new material, but if new information can not be assimilated, the

meaning making process is thwarted. Siegler (1998) presents pretend play as an extreme

case of assimilation. When children pretend, they gloss over the physical characteristics

of objects and treat them as if they are what the children are momentarily interpreting

them to be. In contrast, Piaget presented accommodation as the psychological process

that defines the way children adapt their ways of thinking to new experiences. For

example, Siegler uses imitation as an extreme case of accommodation. When children

imitate, they minimize their interpretations and simply mimic what they see. According

to Piaget, assimilation and accommodation mutually influence each other, and

assimilation is never present without accommodation and vice versa.

Equilibration refers to the overall interaction between existing ways of thinking

and experience and is accomplished in three phases. First, children are satisfied with their

present mode of thought and are in a state of equilibrium. When they are confronted with

shortcomings in their present thinking, dissatisfaction or a state of disequilibrium,








develops. To restore a state equilibrium, children adopt a more sophisticated mode of

thought that eliminates the shortcomings of the old way of thinking (Piaget, 1952). In this

manner, equilibration provides the impetus for maturation.

Piaget's Study

In 1932, Piaget conducted a study of children's moral reasoning, employing a

methodology and establishing a theory firmly grounded in the epistemological

assumptions of cognitive-developmental psychology. Assuming that children construct

their moral realities as a result of their mental and physical actions, Piaget (1932/1965)

examined how nature, or the maturational process, and experience influence children's

understanding of morality.

"All morality consists in a system of rules, and the essence of all morality is to be

sought for in the respect which the individual acquires for these rules" (Piaget,

1932/1965, p. 13). Because adults teach children the rules for moral behavior, moral rules

are developed, not by children, but by a succession of generations (Dewey, 1916/1944)

and are transmitted to children before they are conscious of obligation (Piaget). To make

this developing consciousness visible, Piaget studied children's understanding of the

rules of the game of marbles because the rules of children's games are consciously

developed and elaborated by children. Specifically, Piaget targeted two phenomena to

observe: (a) practice; that is, the way in which children of different ages apply rules and

(b) consciousness; that is, whether they are obligatory and sacred or a matter of choice.

The rules of children's games. Piaget's (1932/1965) subjects were infants to 12-

year olds living in Geneva and Neuchatel, Switzerland. He began by observing and

noting children's variations in rule application and, then, he questioned them about








fairness of these variations. As a result, Piaget described four developmental stages that

define children's practice of rules: sensorimotor, egocentric, cooperation, and

codification of rules. Moreover, through the practice of rules, children develop a

consciousness of rules, or an understanding of the source of the obligatory, in three

stages: nonmoral; heteronomous morality; and autonomous morality.

The sensorimotor stage lasts from birth to approximately two years. During this

stage, children merely engage in sensorimotor explorations of a game's accoutrements

without regard for rules. Thus, stage 1 children are not conscience of moral obligations

and are described as nonmoral.

The sensorimotor stage is followed by the egocentric stage. At about age 2,

children enter a developmental period during which their thinking is limited by

egocentrism. Egocentric children think about the external world always in terms of their

own perspective and their own position within it (Siegler, 1998). Stage 2 children can

recite rules and state a respect for rules but, in practice, apply rules to suit their egocentric

wants and desires. Because of egocentrism, stage 2 children perceive the obligatory as

coerced by authority figures and entirely externally imposed. Moral realism develops,

leading to the practice of a heteronomous morality, a morality dependent on external

sources of obligation.

At about age 6, children develop a perspective of cooperation and enter the

cooperation stage. Egocentrism begins to lose its control on children's thinking allowing

insight into others' perspectives. This perspective taking ability predisposes them to an

attitude of cooperation even though moral realism persists. In fact, Piaget (1932/1965)

noted that stage 3 children accept rules with "mystic respect... [R]ules are eternal, due








to the authority of parents, of the Gentlemen of the Commune, and even of an almighty

God" (p. 61). Thus, stage 3 children continue to view obedience to authority as a primary

moral obligation; rules are sacred, untouchable and last forever.

At about age 10, experiences of cooperation with other children and authority

usher in an understanding of the rational rule, one that is self-imposed through mutual

consent. This move toward rationalism begins at about age 10 and signals the child's

transition into stage 4, the codification of rules stage. By age 12, the transition into stage

4 is complete and children understand that rules are self-imposed obligations that are

created through mutual agreement. Their moral judgements exemplify a perspective of

equal justice tempered by equity and the child becomes a moral being. Table 2.1

summarizes the salient points of Piaget's theory.

Moral dilemmas about clumsiness, lying, and stealing. Piaget's (1932/1965)

objective was to gain insight into morality as a developmental process and to determine

how this process relates to the practice and perception of the rules for moral behavior.

Identifying the stages that guide the application and consciousness of the rules of

children's games was only the first step toward achieving this objective. Piaget's second

step was to employ the technique of theoretical sampling to examine how these

developmental stages affected children's reasoning about moral problems.

To elicit children's moral reasoning, Piaget (1932/1965) presented 5 to 13-year

old children with moral dilemmas about clumsiness, lying, and stealing and discovered

that the same concepts that guide the practice and consciousness of the rules of children's

games also guide children's understanding of the rules for moral behavior. Piaget found

that themes of moral constraint coerced by an external authority distinguished young









Table 2.1

Piaget's Theory


Age Practice of Rules Consciousness of Rules


birth-2 years Stage 1

3-6 years Stae 2


7-9 years

10-12 years


Sensorimotor

Egocentric

Limited by egocentrism


Stage 1

Stage2


Stage3 Cooperation


12- adult Stage 4Codification of Rules Stage 3


Non-Moral

Heteronomous Morality

The moral is externally

coerced. Moral realism

prevails.

Develop perspective

taking

The moral is determined

by mutual consent.

Autonomous Morality

The moral is determined

from within


children's reasoning processes. As children matured, however, themes of cooperation and

social interaction began to emerge as the precursors of a developing autonomous morality

characterized by an independent, self-legislative stance.

Piaget (1932/1965) described children who practice heteronomous morality as

moral realists who perceive moral behavior as entirely externally imposed. From a moral

realist's perspective, rules do not require understanding, only obedience and conformity

regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, duty becomes self-subsistent and independent









of reason. Any act that shows obedience to a rule or to authority, regardless of the

command, is good. Any act that does not conform to the rules is bad. The good is

obedience and the letter rather than the spirit of the law represents an objective

conception of moral responsibility. As children mature, however, the development of

relationships among children and a perception of increasing equality with adults lead to

an attitude of mutual respect and children begin to understand that rules are imposed

through social contract.

Justice. To examine the development of justice reasoning, Piaget (1932/1965)

presented informants with dilemmas that stimulated their thinking about expiatory,

distributive, and retributive justice; collective and communicable responsibility;

immanent justice; equality and equity; and authority. He found that up until the age of 7

or 8, justice is subordinate to adult authority, but from ages 8 to 11, children

progressively develop the notion ofequlitarianism, or mutual respect. By the age 11 or

12, children adopt a perspective of purely equalitarian justice tempered by considerations

of equity. As a result, Piaget concluded that mutual respect is prerequisite to notions of

distributive justice and reciprocity and identified the ethics of mutual respect as the

moral.

The child sets forgiveness above revenge, not out of weakness, but
because 'there is no end' to revenge (a boy of 10)... [S]o in ethics,
reciprocity implies a purification of the deeper trend of conduct, guiding it
by gradual stages to universality itself. (p. 323-24)

Thus, morality develops out of reciprocity, when mutual respect is strong enough to make

the individual feel from within the desire to treat others as he wishes to be treated

(Piaget).








Kohlberg's Contribution

In 1987, Colby and Kohlberg replicated and refined Piaget's theory and authored

what might be one of the finest examples of a stage theory (Higgins, 1995). Their work

represented the end product of Kohlberg's lifelong search for the constituents of Piaget's

universal morality and the mechanisms that facilitate its development (Reed, 1997).

Moreover, Kohlberg attempted to transform theory into practice, by implementing a Just

Community approach to moral education in three high schools in Boston (Power,

Higgins, Kohlberg, 1989).

Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) reframed the epistemological assumptions of the

cognitive-developmental approach by defining the role of phenomenalism structuralism

and constructivism in the development of morality. The first, phenomenalism, refers to

moral judgement as a subjective reality, dependent on individual perceptions and

influenced by both experience and maturation. Thus, an individual's moral reality

develops as a result of a complex interaction between judgement and behavior as

mediated by maturation. Thus, the relationship between moral judgement and behavior is

bi-directional; overt behavior can influence moral beliefs just as moral beliefs can

influence behavior.

Structuralism sets forth the proposition that as children grow older their thinking

changes as a result of an interaction between experience and maturation (Higgins, 1995).

This change occurs in qualitatively distinct stages that begin and end with a brief

transitional period and may occur abruptly (Siegler, 1998). Thus, children's reasoning in

earlier stages differs qualitatively from their reasoning in later ones and at any given

point in development children reason similarly on moral problems. Therefore, concepts







36

such as moral obligation are not merely learned or used independently of other concepts,

but are bound together by common structural features (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). In

fact, the relations among ideas in the individual's thinking and the pattern of connections

within the individual's meaning provide the hermeneutic that guides the interpretive

process (Colby & Kohlberg).

Finally, constructivism defines individuals' active roles in constructing and

reconstructing reality. According to Colby and Kohlberg (1987a), by thinking about and

acting on the world individuals are creative because they are always inventing or

constructing new responses to new problems. Each response, however, is not simply a

creation of the moment, but is constrained and/or facilitated by the individual's current

developmental level and the individual's developmental history. In effect, each stage

provides a scaffold for the next. To reveal an individual's progressive coming into

consciousness as a result of action and reason, Colby and Kohlberg, like Piaget

(1932/1965), presented informants with moral dilemmas to stimulate their moral

reasoning.

Kohlberg's theory. Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) conceptualized a theoretical

framework based on deontic reasoning; that is, questions involving judgements of

rightness, duties, and rights. These researchers defined moral judgements as (a)

judgements of value, not of fact; (b) social judgements, involving people; and (c)

prescriptive or normative judgements, judgements of duty, or rights and responsibilities

rather than value judgements of liking or preference. Thus, moral judgements are

prescriptive because they command or oblige a prescribed course of action and are

derived from some rule or principle of action that the speaker takes as binding. Moral








judgements are different from social-conventional judgements (e.g., judgements about

dress, manners) because conventional judgements are relative to a particular situation, but

moral judgements are unalterable and universal.

To elicit the individual's constitutive knowledge about the bearings, uses, and

causes of moral problems, Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) presented informants with moral

dilemmas that represented conflicts in values. For example, in the "Heinz Dilemma"

informants' were presented with a conflict between upholding the law or stealing to save

someone's life. Informants' responses to these dilemmas were then evaluated by

identifying the relations among ideas in the individual's thinking and the pattern of

connections with the individual's meaning. Concepts such as the nature of duty, rules,

obligations, and the fairness of consequences were not perceived as concepts merely

learned or used independently of other concepts, but were envisioned as concepts bound

together by common structural features. Therefore, similar relations among ideas and a

generalized moral perspective define each level and stage of development. Moreover,

Colby and Kohlberg hypothesized that the developmental process they identified is

invariant and universal. As a result, Colby and Kohlberg identified six stages of moral

reasoning, grouped into three levels: (a) the preconventional level which includes stage 1:

punishment obedience and stage 2: personal reward moral orientations; (b) the

conventional level which includes stage 3: good boy/nice girl and stage 4: law and order

moral orientations; and (c) the principled or postconventional level which includes stage

5: social contract and stage 6: universal ethical principle moral orientations.

Preconventional level. The preconventional level describes the thinking of most

children under the age of 9, some adolescents, and many adolescent and adult criminal








offenders. Preconventional morality is characterized by reasoning that does not reliably

understand and uphold socially shared moral norms and expectations because the

reasoning process is constrained by na've moral realism and egocentrism. Stage 1

individuals define the right as following rules backed by punishment, obeying for its own

sake, and avoiding physical damage to persons and property. Thus, avoiding punishment

and obeying a superior authority supply the motivations for moral behavior. For example,

a stage 1 individual might reason that stealing is "wrong because you're not supposed to

break into stores. You'll get locked up" (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 66).

In contrast, stage 2 is represented in a concrete, individualistic perspective. Stage

2 individuals follow rules only when it serves their immediate interests and they expect

others to do the same. For this reason, they have difficulty ordering or setting priorities

when presented with conflicting needs and interests, leading to relative morality and

indecisiveness in moral judgement. Colby and Kohlberg (1987b) present the following

moral judgement as an example of stage 2 reasoning.

Because if he steals the drug, he might get caught and then he'd have to
put it back, and he'd be in jail and then he wouldn't be able to raise the
money. (p. 70)

Conventional level. The conventional level includes most adolescents and adults

and refers to a morality guided by a socially shared systems of moral rules, roles, and

norms. During stage 3, the separate perspectives of individuals are coordinated into a

third person perspective, that of mutually trusting relationships among people embodied

in a set of shared moral norms. Stage 3 norms can be distinguished from Stage 2 rules

because they represent an integration of perspectives that is separate from strictly







39
individual interests. Colby and Kohlberg (1987b) present the following as an example of

a stage 3 moral judgement.

In reality he shouldn't steal because the man in the shop worked hard and
earned the money, so he doesn't have the right to steal from the shop. (p.
74)

At stage 4, the individual begins to take the perspective of a generalized member

of society and conceptualizes the social system as a consistent set of codes and

procedures that apply impartially to all members. The informally shared norms of stage 3

are systematized to maintain impartiality and consistency and an individual's interest is

considered legitimate only when it is consistent with the maintenance of the sociomoral

system as a whole. Moral judgement, therefore, is usually made in reference to

institutions or systems. The following example expresses a stage 4 moral judgement.

The law protects the druggist whether or not he is morally right, and in
order to maintain any kind of order in society the law should be followed
as much as possible. (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 85)

Postconventional level. The postconventional level is reached after the age of20

and by only a small minority of individuals. The term postconventional morality refers to

a general acceptance of society's rules that is based on formulating and accepting the

general moral principles that underlie these rules. These general moral principles are

universal and unalterable and, at times, may come into conflict with society's rules. In

this case, the postconventional individual judges by principle rather than convention.

A stage 5 prior-to-society perspective is that of a rational moral individual who

reasons using the universal values and rights that anyone would choose to build into a

moral society. Laws and social systems are evaluated in terms of the degree to which they

preserve and protect fundamental human rights and values. Within this perspective, the








primary focus is either on rights or on social welfare. Rights cannot be abridged even

through freely chosen contracts and each person has an obligation to make moral choices

that uphold these rights, even in cases where they conflict with society's laws. Thus, the

perspective reflects a philosophy in which social institutions and laws are evaluated

according to their long-term consequences for the welfare of each person or group. For

example,

[A] society depends on a set of laws and regularities for its very existence
... [A] set of common agreements and understandings among people
which increases their ability to predict or control other people's behaviors.
(Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 100)

The sociomoral perspective of stage 6 is that "the moral" reflects a point of view

that all human beings should take toward one another as free and equal autonomous

persons. This requires equal consideration of the claims of each person affected by the

moral judgement and enjoins prescriptive role taking using procedures designed to ensure

fairness, impartiality, and reversibility in role taking. Kohlberg and his colleagues did not

find many examples of stage 6 reasoning in their studies and eventually dropped this

stage from the developmental sequence (Reed, 1997). Reed constructed the following

moral judgment as an example of stage 6.

A stranger has a right to life just the same as Heinz's wife. Heinz might
have more personal motive for stealing to save his wife's life, but there is
no moral difference between his wife and a stranger. If Heinz were to
consider the situation from the point of view of the stranger, he would see
that there is no moral difference. (p. 72)

Table 2 summarizes the major points of Kohlberg's theory.








Table 2.2

Kohlberg's Theory


Age Levels Stages


Up to 9 years Preconventional Stage 1: Punishment-Obedience Orientation

Stage 2: Personal Reward Orientation

9-20 years Conventional Stage 3: Good Boy/Nice Girl Orientation

Stage 4: Law and Order Orientation

20 + years Postconventional Stage 5: Social Contract Orientation

Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle Orientation


Relevant Research

Piaget's (1932/1965) and Colby and Kohlberg's (1987a) stage theories have

received substantial attention from the research community and much of this attention has

been directed toward the development of morality in children. Stage theorists have

examined children's moral reasoning as an invariant sequence of developmental stages

that are qualitatively identifiable by their similar structures (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones &

Gall, 1995). Others, however, have argued that the developmental process does not define

the structural elements of children's moral judgements. On the contrary, social domain

theorists define the structure of children's moral judgements using three social domains,

the personal, the moral, or the social-conventional (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995). Finally,

social constructivist challenge the universality of stage theories and employ cross-cultural

studies to describe the structural elements of children's moral judgement as a reflection

of cultural specific norms and values (e.g., Brown et al., 1995; Shweder et al., 1987).








Evidence for Stages

Researchers have given much attention to egocentrism in young children and its

dissipation during the early elementary years. According to Piaget (1932/1965),

egocentrism serves as a psychological constraint on young children's reasoning that

diminishes in influence as the child matures, signaling the advent of higher forms of

reasoning. Because of the limits of egocentrism, young children tend to focus on the most

salient quality of the event, the observable consequences--not the actor's intent, when

making moral judgments. Thus, young children judge any event that evokes an adverse

consequence as egregious, regardless of the actor's intention and state a preference for

expiatory punishment over retributive justice in response to moral transgressions. By age

6 or 7, however, egocentrism begins to give way to perspective taking, allowing children

to consider others' motivations. At the same time, children's preferences shift toward

retributive justice instead of expiatory punishment when responding to moral

transgressions.

In typical peers. Recent research employing a stage theory perspective provide

substantial evidence that egocentrism may, indeed, be a defining feature of young

children's thinking that appears to fade in influence as children mature (e.g., Bussey,

1992; Jones & Gall, 1995; Zelazo, Helwiz, & Lau, 1996). To evaluate the level of

egocentrism present in children's thinking at various ages, researchers pose moral

dilemmas and examine children's understanding of others' intentions. Findings suggest

that even when young children can state an actor's intent and can define the differences

between lies and mistakes, they will judge an act as wrong if the consequences are

aversive (Bussey, 1992) or if the actor expends a high degree of effort in committing the








misdeed (Jones & Gall 1995). Furthermore, findings indicate that as children mature,

their ability to understand and use an actor's intent when making moral judgements

seems to increase as they mature (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Dixon & Moore, 1990;

Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Zelazo et al., 1996). On the other hand, Barchard and Atkins

found that children continue to prefer expiatory punishment as a response to moral

transgressions, regardless of their level of maturation; therefore, researchers have not

replicated Piaget's developmental effect in children's preference for retributive justice

over expiatory punishment.

Researchers have generally relied on the moral dilemma interview to prompt

children's moral judgements, frequently varying the content of the prompt to provide

richness and depth to the results (e.g. Bussey, 1992; Nucci & Weber, 1995; Turiel,

Killen, & Helwig, 1987). Moreover, researchers generally include children of varying

ages to document maturational changes (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Jones & Gall,

1995). For example, Piaget (1965) presented child focused real life moral dilemmas to 5

to 13-year olds, Johnston (1988) presented moral dilemmas in fables to 11 to 15- year

olds, and Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) presented hypothetical moral dilemmas to

individuals across all ages.

Although the use of moral dilemmas has provided valuable information about

how children's moral judgements may vary according to dilemma content, this data

gathering procedure requires specialized training in a labor intensive method of coding

and analysis (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a for scoring instructions). In response to this

problem, Rest (1979) developed and validated the Defining Issues Test (DIT), a

standardized, multiple-choice instrument based on Kohlberg's hypothetical dilemmas and







44
scoring criteria. The DIT, however, is written on a 7" grade reading level, limiting its use

to older adolescents and adults. Recently, Narvaez et al. (1999) developed the Moral

Theme Inventory (MTI) specifically for use with children. The purpose of the MTI is to

assess children's ability to understand themes of cooperation in moral stories as the

author intended or as children distort them to match their developmental level of moral

reasoning. Thus, the development of the MTI presents new research opportunities

because it provides child development researchers with a standardized complement to the

moral dilemma interview.

In students with EBD. Hardman & Smith (2001) piloted a study of moral

reasoning in 3rd, 4t, and 5h grade students with EBD (n = 21) and typical peers (n = 21).

Study participants completed the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999), which measures children's

ability to comprehend themes of cooperation in moral stories. These results were

submitted to a regression analysis accounting for the following independent variables:

SES, gender, ethnicity, grade, reading comprehension, and atypical/typical behavior. This

research design allowed the authors to investigate the relationships among several

cultural variables (i.e., ethnicity, gender, and SES) and the development of moral

judgement. Moreover, by including students with EBD and typical peers, these

researchers sought to further illuminate current understanding of the relationship between

behavior and reasoning. Hardman and Smith also examined the moral reasoning

processes of three students with EBD employing case study research to evaluate their

responses to moral dilemmas. The purpose of the case study research was to elaborate

students' reasoning processes beyond their objectively evaluated abilities to detect moral

themes of cooperation as measured by the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999).








As a result, Hardman and Smith (2001) found a significant relationships EBD,

SES, and moral theme comprehension, but when accounting for all independent variables

(i.e., SES, gender, ethnicity, grade, reading comprehension, and atypical/typical

behavior) results showed that the effect for EBD was due to the overrepresentation of

children with low SES in the sample of students with EBD. Moreover, case study results

indicated that three students with EBD, who were also low SES, voiced self-focused,

preconventional moral judgements and did not typically voice other-focused moral

themes of cooperation. Instead of cooperation, avoiding punishment, egoistic

consequences, and seeking personal reward appeared to motivate their moral decision-

making.

Hardman and Smith (2001) concluded that the dominance of egocentrism in the

responses of the students with EBD bears preliminary theoretically significant

implications and warrants further documentation. They also caution that because SES and

EBD were confounded, they could not evaluate the relationship between EBD and moral

theme comprehension independent of the significant effect found for SES. These findings

present additional evidence, however, that SES may provide a significant influence on the

development of children's moral reasoning processes. While Colby, Kohlberg, and their

colleagues (1987) found SES to be significantly related to the development of moral

judgment in their longitudinal study of U.S. males, Hardman and Smith are the only

researchers to pursue the nature of this relationship further. In fact, researchers

investigating children's moral reasoning usually conduct their research using purposively

selected samples, thereby seriously limiting the generalizability of the results to the

diverse population that defines public schools.








On the other hand, Hardman and Smith (2001) failed to address the emotional

concomitants of EBD in their analyses. Externalizing disorders characterized by

aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior are the most prevalent types of EBD

(Kauffman, 1995; Kauffman et al., 1987) and anger is assumed to be the emotional

motivator of these maladaptive behaviors (e.g., Kauffman, 1995; Walker et al., 1995). To

effectively evaluate the relationship between EBD and moral reasoning, the emotional

concomitants of the maladaptive behavior (i.e., anger) should be included in the analyses

(Enright, personal communication).

Evidence for Social Domains

Social domain theorists (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Turiel, Hildebrandt, &

Waintyb, 1991; Turiel et al., 1987) hypothesized that moral reasoning is defined by three

distinct conceptual domains: (a) the moral, which pertains mainly to concerns with

welfare, justice, and rights; (b) the social-conventional, which pertains to an

understanding of social uniformities and regularities as a necessary part of the smooth

and efficient functioning of social organizations; and (c) the personal, which refers to

those individual prerogatives and entitlements considered to be exempt from social

regulation (Laupa & Turiel). Thus, these researchers challenge the structural integrity of

the Piagetian/Kohlbergian framework and provide evidence that individuals, including

young children, match the content of their reasoning to the domain (i.e., moral, social-

conventional, or personal) in which the transgression applies (e.g., Smetana, Schlageman,

& Adams, 1993; Nucci & Webber, 1995; Tisak, 1996).

In typical peers. Smetana et al. (1993) examined children's responses to

hypothetical and actual conventional and moral transgressions and found that regardless








of transgression type, young children judge moral transgressions to be more serious,

punishable, generally wrong, and independent of rules/authority than social-conventional

transgressions. Similarly, others have found that 3 to 5-year olds distinguish among the

moral, social-conventional, and personal domains (Crane & Tisak, 1995a; 1995b; Nucci

& Weber, 1995) and that mothers (Nucci & Weber) and teachers (Tisak, 1996) respond

differently to children's transgressions according to domain. Therefore, researchers

conclude that the responses of teachers, parents, and peers to different types of

transgressions may significantly influence young children's understanding of events

(Tisak). In support of structural theories, however, social domain researchers have found

that preschoolers and first graders are more likely than third graders to view mixed-

domain acts as only conventional (Smetana et al.), providing evidence that as children

mature, they are increasingly able to recognize the moral components of mixed-domain

events and to incorporate both moral and conventional considerations in their reasoning

(Crane & Tisak, 1995a; 1995b).

In violent children. Astor (1994) examined moral reasoning in 108 nonclinically

referred aggressive and nonaggressive children using vignettes about family and peer

violence. Astor found that violent and nonviolent children condemned unprovoked

violence in all family and peer social contexts. Aggressive children, however, judged

provocation as a transgression that results in serious psychological harm; therefore, it

must be answered with retribution (e.g., hitting back). In contrast, nonagressive children

did not think psychological harm warranted the serious harm that might result with

retribution. Astor concluded that provocation should be examined as a social domain and

suggested further explorations of violent children's reasoning in this domain. Although








Astor's subjects included 54 violent children chosen on the basis of the frequency and

salience of their violent acts during a two-month period, Astor did not include any

measures of anger in his analyses.

In students with EBD. In a follow up study, Astor and Behre (1997) examined the

social context of provocation. Study participants included 17 boys who were enrolled in a

highly restrictive special education day treatment program designed for students with

EBD, their care providers, and a control group that consisted of a matched sample of 17

children and their caretakers. Using Astor's vignettes (1994), Astor and Behre explored

the influence of family and peers on the approval of violence in the family and school

within three types of interpersonal relationships: parent/child; parent/parent; and peer.

Even though Astor and Behre were investigating violence at home and with peers, no

measures of anger were included in the analyses. Using Astor's interpretation of

provocation as a social domain, Astor and Behre concluded that violent children tended

to use moral-only reasoning and nonviolent children more frequently used nonmoral-only

reasoning.

Astor and Behre's (1997) conclusions should be viewed with caution because

they are predicated on the assumption that provocation constitutes a moral domain.

Based on this assumption, Astor and Behre coded nonviolent children's responses that

hitting is wrong under all circumstances as non-moral reasoning and violent children's

responses that hitting is appropriate when one is provoked were coded as moral.

According to Laupa & Turiel's (1995) definition of social domains, provocation that

causes psychological harm falls in the personal domain, which includes individual







49

prerogatives and entitlements considered exempt from social regulation. Therefore, Astor

and Astor and Behre's findings and conclusions may be misleading.

Social Constructivist Challenges

Universal moral principles. Social constructivists also challenge the

conceptualization of moral reasoning as a cross cultural/universal phenomenon that

develops in an invariant sequence of stages. Instead, constructivists posit that moral

development is entirely a social phenomenon, directed by cultural norms and values.

Social constructivists charge that stage theories are singularly focused on justice

reasoning because justice reasoning preferences the individualistically focused values and

norms of Western middle class males, and relegates communitarian ideals, such as care

orientation, to lower developmental stages (e.g., Brown et al., 1995; Gilligan, 1982;

Gilligan, Ward, & Taylor, 1988; Shweder et al., 1987).

In an effort to examine the universality of justice reasoning, Edwards (1987)

conducted a cross cultural ethnographic study of moral development in young Oyugis

(African) children and American preschool children in a Vassar College Nursery School.

Edwards observed that young Oyugis children conform to cultural conventions according

to the salience of the social benefits connected to cooperation with the rules. Thus,

Edwards concluded that the reasons for cooperation with many rules is often

incomprehensible to young children, stating that "Oyugis parents do not need to preach to

children about the rationales underlying any of these rules because the routines of

children's lives amply contain the evidence" (p. 140). In comparison, she found that the

values and norms taught in the Vassar College Nursery School differed from those taught

to Oyugis children, but the method of inculcation was the same. Edwards deduced that








the learning environment, not the child, subdivides morality into separate domains, such

as moral and conventional. She summed up the interplay of reason, culture, and

development saying, "[W]ith increasing age and experience, children apply progressively

more complex and mobile logical schemas to cultural distinctions and categories; they

transform what they are told and what they experience into their own self-organized

realities" (p. 149).

Gilligan (1982) challenged the universality of justice reasoning by examining

gender related cultural differences in moral reasoning. Gilligan and her colleagues (e.g.,

Brown et al., 1995; Gilligan et aL, 1988) present evidence that moral reasoning in males

and females may be different in orientation. These researchers found that males are more

likely to interpret moral dilemmas using a justice/rights orientation and that females are

more likely to prefer a care orientation. Influenced by these findings, Cassidy, Chu, and

Dahlsgaard (1997) investigated children's use of care and justice orientations. Children

were read four moral dilemmas designed to prompt either a care perspective (one

dilemma), a justice perspective (one dilemma), or either justice or care (two dilemmas).

These authors found that regardless of gender, children used justice and care orientations

at equal rates and would accept both orientations to the same dilemma. Barchard and

Atkins (1991) and Smetana (1993) examined the effects of gender in their research;

however, they found no significant differences in children's reasoning based on gender.

A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral Education

Kohlberg envisioned the Just Community as a moral education intervention

intended to provide students with social experiences that would facilitate moral

development by deliberately exposing and using the hidden curriculum to create a liberal,








democratic community (Power et al. 1989). According to Power and his colleagues,

Kohlberg believed that the most fundamental values of our society are the values of

justice and fairness. Therefore, the purpose of moral education is to teach justice by

allowing students to learn the basic valuing processes that underlie their capacity for

moral judgement. As a result, schools transmit the consensual values of a democratic

society and not the values of specific cultures or groups.

Power et al. (1989) stated that public school educators have the responsibility to

teach values, though they do not have the right to impose their own, or any set of values

on their students. These authors agreed with Durkeim's (1961) portrayal of the classroom

as a small society with its own rules, obligations, and sense of social cohesion; therefore,

the procedures of classroom discipline are naturally invested with moral meaning.

Schools cannot eliminate authority from classrooms, but educators can, instead, use their

authority to develop a community that enables children's socialization into a sense of

attachment and obligation to society and its institutions.

Although the social curriculum is a vital component of the school curriculum, this

curricular component has come to been known as the hidden curriculum (Power, et al,

1989). According to Power and his co-authors, the rules that define the hidden curriculum

shape the moral atmosphere, or the context for moral learning, in the school. To

implement a Just Community based on the principles of justice and fairness, these authors

advise educators to employ the hidden curriculum when dealing with everyday rules of

behavior. Therefore, the aim of the Just Community is to expose the hidden curriculum

and transform it into a curriculum of justice, using a different form of school governance







52
where the rights of students and teachers are taken seriously and the values of justice and

fairness take primacy over the value of adult authority.

Kohlberg and his colleagues implemented the Just Community intervention in two

Boston high schools. Results indicated a modest developmental change in student's moral

judgement stage scores. The most dramatic changes, however, were measured in the

judgements of students who reasoned at the preconventional level when the intervention

began. As a result their experiences in the Just Community, students moved from a stage

2: personal reward orientation to stage 3 and stage 4: conventional level of reasoning.

Kohlberg and his colleagues concluded,

The managerial approaches to school administration, with their emphasis
on techno-bureaucratic strategies of problems solving, have undermined
the ideas of moral education. They must give way to a more self-
consciously democratic and communal approach. We are in need of an
educational reform far more significant than any we have know, a reform
that draws its inspiration not from technological advance but from the
moral ideals ofjustice, democracy, and community on which this nation
was founded. (p. 306)

Unfortunately, there have been no efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of the Just

Community approach in elementary schools, where early intervention in children's moral

development might be the most effective.

Review of Seven Independent Variables

The current research agenda appears narrowly focused on the influence of the

developmental process and the universality of this process across cultures and gender,

leaving many important theoretical issues unresolved. For example, cognitive-

developmental researchers have not examined the influences of poverty and ethnicity

within our Western culture (Hardman & Smith, 2001), the relationship between behavior

and reasoning (Hardman & Smith), or the relationship between emotion and moral








judgment. While the study of children's moral reasoning has enlisted a variety of

different perspectives (i.e., stage, social domain, and social constructivist theories),

proponents of these perspectives seem to have missed meaningful opportunities to clarify

the relationship between moral reasoning and behavior, emotion, and cultural issues

specific to America's schools.

Socioeconomic Status (SES)

Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) presented the results of a 20-year

longitudinal study of moral reasoning in 84 U.S. males seeking support for Kohlberg's

hypothesis that moral judgement develops in a invariant sequence of six stages. They

explored the effects of SES, IQ, and achievement assuming that these variables might

provide an important influence on stage development. Results showed that stage 3 was

present at age 10 for middle-class subjects, but not until age 13 for working-class

subjects. Stage 4 appeared at age 16 in middle-class individuals, but not until age 20 in

the lower SES group. They also found that moral judgement stage development was

related to achievement; however, partial correlations showed that differences in rate of

stage development was related to achievement as a reflection of SES differences. As a

result, Colby, Kohlberg et al. surmised that SES influences the development of moral

judgement because students with low SES do not experience the same opportunities to

participate in society as do their peers from middle income families.

Although Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) presented credible

evidence that SES might provide an important influence on the development of children's

moral judgement, SES has been largely ignored in subsequent studies (cf. Bussy, 1992;

Jones & Gall, 1995; Smetana et al., 1993; Nucci & Webber, 1995; Tisak, 1996; Zelazo et








al., 1996). In Hardman and Smith's (2001) study of moral reasoning in students with

EBD, they examined the effects of SES and found it to be significantly related to

children's moral judgement stage development. Moreover, these authors were unable to

interpret the effects of EBD on moral reasoning because EBD and SES were confounded,

indicating that students from low SES families are being identified as emotionally

disturbed in greater numbers than are their middle income peers.

Researchers know that children from poor families appear to be at a cognitive

disadvantage when they enter school and that they are also at risk for social or behavior

problems (Bryant & Maxwell, 1997). Palakow (1998) describes poverty as an endemic

feature of the landscape of America with the largest constituency of poor Americans

being young children. In her ethnographic studies of public school classrooms, Palakow

found

widespread discrimination and prejudice on the part of teachers and school
personnel toward destitute children and their families-where classroom
environments for poor children, particularly difficult and angry children,
become landscapes of condemnation that reveal shared experiences of
exclusion, humiliation, and indifference. (p. 15)

In the case of moral reasoning, Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) and

Hardman Smith (2001) provide evidence that SES provides a significant influence.

Therefore, SES appears to represent an important cultural influence on children's school

experiences and it also seems to represent a significant influence on the development of

children's moral judgement.

Grade

The maturing of children's moral judgement as a function of age is the focal point

of the research literature. Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) found a clear








relationship between age and moral judgement stage development in their longitudinal

study of American males. Using a multiple regression analysis, these authors found that

age accounted for 60% of the variance in stage scores. Moreover, they found that stage

scores at age 10 did not predict adulthood scores, but stage scores at age 13 were much

more highly correlated with later scores. As a result, Colby and Kohlberg (1987a)

conjectured that the most fruitful time period for moral education may occur before the

age of 13. Nevertheless, Kohlberg chose high schools, not elementary schools, as the

context in which to implement his Just Community intervention.

The effect of maturation on the structure of children's moral judgement has been

widely research and documented (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Crane & Tisak, 1995a;

1995b; Dixon & Moore, 1990); however, Hardman and Smith (2001) are the only

researchers to employed random sampling. Interestingly, these authors did not find a

developmental effect when measuring respondents' ability to detect themes of

cooperation in moral stories. On the other hand, their study included a small sample

(N=42), a disproportionate number of students with low SES, and a limited age range

(i.e., 3rd, 4th, and 5t grades). For these reasons, Hardman and Smith advised caution when

interpreting these results and recommend continued research on the effects of maturation

on children's moral judgement in samples that represent the diverse nature of public

school populations.

Gender

According to Reed (1997), Kohlberg began his theory building efforts as a

graduate student at the University of Chicago by studying the development of moral

judgment in a sample of American boys. He elected to include only males in his sample








on the advice of his advisor, who suggested that he limit the number of variables to be

include in his analyses (Reed, 1997). This decision led to credible assaults from feminist

researchers on the universality of his theory across gender (e.g., Gilligan, 1982).

Carol Gillligan (1982) was the first to raise the issue of sex bias in Kohlberg's

theory, charging that his justice focused account of the development of moral judgement

was a by-product of sex-bias in sampling procedures. She charged that because the roles

of American males are more likely to include participation in democratic social

institutions, Kohlberg's theory preferences the development of a justice orientation in his

hierarchical scheme of moral stage development. In contrast, Gilligan and her colleagues

(1982, 1988) found that females were more likely to voice a communitarian or care

orientation in their moral judgments, placing value on the importance of maintaining

intimate social relationships. Using Kohlberg's scheme, this kind of reasoning is

relegated to a stage 3: good boy/nice girl orientation; whereas, justice reasoning is

assigned a higher stage 4: law and order orientation (Reed, 1997). As a result, females

were more likely to be evaluated as reasoning at lower stages. Gilligan and her colleagues

concluded that the cultural role of females in American society as maintainers of intimate

social relationships might lead to the development of a different moral orientation, but

not necessarily a less sophisticated one.

Gilligan's (1982) feminist critique of Kohlberg's theory has resulted in the

frequent inclusion of gender in researchers' analyses of children's moral judgments. For

example, Barchard and Atkins (1991) and Smetana et al. (1993) included gender in their

studies of children's moral judgements about naughtiness and punishment and found no

significant effects for this variable. Cassidy et al. (1997) focused on preschool children's







57
ability to use care and/or justice orientations in their moral judgements and reported that

girls and boys used justice and care orientations with equal frequency and could even

accept both orientations to the same dilemma. On the other hand, Johnson (1988)

examined gender differences in adolescents' responses to moral dilemmas presented in

fables and found that girls choose both justice and care orientations more frequently than

boys, who tended as a group to use the rights orientation more exclusively.

Anger

The study of anxiety and depression have dominated researcher interest over the

past 25 years while the study of anger has been relatively ignored (Kassinove &

Sukhodolsky, 1995). Kassinove and Sukhodolsky define anger as

[A] negative phenomenological (or internal) feeling state associated with
specific cognitive and perceptual distortions and deficiencies (e.g.,
misappraisals, errors, and attributions of blame, injustice, preventability,
and/or intentionality), subjective labeling, physiological changes, and
action tendencies to engage in socially constructed and reinforced
organized behavioral scripts. Thus anger refers to a label given to a
constellation of specific uncomfortable subjective experiences and
associated cognitions (i.e., thoughts, beliefs, images, etc.) and may
develop as a result of people's subjective interpretation of an event. (p. 7)

Researchers have learned a great deal about the relationships among depression

and/or anxiety and cognition, finding that emotion and cognition are inextricably related

(e.g., Beck, 1976; Ellis, 1973). On the other hand, little is known about the relationship

between anger and cognition. In fact, Eckhardt and Deffenbacker (1995) state that the

study of anger has been neglected. According to recent findings, angry responses to any

given situation do not appear to be dependent upon actual events, but may, instead, be

dependent on the individuals' subjective interpretations of events (e.g., Dodge & Coie

1987; Levine, 1995), thereby signally the passing of moral judgement (Othof et al.,








1989). Thus, researchers know that the relationship between anger and cognition is

reciprocal (Kassinove, 1995), but the direction of the relationship is not clear. In other

words, feelings of anger may precede judgement (Deffenbacher et al., 1996, Dodge &

Coie; Walker et. al, 1995) or judgment may precede anger (e.g., Downey et al., 1998;

Enright & Fitzgibbons; Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992; Murphy & Eisenberg, 1996). The

former position emphasizes anger as a trait that influences cognition, but the latter

presents trait anger as a justified response to perception of injustice and rejection.

According to Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995), the typical instigation of anger

begins with a value judgment. Therefore, anger represents an attribution of blame that is

dependent upon individuals' perceptions of their social relationships. The emerging

literature on children's anger presents evidence that there may be a significant

relationships among social competence, rejection, anger, and moral judgement. For

example, Murphy and Eisenberg (1996) found that social competency predicts anger

intensity and Downey, and her colleagues (1998) found that poor and minority children

who angrily expect social rejection behavior more aggressively, experience increased

interpersonal difficulties, and decline in academic learning over time. In addition, Fabes

and Eisenberg (1992) found that children who were low in social status and social

competence seemed to invite aggressive conflict. Nevertheless, research on children's

anger seems to be in an incipient stage (e.g., Boekaerts, 1993; Fabes & Eisenberg;

Murphy & Eisenberg), leaving many important questions about the relationship between

anger and moral judgment unexplored and unanswered.








Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD)

An emotional/behavioral disorder is a complex, multifaceted disability that is

defined by the presence of disordered behavior, emotion, and cognition (Kauffman,

1995). According to Kauffman the maladaptive behavior of students with EBD can be

represented in externalizing disorders characterized by aggression, disruption, and

antisocial behavior or it may be represented in internalizing disorders such as withdrawal

and anxiety. Externalizing disorders seem to represent the most common form of EBD

(Kauffman et al, 1987; Walker, 1995); however, this may be the case because

externalizing disorders also represent the most commonly cited reason for referral to

special education (Kauffman & Wong, 1991). Because of their maladaptive behavior,

students with EBD often face rejection and rebuke from peers and teachers, resulting in

their removal from the general education classroom and likely placement in special

classes, day schools, and alternative schools (Kauffman).

While the federal definition of EBD refers specifically to unhappiness and

depression as the underlying emotional concomitants of EBD, researchers suggest that

anger may also contribute to the development of EBD, especially when maladaptive

behavior is represented in aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior (Walker et. al.,

1995). Walker and his co-authors proposed (1995) a seven phase acting-out cycle that

includes the following phases: calm; trigger; agitation; acceleration; peak; de-escalation;

and recovery. These authors also identified numerous school-based (e.g., conflicts,

changes in routine, provocations, pressure, and ineffective problem solving) and

nonschool-based "triggers" (dysfunctional homes, health problems, nutrition, substance

abuse, and gangs) that instigate aggressive behavior. Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995)








point out, however, that aggression is not always instigated by anger and suggest that the

intent of aggression can be either instrumental or emotional. Instrumental aggression is

carried out for an extrinsic purpose, while emotional or hostile aggression derives from

an urge to attack someone when one feels angry, even though one may not profit from

aggression. One may even be willing to pay a price for it. According to Kassinove and

Sukhodolsky, this type of aggression frequently occurs in response to a perceived

injustice.

An emotional/behavioral disorder is also defined by cognitive limitations other

than emotional disorders. According to the federal definition, (IDEA, 1997) students with

EBD exhibit "an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or

health factors." Thus, the definition specifically identifies learning deficiencies as an

important element of the disability in addition to emotional and behavioral disorders.

Researchers generally point to a population tendency toward a low average IQ to provide

evidence that learning deficiencies may accompany EBD (Kauffman, 1995). Therefore,

the emotional/behavioral/cognitive complexity of EBD seems to present child

development researchers with a unique opportunity to explore the relationships among

behavior, emotion, and cognition and children's moral judgement. Yet, students with

EBD have not been included in studies examining children's moral reasoning processes

(cf. Brown et al., 1995; Bussey, 1992; Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Jones & Gall, 1995;

Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Piaget, 1932/1965; Shweder et al. 1987). Therefore, the study of

students' thinking processes has been limited to identifying cognitive distortions/deficits

that lead to aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior and the reinforcement








contingencies that maintain cognition, emotion, and behavior (e.g., Kaplan & Carter,

1995).

Ethnicity

According to Colby, Kohlberg, and Nisan (1987), both the stages and the

sequence of development for moral judgement are universal, or culturally invariant.

[M]oral judgement represents underlying thought organization rather than
specific responses; its development results from a process of interaction
between organismic structuring tendencies and universal features of social
experience, rather than from "transmission" through genetics or direct
shaping; and the direction of development is toward greater equalibration
in the organism-environmental interaction and reciprocity between the self
and other. (p. 119)

To provide support for this proposition, Colby and Kohlberg (1987) reported the results

of two longitudinal cross-cultural studies, a study of moral judgment in Turkish males

and a study of Israeli kibbutz adolescents.

In the study of Turkish males, Colby, Kohlberg, and Nisan (1987) found that the

moral judgements of Turkish study participants fit the stage structures and sequence

proposed by Kohlberg's theory. The sequence observed, however, was limited to the first

four stages in Kohlberg's scheme, prompting the authors to suggest a continued

examination of the universality of stages 5 and 6 across cultures. These authors suggested

that it is possible that other cultures hold moral principles that are different from

American males, thus their moral reasoning may not fit the higher stage structures

described by Kohlberg.

Colby, Kohlberg, Snarey, and Reimer (1987) reported the findings of Kohlberg's

longitudinal study of 92 kibbutz adolescents. They found support for Kohlberg's theory

observing that the development of moral judgement in kibbutzniks followed the patterns








reported for samples in the U.S. and other cultures. Moreover, they observed that the

maturation of moral judgement in this population seemed to be accelerated when

compared to the other cultures studied, including the U.S. As a result, the kibbutz culture

inspired Kohlberg to model his idea for a moral education intervention, The Just

Community, after the democratically organized community exemplified in the Israeli

kibbutz (Power et al., 1989).

Others have also conducted cross-cultural studies frequently offering findings that

challenge Kohlberg's claim of universality (e.g., Edwards, 1987). Few, however, have

studied the relationship between moral reasoning and identification with an ethnic

minority within American society. For example, Narvaez and her co-authors (1999)

examined the relationship between ethnicity and moral theme comprehension by

evaluating participants' ratings of"ingroup" themes found in the moral message choices

of the MTI (e.g., Helping strangers instead of your friends can cause trouble. If you think

of others first instead of your family, your family may suffer.). Because there were too

few members for each minority group, they collapsed all ethnic categories into a "non-

white" category and compared it with "white". Even though the participant sample

included university students, only the 3rdand 5th grade children's scores were included in

this analysis because there was only one "non-white" university participant. The test was

significant meaning that "non-white" children rated the ingroupp" themes higher (i.e. "the

same" or "very much the same") than "white" children rated these same themes.

Hardman and Smith (2001) also used the MTI (Narvaez et al. 1999) to assess participants

ability to comprehend moral themes of cooperation; however, they did not analyze







63
respondents' ratings of"ingroup" themes. They did include ethnicity in their correlation

and regression analyses and found no significant effects for ethnicity.

Reading Comprehension

In 1993, William Bennett proclaimed that reading moral stories ("Book of

Virtues") to children would improve their moral literacy. Narvaez and her co-authors

(1999) challenged Bennett's prescription stating that little research had been done about

the influence of reading moral stories on the development of moral literacy. They

proposed that moral theme comprehension is an ability that is related to but separate from

reading comprehension. These authors developed the MTI as a way to assess children's

ability to comprehend moral themes in stories. Using the MTI children were asked

whether or not they understood the moral lessons from four stories and they were asked

to respond to reading comprehension questions for each story.

As a result, Narvaez et al. (1999) reported that developmental differences in moral

theme comprehension were evident even after reading comprehension was taken into

account. These authors found that the study participants assimilated the moral messages

of the stories to match their level of moral thinking or moral schema development.

Furthermore, results indicated that even when standardized reading comprehension and

vocabulary scores were used as covariates along with the reading comprehension items,

there were still significant differences between the 3rd and 5th grade students on moral

theme comprehension task. They argued that while these results are preliminary, they

support the proposition that moral text comprehension requires something beyond

reading comprehension. Moreover, they concluded that it is possible to use an objective

method to peer into the moral mind of the child and recommended continued research








examining such things as the differences between moral and non-moral theme

comprehension, the relation between moral theme comprehension and scores on moral

judgment interviews, and whether certain kinds of moral themes are understood

developmentally sooner than other moral themes.

Summary

The cognitive developmental perspective of the development of morality in

children is grounded in the assumption that children create knowledge as a result of a bi-

directional relationship between thinking and experience. Reasoning is conceptualized as

an intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between the things children do

and the consequences that ensue (Dewey, 1916/1944). The development ofjudgement,

however, is couched in a developmental process that may constrain or facilitate higher

stages of thinking (Piaget, 1932/1965).

In 1932, Piaget conducted a study of children's moral reasoning, employing a

cognitive-developmental approach to describe and explain the phenomenon. Assuming

that children construct their moral realities as a result of their mental and physical

actions, Piaget examined how nature and experience influence children's understanding

of morality. As a result, Piaget authored the first stage theory describing the development

of morality as a cognitively structured, maturational process. Piaget identified four

developmental stages that define children's practice of rules. These four stages are

sensorimotor, egocentric stage, cooperation stage, codification of rules. Through the

practice of rules (experience), children also develop a consciousness of rules (thinking),

in three stages: nonmoral; heteronomous morality; autonomous morality.








In 1987, Colby and Kohlberg authored what might be one of the finest examples

of a stage theory (Higgins, 1995). Their theoretical framework was based on deontic

reasoning; that is, questions involving judgements of rightness, duties, and rights. These

authors defined moral judgements as (a) judgements of value, not of fact; (b) social

judgements, involving people; and (c) prescriptive or normative judgements, judgements

of duty, or rights and responsibilities rather than value judgements of liking or

preference. Moreover, moral judgements are prescriptive because they command or

oblige a prescribed course of action and are derived from some rule or principle of action

that the speaker takes as binding. For example, moral judgements are different from

social-conventional judgements (i.e., judgements about dress, manners) because

conventional judgements are relative to a particular situation; whereas, moral judgements

are unalterable and universal. Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) identified six stages of moral

reasoning, grouped into three levels: the preconventional level which includes

punishment obedience and personal reward orientations; the conventional level which

includes good boy/nice girl and law and order orientations; and the principled or

postconventional level which includes social contract and universal ethical principle

orientations.

The structural theories of moral development posed by Piaget (1932/1965) and

Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) have received substantial attention from child development

researchers investigating the development of morality in children. In this regard,

researchers have focused their efforts primarily on the development of moral reasoning as

an invariant sequence of developmental stages (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones & Gall, 1995),

as a function of social domains (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995), and as a reflection of







66
cultural norms and values (e.g., Brown et al., 1995; Shweder et al., 1987). Nevertheless,

child development researchers have missed opportunities to examine the relationship

between moral reasoning and cultural issues relevant to our Western culture (i.e., poverty,

ethnicity), behavior, and emotion.

Since Piaget's (1932/1965) seminal study, researchers have generally relied on

the moral dilemma interview to elicit children's moral judgements (e.g. Bussey, 1992;

Nucci & Weber, 1995; Turiel et al., 1987). Recently, however, Narvaez et al. (1999)

developed the Moral Theme Inventory (MTI) which presents new opportunities for

research on the development of morality in children. The MTI was developed for use

with children and provides child development researchers with a standardized

complement to the moral dilemma interview.

Only three studies have examined moral reasoning in children with EBD, with

one of those being a pilot of the present study. None have examined the relationship

between moral reasoning and emotion. In this study, Hardman and Smith (2001) reported

that study participants with EBD demonstrated by their responses to the MTI (Narvaez et

al., 1999) and moral dilemmas presented by a researcher that they did not understand

moral themes of cooperation and that cooperation as a moral motivator was not a part of

their experience. Instead, the participants with EBD perceived morality as dictated by

external forces such as law and adult authority and not obligated from within. Moreover,

their moral reasoning appeared to be motivated by the avoidance of punishment and

trouble and seeking personal reward. Hardman and Smith concluded that the dominance

ofegocentrism in the responses of the students with EBD bears preliminary theoretically

significant implications and warrants further documentation. These researchers also








caution that SES and EBD were confounded; therefore, the relationship between EBD

and moral reasoning could not be evaluated independent of the significant effect found

for the variable SES.

The other two studies were both couched in a social domain perspective. Astor

(1994) and Astor and Behre (1997) found that violent, antisocial children view

provocation as causing such severe psychological harm that inflicting physical harm to

the perpetrator (hitting) is a morally appropriate response. These authors used this

interpretation of violent and non violent children's moral judgements to reach the

conclusion that violent, antisocial children reason more frequently in the moral domain

when compared with typical peers.

Of the seven independent variables targeted in the present study, only grade (or

age) and gender have received attention in the research literature. The influence of SES

on moral reasoning has not been examined since Colby, Kohlberg, and their colleagues

(1987) first identified this variable as one that is significantly related the development of

moral orientation. The relationship between EBD and moral reasoning has not been

addressed until recently (Astor & Behre, 1997, Hardman & Smith, 2001) and ethnicity,

too, has received little attention from researchers. Narvaez et al. (1999) have been the

only researchers to examine the dependence of moral theme comprehension on reading

comprehension and none of the moral development researchers has examined the

relationship between anger and moral reasoning, even though there is ample evidence to

suggest that emotion and cognition are related.













CHAPTER III
METHOD

In Chapter III, I present the research methods and procedures of the study. For the

purposes of presentation, the chapter has been divided into five sections. Because

researchers have not targeted moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD using

stage theory, I found it necessary to begin my inquiry with a pilot study. The methods,

procedures, and results of the pilot is followed by an introduction to the present study,

which includes a statement of research hypothesis and a description of the research

design. The final three sections provide a description of the setting and participants,

instrumentation, and research procedures.

Introduction to the Pilot Study

The purpose of the pilot was to explore the moral reasoning of 3rd, 4t, and 5th

grade students with EBD. Previously, researchers have not determined whether moral

reasoning in elementary students with EBD is different from their typical peers; however,

they have found that moral reasoning may be influenced by gender (e.g., Brown et al.,

1995; Gilligan 1982), culture (e.g., Edwards, 1987; Shweder et al., 1987), socioeconomic

status, and age (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). I targeted moral

reasoning in elementary-aged students because the number of students with EBD seems

to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3" 5th grade present the

best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary

years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget).








Because a disproportionate number of African American males and students with SES

characterize the population of students with EBD (Kauffman, 1995), I also examined the

effects of SES, ethnicity, and gender on moral reasoning. Moreover, I included reading

comprehension in my analyses because researchers have found it to be strongly related to

moral theme comprehension (Narvaez et al., 1999).

Statement of Research Hypothesis

Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following hypothesis:

When accounting for gender, ethnicity, reading comprehension, SES, atypical/typical

group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship between reading

comprehension and atypical/typical group and moral theme comprehension.

Research Design

I employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to address the

hypothesis. I used causal comparative methods to explore the relationship between EBD

and moral reasoning in typical and atypical samples and case study research methods to

explore themes and relationships in students' thinking at the case level, thereby adding

depth and richness to the quantitative results. Ex post facto criterion-group research is a

causal comparative design used when the researcher arrives at the scene after the

treatment has been administered (Shavelson, 1996). According to Gall, Borg, and Gall

(1996) the primary objective is to discover possible causes and effects of a behavior

pattern or personal characteristic by comparing individuals in whom it is present with

individuals in whom it is absent, or present to a lesser degree. The causal comparative

design allows the determination of difference and, at the same time, an analysis of the

relationships several variables. Thus, causal comparative methodology is particularly








useful when cause-and-effect relationships are not amenable to experimental

manipulation. A disadvantage of causal-comparative research, however, is that the task of

establishing causality becomes more difficult (Gall et al.). Therefore, the researcher must

use both theory and data to eliminate rival hypotheses and justify causal relations within

the proposed model (Shavelson).

Case study is a form of qualitative research that allows the researcher to study a

phenomenon in its natural context by focusing on specific instances or cases, thereby

conducting an in-depth analysis of each case from an emic (Gall et al., 1996). For

example, cognitive-developmental researchers have employed case study research to

examine children's moral reasoning by posing moral dilemmas or problems to elicit their

reasoning processes. Children's responses to these moral prompts are, then, submitted to

an analysis in which the researcher seeks a window into the basic motives, desires, and

intent of the informant's reasoning (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997). In some instances, talk

may be viewed as descriptive; that is, informants are treated as reporters on experience.

In case study research, however, talk is considered constituitive. The informant becomes

the author of experience (Gubrium & Holstein).

Setting and Participants

I conducted the pilot in one moderately sized school district with approximately

30,000 students in rural, Central Florida. I petitioned 23 elementary schools and one

special day school for students with serious emotional disturbance (SED) to participate in

the project. The principals often elementary schools and the special day school agreed to

participate. From the 11 participating schools, I selected a computer generated random

sample of 40 students from the 3rd, 40, and 5th grade general education population and 40








students from the 3r"d, 4 and 5t grade special education population designated as

emotionally handicapped (EH) or SED (n = 40). Parental consent letters were sent home

with the 80 randomly selected students and 42 students subsequently returned signed

consents. Interestingly, the informed consent process produced an equal number of study

participants for each group. One elementary school had only one student selected and that

student did not return a parental consent form, reducing the number of participating

schools to 10. Results of a one-sample chi-square test indicated that the final participant

sample (N = 42) did not differ proportionately from the random sample (N= 80) on any

of the variables of interest: grade, ethnicity, SES, gender, or behavior type (typical versus

atypical).

When the magnitude of the treatment effect is not directly under the researcher's

control, the researcher should investigate the treatment effect by pilot testing the study

(Shavelson, 1996). According to Shavelson, estimating the effect size is an important step

in planning a study because the greater the treatment effect, the greater the power of the

test to detect statistical difference and the probability of making a Type II error is

reduced. Because previous researchers have not included elementary students with EBD

in their samples, a pilot was necessary to estimate the magnitude of the treatment effect.

Shavelson (1996) identified three other factors that may also influence the power

of the statistical test: (a) variability in the population, (b) sample size; and (c) level of

significance. According to Shavelson, the power of the statistical test can be improved by

sampling subjects from a homogeneous population. Sample homogeneity, however, may

also reduce estimates of reliability, thereby limiting statistical power. Narvaez et al.

(1999) estimated the reliability of the MTI using a sample that included a wider age range








of respondents than those targeted in the pilot, creating additional concerns about

statistical power. Moreover, because the pilot was exploratory, sample sizes were small,

but reducing the sample size also limits the power of the test.

Finally, Shavelson (1996) stated that by decreasing the level of statistical

significance, the power of the test can be increased and the probability of making a Type

II error can be reduced. Usually researchers are conservative when setting the level of

significance (e.g., .05 or .01); however, since this was a pilot study, the probability of

making a Type II error increased in importance. Therefore, I set alpha at .10 for all

analyses to increase statistical power because there was no information about the

expected magnitude of effect sizes from previous research, participant samples were

small, and the reliability of the MTI using a limited age range was not known.

A chi-square analysis comparing the group of students with EBD (n = 21) and

their typical peers (n = 21) on each variable of interest (i.e., gender, ethnicity, SES,

grade) was significant (a = .10) for SES, x2 (1, N = 21) = 9.528, p = .002 and ethnicity,

X2 (1, N = 21) = 3.055, p = .081, indicating that the participants with EBD included

proportionately more minority children and more children from low SES families when

compared with typical peers. All other proportions were within chance expectations (i.e.,

gender, grade).

I purposively selected three students from the participant sample of students with

EBD to participate in moral dilemma interviews. The sample included two female

students, one 4th grader and one 5th grader, and one 3rd grade male student. The 3r" and

4 graders attended the same school, but were not in the same classroom. All three

participants attended special classes for students with EBD.








Pilot Study Instrumentation

Moral Theme Inventory (MTI)

The purpose of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) is to assess students' ability to

understand the themes of cooperation in moral stories as the author intended or as they

distort them to match their developmental level of moral reasoning. The MTI requires

respondents to listen to four stories and respond to five tasks for each story. It is given in

two 50-minute periods and yields two composite scores: reading comprehension and

moral theme comprehension. The reading comprehension task includes 10 true-false

reading comprehension questions for each of the four stories. The moral theme

comprehension composite is a 12-item test that includes four tasks: (a) rate how well four

vignettes match the story's theme on a five point Lickert scale, (b) select the vignette that

best matches the story theme, (c) select two theme choices that best match the story

theme, and (d) rate how well 7 or 8 theme choices match the story theme on a five-point

Lickert scale. All stories and response choices are on audiotape.

Reliability and validity. Narvaez and her co-authors (1999) used the responses of

two pilot groups to generate the moral themes and distortions included in the theme rating

and theme selection tasks. The MTI was, then, administered to a sample that included 50-

3rd graders and 54 5h graders selected from one public elementary school and 28 adults

enrolled in an educational psychology class at a public university. As a result of this

administration of the MTI, Narvaez et al. (1999) reported a Cronbach alpha reliability of

.89 for the moral theme comprehension composite and an alpha of.81 for the reading

comprehension composite. Using pilot results, I calculated a Cronbach alpha reliability of







74
.74 for the moral theme composite and a Cronbach alpha reliability of.83 for the reading

comprehension task.

Moral Dilemma Interview

I used three types of moral dilemmas to elicit informants' moral judgements:

Kohlbergian (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a); Piagetian (see Piaget, 1932/1965); and

literature based using the characters and setting found in the children's book, The Boxcar

Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The Boxcar Children is a story about the

adventures of four children who have lost both parents and are trying to live on their own.

I varied the dilemma type to examine the consistency of children's reasoning across

dilemmas, and I created The Boxcar Children dilemmas to provide an increased focus on

the issue of obedience to an external authority, a dominant theme of children's reasoning

(Colby & Kohlberg; Piaget).

Over the course of three 30 to 45-minute interviews, informants listened to a total

of eight hypothetical dilemmas. Each dilemma presented a conflict between two moral

issues (e.g., obedience to authority versus obedience to conscience), requiring informants

to make a choice as to which issue should take priority in the hypothetical situation.

Immediately following the reading of each dilemma, I asked informants to demonstrate

an adequate understanding of the pertinent facts and issues presented in the dilemma,

providing reviews when necessary. After informants demonstrated an adequate level of

comprehension, I asked them to make an issue choice. Following a statement of the

informants' issue choice, I probed the informant's reasoning about their choice to elicit

moral judgements and I also probed their reasoning about the issue that was not favored








to generate additional information about the consistency of informants' reasoning

processes.

Reliability and validity. Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) evaluated construct validity

for the Moral Judgment Interview by how well the data match the hypothesized

theoretical framework for the development of moral reasoning. Thus, evidence of

construct validity is represented in a good fit between the patterns discovered and theory.

To the extent that individuals' responses to hypothetical dilemmas predict real-life moral

judgements, Colby and Kohlberg concluded that this element of validity is limited by the

absence of techniques for scoring real-life moral judgements.

Data Collection

Moral Theme Inventory

I created an SPSS Base 10.0 file that included a list of student numbers,

participant numbers, and extant data (i.e., atypical/typical group, SES, ethnicity, gender,

and grade). Every participant (42) completed the Moral Theme Inventory (MT) (Narvaez

et al., 1999) at their schools and at a time and place arranged by the school counselor.

The MTI was given in two 50-minute sessions and in each session, students listened to

two stories and responded to five tasks for each story (i.e., reading comprehension task

and four moral theme comprehension tasks). A research assistant scored participants'

responses to the MTI and entered them into the SPSS Base 10.0 file. The scores of four

participants with EBD were eliminated from the data analysis procedures because of

missing data on some of the moral theme comprehension tasks.

I interviewed each of the 3 informants three times at their schools with each

interview lasting approximately 30-45 minutes. The time and date for each interview was








arranged with the informant's teacher. In the event of absences, interview appointments

were rescheduled. All interviews were audiotaped and upon the completion of Interview

III, I gave each participant a copy The Boxcar Children. Interviewing began on May 1,

2000 and was completed on June 2, 2000.

As a result of this data gathering procedure, I conducted a total of 9 interviews (3

students x 3 interviews). A student assistant transcribed all interviews into a word

processing file and I entered them into The Ethnograph (v5.0) for coding and analysis.

Each informant was given a code name, using the names of the three older children in

The Boxcar Children Warner, 1977). The 3rd grade male participant was given the name

Henry, the 4h grade female participant was given the name Violet, and the 5th grade

female participant was assigned the name Jessie. The 9 interviews produced yielded 130

pages of interview protocol.

Moral Dilemma Interview

I used a modified form of standard issue scoring (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a)

to interpret informants' responses to eight moral dilemmas. Each dilemma presented a

conflict between two moral issues (e.g., obedience to authority versus obedience to

conscience), requiring informants to make a choice as to which issue should take priority

in the hypothetical situation. Table 3.1 lists the stories by title and the conflict in values

posed by each dilemma and the definitions for each issue choice are presented in Table

3.2.

Comprehension. I initiated the interpretive process by first evaluating informants'

comprehension of the moral dilemmas. Immediately following the telling of each

dilemma, I asked the informants' a few comprehension questions to generate data about








their basic understanding of the facts and issues presented in the dilemma. Whenever

informants responded to these questions with confusion about any pertinent issues or

Table 3.1

Issues Represented in Eight Dilemmas


Dilemma Interview Issue


Heinz's Dilemma

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Louise's Dilemma

Father's Pen

Mother's Scissors

Doing Chores

The Foolish Brother

The Long Walk

The Boxcar Children

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Life versus Law

Conscience versus Law

Conscience versus Punishment

Authority versus Contract

Conscience versus Punishment

Punishment versus Fairness

Authority versus Contract

Authority versus Affiliation

Fairness: Equity versus Equality



Affiliation versus Authority

Affiliation versus Law

Affiliation versus Life


facts, I reviewed the story and continued asking comprehension questions until the child

demonstrated an adequate understanding. When the informant and I were both

comfortable with the level of comprehension, I then proceeded with questions designed






78

to probe the informants reasoning processes. Therefore, the first interpretive task was to

examine all data coded comprehension to evaluate informants' understanding of the

dilemmas. As a result of this analysis, I determined that every informant seemed to have

an adequate understanding of the issues and facts presented in the dilemmas. Thus, I

proceeded with the analysis of informants reasoning processes by segmenting their

responses into two broad categories, issue choice (IC) and moral judgement (MJ).

Issue choice. The purpose of all eight dilemmas was to present the informant with

a conflict between two moral issues, so after listening to a dilemma and reviewing the

basic issues and facts presented, I asked each informant to choose the issue that should

take priority. Informants usually made clear issue choices following the comprehension

probes; however, occasionally they had to work through their justifications for each

choice and then make a decision after examining the pros and cons indicated by each

choice. Ultimately, informants made clear issue choices in all instances, resulting in a

total of 36 issue choices (12 choices x 3 informants).

Moral judgement. The next interpretive task was to examine informants'

justifications for their issue choices as expressed in their moral judgements. A segment of

text was categorized as a moral judgement (MJ) when the justification was prescriptive

(i.e., included words like "should" and "ought") and the informant identified a valued

norm (e.g., authority) and a moral element (e.g., obey to avoid punishment) that provided

a reason for valuing the norm (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). This analysis produced 247

MJs that were submitted to further analysis to identify valued norms and moral elements.

Norm. The norm is the component of the MJ that represents the moral values) or

objects) of concern that is being brought to bear by the informant in justifying the issue








choice in the dilemma (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). Thus, the norms informants valued in

supporting their issue choices could include norms other than those presented in the issue

choice. For example, in "Heinz's Dilemma", informants were presented with a conflict

between the issues of stealing a drug to save the life of one's wife (IC life) or upholding

the law and not stealing (IC law). In this example, informants might choose the law issue

(not steal), but could justify the IC law by valuing the norms property, law, affiliation,

and/or conscience. An informant could decide to "not steal" because it is against the law

or they could decide to "not steal" because it's not right to take someone else's proDerty

without asking. I also probed their reasoning on issues not favored. The purpose of those

probes was to generate additional information about the informants' reasoning processes

and the consistency of their reasoning across issues. Table 3.2 provides a list of the norms

informants valued to justify their issue choices.

Moral element. To complete the moral judgement, the informant must give a

reason for endowing the norm with value. This segment of an MJ is called the moral

element and is categorized as either a modal or value element. (Colby & Kohlberg,

1987a). According to Colby and Kohlberg, a model element expresses the mood or

modality of the moral language and included words such as should, must, deserves, and

has a right. Sometimes informants offered only modal elements as terminal values or

justifications. For example, when asked why stealing is wrong, an informant might

simply reply, "It's just wrong", failing to provide a terminal value element in explaining

why stealing is wrong. This kind of response indicates that the informant is speaking

from a normative order orientation in which maintaining the norm is an end in itself. In








Table 3.2

Norms Valued and Their Definitions


Norm Definition


affiliation maintaining relationship

authority obligated by an authority figure

conscience obligated by good intentions

contract keeping promises

fairness issuing justice with equity or equality

law obligated by law or rules

life maintaining quality or quantity of life

property respecting property rights

punishment obligated by fear of retribution


contrast, value elements represent ultimate ends, values, or reasons set forth by the

informant as the terminal value in the MJ. For example, when an informant says that

stealing is wrong because "you might go to jail", the informant is expressing the

avoidance of punishment as the terminal value. Table 3.3 lists the modal and value

elements found within informants' MJs in response to the moral dilemmas posed.








Table 3.3

The Moral Elements


Modal Elements

Upholding normative order

1. Obeying/consulting persons or deity. Should obey, get consent (should consult,

persuade.

2. Blaming/approving. Should be blamed for, disapproved (should be approved).

3. Retributing/exonerating. Should retribute against (should exonerate).

4. Having a right/having no right.

5. Having a duty/having no duty.


Egoistic consequences

1. Seeking reward/avoiding punishment

2. Avoiding trouble for oneself


ue Elements

Ideal or harmony-serving consequences

1. Serving a social ideal or harmony

2. Fairness: equality versus equity

3. Balancing perspectives or role taking

4. Good/bad consequences for others


Pilot Study Results

The results of a simultaneous multiple regression analysis indicated that the

coefficients for SES (B = 4.009, p = .080) and reading comprehension (B = .516, p =

.001) were significant. The coefficient for typical/atypical group was not significant;

however, correlation results showed that EBD and SES were confounded. Therefore, the







82
significance of the relationship between EBD and moral theme comprehension could not

be determined with these data.

An analysis of interview data suggested that 3r grade Henry and 5h grade Jessie's

moral judgements were dominated by a Punishment/Obedience Orientation, but also

contained frequent references to an individualistic perspective consistent with a Personal

Reward Orientation. In contrast, 4't grade Violet's moral orientation seemed to be almost

entirely consistent with a Personal Reward Orientation. A synthesis of the quantitative

and qualitative results provided evidence that students in the EBD sample may rely on

preconventional reasoning to guide their moral judgement. These results, however,

should be viewed with caution since EBD and SES were confounded in both data

sources. Preconventional reasoning is characterized by a morality that is obligated by

external forces, such as adults, law, and punishment, and is motivated by egoistic

concerns. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings bear significant

import and warrant further investigation using a larger sample in which SES is controlled.

Introduction To The Present Study

Cognitive developmental researchers portray the development of morality as a

maturational progression through a series of qualitatively different stages (e.g., Colby &

Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). Typically, researchers use the moral dilemma

interview to gather data about children's reasoning processes (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg;

Piaget), however, the recent development of the Moral Theme Inventory (Narvaez, et al.,

1999) presents a unique opportunity for child development researchers to integrate

quantitative and qualitative research methods to facilitate theory building and increase

explanatory power. In the present study I integrated qualitative and quantitative research







83
methods to extend the pilot findings by adapting sampling procedures to control for SES,

a variable known to be confounded with EBD, and by examining the influence of trait

anger on the development of moral reasoning. The most prevalent types of EBD are

externalizing disorders that include maladaptive behavior in the form of aggression,

disruption, and antisocial behavior (Kauffman et al., 1987). Thus, the variable trait anger

was added because it is commonly recognized as the underlying affective component of

externalizing disorders (Walker et al., 1995). Therefore, the purpose of the present study

is to explore the relationships among behavior, trait anger (emotion), and moral reasoning

(cognition) in a sample of elementary students with EBD and their typical peers while

controlling for SES.

Statement of Research Hypothesis

The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to

examine the relationships among moral reasoning, trait anger, and EBD. I included

elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD seems to increase

rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3r 5t grade present the best

opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary years

provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget,

1932/1965). Because the population of students with EBD is characterized by a

disproportionate number of African American males and students with low SES

(Kauffman, 1995), I included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also included

reading comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional variable, and

the student's grade in school to gauge developmental change.









Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following research

hypothesis: When accounting for the variables gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading

comprehension, SES, atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant

positive relationship between reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension

and a significant negative relationship between trait anger and moral theme

comprehension.

Design

To implement the present study, I replicated the same research design described

in the pilot. I integrated quantitative and qualitative research methods using an ex post

facto criterion group design and case study research to facilitate an in-depth study of

informants' moral reasoning processes. An ex post facto criterion group design prescribes

a type of quantitative methodology grounded in the assumption that features of the social

environment constitute an independent reality and are relatively constant across time and

settings. According to Gall et al. (1996), the objective is to discover possible causes and

effects of a behavior pattern or personal characteristic by comparing individuals in whom

it is present with individuals in whom it is absent, or present to a lesser degree. The

researcher collects data on observable behaviors of samples and then subjects these data

to numerical analysis and interpretations that can be generalized to populations.

In contrast, qualitative methodology implied by case study research requires the

study of phenomena in natural settings as a subjective reality (Gall et al., 1996). In case

study research, researchers interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to

them (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). Thus, the objective is to obtain intricate details about

phenomena such as feelings, thought processes, and emotions that are difficult to extract








or learn through more conventional research methods (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The

researcher treats social facts as things and interprets them with the aim of describing and

explaining relationships among concepts (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997). Therefore, the

qualitative researcher is concerned primarily with process (Creswell, 1994), and the

interpretive activities persons undertake, moment by moment, to construct, manage, and

sustain the sense that their social worlds exist as factual and objectively "there" (Gubrium

& Holstein).

According to Gall et al. (1996), when the researcher uses a multiple-case design,

the generalizability of constructs and themes across cases can be checked by noting

whether a particular theme observed in one case also is present in the other cases. The

generalizability of case study results to individuals or situations beyond those included in

a particular study is problematic. Therefore, case study results are limited in

generalizability and cannot be inferred to the situations and persons beyond those

included in the study.

Sampling

Design requirements. When researchers want to draw inferences from a sample to

a population, the statistical model requires a random selection of participants (Shavelson,

1996). A random sample allows each member of the population an equal and independent

chance of being included in the sample. When the assumption of random selection is

satisfied, sample findings can be generalized to a known population (Shavelson).

Stratified random sampling is a sampling technique researchers use to achieve balanced

representation on a variable of interest when the researcher wants to be certain that

subgroups in the population are adequately represented (Gall et al., 1996). Since






86
socioeconomic status (SES) is a variable known to influence moral reasoning (e.g., Colby

& Kohlberg, 1987a; Hardman & Smith, 2001) and is also significantly related to EBD

(Hardman & Smith), I employed stratified random sampling techniques to equalize the

atypical and typical samples on the variable SES.

Sampling procedures. I initiated sampling procedures by submitting an

application to conduct research in 43 elementary schools and three special education

centers for students with severe emotional disturbance (SED) in two moderately sized,

rural school districts located in Central Florida. Only 19 of the 24 schools in district one

agreed to participate in the study, so the sample selected in district one represents a

subpopulation within that district. Every school in district two agreed to participate,

thereby increasing the external validity of these results.

The sample selection process was different for each district, so I describe the

selection process separately for each one. I selected 100 students from district one and 60

students from district two. I divided the sample in this way because district one was

larger and was able to provide a computer generated sample. The sample selection

process in district two had to be done by hand, requiring more time and effort.

School district one. I submitted an application to conduct research to the

principals of 23 elementary schools and one special day school for students with EBD.

Only 19 of the 24 applications were returned with 12 elementary schools and the school

for students with SED agreeing to participate and six elementary schools declining. To

stratify the sample on the variable SES, I requested a computer-generated list of all 3rd,

4t, and 5th grade students with EBD in participating schools who were not eligible for

free/reduced lunch. This request produced a list of 13 students, so I purposively selected







87
those 13 children and requested a computer-generated random selection of an additional

37 3d, 4h, and 5th grade students with EBD, bringing the number of students in the

EBD sample to 50. I then selected a random sample of 50 3rd, 4h, and 5t grade students

from the general population in participating schools using a 13:37 ratio of free/reduced

lunch to full pay students. As a result, sampling procedures in district one yielded a total

sample of 100 students selected from 12 elementary schools and one school for students

with EBD.

School district two. All 19 elementary schools and the 2 special day schools for

students with EBD agreed to participate in the study. I requested a list of student numbers

for all 3rd, 4, and 5th grade students with EBD and their typical peers. Using a random

number table, I selected 30 3", 4t, and 5h grade students from the general education

population, observing that 11 were eligible for free/reduced lunch and 19 were full pay

students. To stratify the special education sample to match the general education sample

on SES, I separated the list of special education student numbers into two lists,

free/reduced lunch (94 students) and full pay (21 students). I, then, randomly selected 11

free/reduced lunch students and 19 full pay students to participate in the study. As a

result, sampling procedures in district two yielded a sample of 60 students representing

19 elementary schools and two special day schools for students with SED. Sampling

efforts in both districts yielded a final sample of 80 3r, 4t, and 5' grade students with

EBD and 80 3", 4th, and 5" grade typical peers (N = 160) selected from 31 elementary

schools and three special day schools for students with SED.

After completing the informed consent process, I purposively selected an

informant sample of 12 students from the participant sample that would represent an








equal distribution on the variables group, grade, and SES. I selected six students with

EBD and six typical peers. Each group, EBD and typical peers, included two students

from each grade (3d, 4th, and 5th) and one student from each group and grade was chosen

from the free/reduced lunch participants and one student from each group and grade was

chosen from the full pay participants.

Setting and Participants

Setting

The present study was conducted in two moderately sized school districts

(approximately 30,000 students each) in rural, Central Florida. One district had 24

elementary schools and one school for students with serious emotional disturbance (SED)

and the other had 19 elementary schools and two schools for students with SED.

Participants

Teachers in both school districts sent home informed consent letters for all

students included in the random sample (N=160) and subsequently obtained consent from

the parent/guardians of 42 students with EBD and 40 typical peers. Each parent/guardian

received two letters, one giving permission to take the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) and the

Feelings Ouestionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984) and another giving permission for

participation in moral dilemma interviews. Every consenting parent, however, returned

both letters. Students in four elementary schools in district two failed to return any letters,

reducing the number of participating elementary schools to 27. Appendix A contains

copies of both informed consents.

Before data collection began, two participants with EBD and two typical peers

participants moved. One student with EBD refused to participate during data collection,








reducing the final participant sample to 77. Results of a one-sample chi-square test (a =

.05) indicated that the final participant sample (77) did not differ proportionately from the

random sample (160) on any of the demographic variables of interest; that is, grade,

ethnicity, SES, gender, or atypical/typical group.

Table 3.4 presents the results of a chi-square analysis of group differences

between the group of students with EBD (atypical group) (n = 39) and their typical peers

(n = 38) on each demographic variable of interest (i.e., gender, ethnicity, SES, or grade)

using a one-sample chi-square test. The results of the test were significant (a = .05) for

gender, x2 (1, N = 39) = 9.231, p= .002, grade, X2 (2, N = 39) = 35.250, p< .001, and

ethnicity X2 (1, N = 39) = 7.385, p = .007. Consistent with previous findings, the

participants with EBD included proportionately more minority students and males when

compared with typical peers. The significant result for grade indicated that the group of

students with EBD was older than the group of typical peers as measured by grade in

school. The chi square result for SES was non-significant, suggesting that the stratified

Table 3.4

One-Sample Chi-Square Test of Atypical Sample


df Z2 Significance


Gender 1 9.231 .002

Grade 2 35.250 <.001

Ethnicity 1 7.385 .007

SES 1 .506 .477

a =.0




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WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
MORAL REASONING IN ELEMENTARY CHILDREN WITH
EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS
GO \
in
Jcaj
I
By
ELIZABETH LONG HARDMAN
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2002

Copyright 2002
by
Elizabeth Long Hardman

I dedicate this dissertation to a former student.
For William
A four-year-old who taught me about patience, persistence, and unconditional love

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to recognize the contributions of the members of my dissertation
committee: Dr. Stephen W. Smith, Chair; Dr. David Miller; Dr. Hazel Jones; Dr.
Maureen Conroy; and Dr. Cecil Mercer. Dr. Smith’s feedback was a critical element in
the preparation and funding of two grant applications, which ultimately provided valuable
support in the completion of the pilot and dissertation study. Dr. Miller’s careful attention
to my research and data analysis procedures directed me down the straight and narrow
path of a competent, ethical researcher while, at the same time, providing patient teaching
to a novice investigator. I would also like to thank Dr. Jones, Dr. Conroy, and Dr.
Mercer, for offering me guidance and support as my doctoral program unfolded and the
Graduate School of Education, which provided financial support and words of
encouragement throughout my program.
I also owe a great deal of gratitude to the Spencer Foundation faculty who
provided valuable support in the early stages of the development of my study. Dr.
Michael Olneck from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Geneva Gay from
the University of Washington spent hours with me critiquing and challenging my
thinking as I defined the purposes of my study and developed my research hypothesis. In
addition, I give credit to Dr. Robert Enright, my national mentor at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, for identifying the anger connection, which proved to be vital in
interpreting the relationship between children’s experiences and the development of
moral orientation. Finally, I want to acknowledge the contribution of Michele Gregoire,
IV

another Spencer Fellow representing the University of Florida. Michele patiently guided
me through the data analysis procedures and provided valuable feedback as I developed
my ideas.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the sacrifices made by my family in support
of my studies. My husband, Chris, spent many nights at home alone and was forced to
learn how to cook, clean, and maintain a household in my absence. My children, Emily
and Jack, supported my studies by patiently waiting for spring breaks and Christmas
holidays to receive any attention from their spiritually and physically absentee mother. I
could not have made it through the doctoral process without love and support from my
family.
v

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iv
LIST OF TABLES ¡x
ABSTRACT x
CHAPTERS
I INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM 1
Statement of the Problem 4
Current Approaches 4
The Student With EBD 7
The Cognitive-Developmental Approach 10
Purpose and Objectives of the Study 12
Rationale 12
Cognition 13
Behavior 15
Emotion 17
Definition of Terms 20
Delimitations of the Study 24
Limitations of the Study 25
Summary 25
Overview of the Remaining Chapters 27
II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 28
Theory Development 28
Piaget’s Theory 29
Piaget’s Study 30
Kohlberg’s Contribution 35
Relevant Research 41
Evidence for Stages 42
Evidence for Social Domains 46
Social Constructivists Challenges 49
A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral Education 50
Review of Seven Independent Variables 52
Socioeconomic Status 53
vi

Grade 54
Gender 55
Anger 57
Emotional/Behavior Disorders (EBD) 59
Ethnicity 61
Reading Comprehension 63
Summary 64
III METHOD 68
Introduction to the Pilot Study 68
Statement of Research Hypothesis 69
Research Design 69
Setting and Participants 70
Pilot Instrumentation 73
Moral Theme Inventory 73
Moral Dilemma Interview 74
Data Collection 75
Moral Theme Inventory 75
Moral Dilemma Interview 76
Pilot Study Results 81
Introduction to the Present Study 82
Statement of Research Hypothesis 83
Design 84
Sampling 85
Setting and Participants 88
Setting 88
Participants 88
Instrumentation 90
Moral Theme Inventory 90
Moral Dilemma Interview 92
Feelings Questionnaire 93
Research Procedures 96
Data Collection and Analysis 96
VI RESULTS 99
Causal Comparative Results 99
Bivariate Correlations 100
Simultaneous Multiple Regression 102
Case Study Results 103
Issue Choice 105
Moral Judgement 107
Moral Orientation 114
Summary of the Results 120
vii

V DISCUSSION
123
Overview of the Study 124
Summary of the Findings 125
Discussion 126
Causal Comparative Results 127
Case Study Results 130
Relationships 132
Just and Unjust Relationships 134
Feelings 139
Moral Orientation 144
Experience and the Development of Moral Orientation 150
Limitations 150
Implications 153
Professional Practice 154
Teacher Preparation 155
Future Research 156
APPENDICES
A UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW 157
B RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS 164
Moral Theme Inventory 165
Feelings Questionnaire 190
Moral Dilemma Interview 197
REFERENCES 210
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 220
viii

LIST OF TABLES
Table E3g§
2.1 Piaget’s Theory 33
2.2 Kohlberg’s Theory 41
3.1 Issues Presented in Eight Dilemmas 77
3.2 Norms Valued and Their Definitions 80
3.3 The Moral Elements 81
4.1 Means and Standard Deviations By Group and Grade 100
4.2 Correlation Coefficients Among Seven Variables 101
4.3 Simultaneous Multiple Regression Analysis 103
4.4 Summary of Issue Choice By Group 106
4.5 Summary of Norms Valued By Interview for Typical Peers 109
4.6 Summary of Norms Valued By Interview for Students with EBD . 110
4.7 By Group Summary of Moral Elements and Value Elements 114
4.8 Moral Orientation By Group 120
ix

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
MORAL REASONING IN ELEMENTARY CHILDREN WITH
EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS
By
Elizabeth Long Hardman
May, 2002
Chair: Stephen W. Smith
Major Department: Special Education
Moral education is the cornerstone of public education with the classroom
community providing the environment in which students learn to think and act as morally
responsible citizens. While most students seem to benefit from the moral lessons taught
in the classroom, students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) are placed in
special education specifically because they do not. Therefore, the purpose of this study
was to employ a cognitive-developmental approach to examine moral reasoning in 3rd,
4th, and 5,h grade students with EBD and their typical peers. Specifically, I collected and
analyzed data to address the following hypothesis. When accounting for the variables
gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading comprehension, socioeconomic status (SES),
atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship between
reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension and a significant negative
relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension.

Results of the correlation analyses showed that ethnicity, SES, reading
comprehension, and trait anger were significantly related to students’ ability to
comprehend moral themes in stories. When accounting for all seven independent
variables, however, only trait anger was found to be a significant predictor of
respondents’ scores. Case study results indicated that the reasoning of informants with
EBD and many of their typical peers with low SES appeared to be self-focused, while
only two middle-income typical peers voiced other-focused moral judgements. These
results seem to question the sufficiency of the developmental process to direct the
development of children’s moral judgement and suggest that experience may play a more
influential role in its development.
Results indicate that the meaningful inclusion of all children in the learning
community may be vital to the formation of responsible citizens and may prevent the
development of EBD for some children. To understand the importance of including all
students in the learning community, preservice teacher preparation should include the
study ethics and preservice teachers should be given opportunities to participate in
democratic learning communities. Future research should include rigorous inquiries into
the causal relationships among behavior, emotion, and moral judgement, but such
inquiries will require the development of valid measures of emotion, behavior, and moral
judgement.
xt

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM
Moral education is the cornerstone of America’s public education system.
Historian Edward McClellan (1999) described the moral education of America’s children
as an “article of faith” central to the creation of the public education and, in 1916,
philosopher John Dewey proclaimed schools as environments framed with the expressed
purpose of shaping children’s mental and moral dispositions. Although moral education
was originally conceived as an extension of the moral training children received at home
(McClellan), modem supporters of moral education charge that the school, not the
family, bears the responsibility for developing a moral citizenry. According to Emile
Durkheim (1961)
[T]he general principle that the domain of the genuinely moral life only
begins where the collective life begins-or, in other words, that we are
moral beings only to the extent that we are social beings, (p. 64)... The
family, especially today, is a very small group of persons who know each
other intimately and who are constantly in contact with one another. As a
result, their relationships are not subject to any general, impersonal,
immutable regulation, (p. 147)
Hence, the classroom community becomes an appropriate, naturally occurring context in
which students can learn to think and act as morally responsible citizens.
While most students seem to benefit from the moral lessons experienced in the
classroom community, students with emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD) are placed in
special education specifically because they do not (Kauffman, 1995). Since 1987, the
number of students with EBD has increased by 20% and most of this increase occurred
1

2
during the elementary school years (Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP],
1998). Moreover, researchers warn that these figures may significantly underestimate the
actual prevalence of EBD among elementary school children (Kauffman). In a recent
report, OSEP addressed the import of this alarming trend by admonishing, “Failure to
address the needs of students with emotional disturbance is a portent for poor community
results as well as poor academic results” (OSEP, Section II, Module 5, p. 41). The
growing number of students who develop EBD during the elementary school years and
the ensuing adverse individual and community consequences enjoin continued focused
attention on the problem and its possible solutions.
Evidence suggests, however, that the school may be falling short of its
responsibility to develop moral citizens when it come to the education of students with
EBD. The warning signs of emerging antisocial behavior patterns are often present at the
point of school entry and appear to be elaborated, not remediated, during the elementary
school years (Golly, Sprague, Walker, & Groham, 2000). For example, young children
who present significant behavior problems at age 3 or 4 have a 50:50 probability of
continuing to show behavior problems as they mature (Webster-Stratton, 1997). In fact,
researchers have found that the stability of aggressive and antisocial behavior, a common
characteristic of students with EBD, is equal to that of IQ and provides the single best
predictor of delinquency in adolescence (Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995).
Researchers project that failure to meet the moral and mental development needs
of young children who exhibit antisocial and aggressive behavior may result in serious,
life-altering consequences (Walker et al., 1995). The first of these life-altering
consequences may occur when the child is designated eligible for a special education

3
program for students with EBD. Although the general education classroom has become
the primary educative context for the general population of students with disabilities,
students with EBD are more likely to be placed in the most restrictive educational
settings (OSEP, 1998). For example, recent OSEP figures indicate that 55% of all
students with disabilities are served in the general education classroom, but only 26% of
students with EBD are included in the classrooms with their typical peers. Although 18%
of all children with disabilities are served in special classrooms and only 2% are served in
special facilities, 40% of students with EBD are served in separate classes and 12% are
sequestered from the mainstream in special facilities. Moreover, as elementary students
with EBD continue through school and beyond, their chances of reentering the general
education classroom are slim (Kauffman, 1995) and they bear an increased risk for a
variety of long term negative consequences such as school dropout, low employment
rates, drug and alcohol abuse, relationship problems, higher hospitalization and mortality
rates (Walker et al., 1995), and incarceration (U.S. Department of Education, 1994).
Researchers advise early intervention as a critical element in the prevention and
effective treatment of EBD, but state that students with EBD are not benefiting from
early intervention and prevention because serious emotional/behavioral problems are not
identified early enough to prevent the chronic and likely life-long disability of EBD (e.g.,
Fomess, Kavale, MacMillan, Asamow, & Duncan, 1996; Kauffman, 1995) and general
and special classroom environments are not adequate to meet the needs of children who
present serious emotional/behavioral problems (e.g., Kauffman, Lloyd, Baker, & Riedel,
1995). Moreover, researchers warn that some children will develop EBD in spite of

4
educators’ best efforts at early intervention and prevention (Landrum & Tankersley,
1999; Webster-Stratton, 1997).
Statement of the Problem
The classroom community may be falling short of its commission to positively
influence the moral education of elementary students with EBD. The task, however, is
complex and difficult to realize. An emotional/behavioral disorders is a multifaceted
disability whose dimensions and developmental course are not clearly understood
(Kauffman, 1995). Therefore, the sometimes elusive task of positively influencing their
social behavior underscores the need to reexamine current approaches to the moral
education of students with EBD and to explore the promise of employing a previously
unexplored paradigm, the cognitive-developmental approach, to advance current
knowledge and to improve practice.
Current Approaches
Special education programs for students with EBD began to develop rapidly in the
late 1950s and early 1960s. During this time, researchers focused their efforts on the
effectiveness of behavioral approaches that employed the principles of conditioning and
learning to develop prosocial behavior in students with EBD (Kauffman, 1995). In the
1980s, behavioral models evolved into more sophisticated integrative approaches that
address the realities of children’s affective and cognitive experiences by exploring the
effects of consequences on shaping behavior, thoughts, and affect (Kauffman). As a
result, cognitive-behavioral approaches have recently gained prominence, especially in
the study of aggression and antisocial behavior (Furlong & Smith, 1994; Kassinove,
1995).

5
Cognitive-behavioral researchers look to distorted cognition (Beck, 1976; Dodge
& Coie, 1987; Ellis, 1995,) and/or social skill deficits (Davis & Boster, 1992;
Deffenbacher & Swaim, 1999; Lochman, 1992; Spivack, Platt, & Shure, 1976) as sources
of maladaptive behavior. The practical aim of this approach, therefore, is to replace
distorted/deficit cognitive schemas with more effective ones through modeling, verbal
rehearsal, practice, and feedback (e.g., Smith, Siegel, O’Connor, & Thomas, 1994). In
addition, practitioners are encouraged to employ techniques such as self-instructional
training, self-talk, and role play to facilitate the remediation and to enhance
generalization to other settings (e.g., Lockman, Lampron, Gemmer, & Harris, 1987).
Consistent with behavioral approaches, however, the learner is portrayed as a passive
participant and the environment is “a major source of influence on behavior” as a result
of biological “processes that are collectively called conditioning or learning” (Johnston &
Pennypacker, 1993, p. 4).
During this same time period, proponents of behavior analytic approaches also
began to shift their focus toward examining thoughts as private events shaped by the
principles of conditioning and learning. These researchers took aim at the communicative
intent of maladaptive behavior as well as its environmental triggers to explain the
functional relationship between behavior and its consequences. As a result, ftinctional
assessment gained such prominence in the treatment of EBD that the 1997 amendments
to IDEA require functional behavioral assessments for any student with a disability who
exhibits maladaptive behavior (e.g., Armstrong & Kauffman, 1999). The outcome of the
functional assessment is a behavior intervention plan that represents the school’s good

6
faith effort to maintain students with disabilities in the general education classroom (Yell,
1998).
Over the last fifty years, researchers have found both behavioral and cognitive
behavioral approaches to be effective in shaping prosocial behavior in students with
behavioral problems (cf. Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Robinson, Smith, Miller, & Brownell,
1999). Nevertheless, researchers have also defined several important limitations to these
approaches (Webster-Stratton, 1997). When practically applied, researchers have found
that (a) many teachers are opposed to some behavior modification procedures (e.g.,
Kazdin & Cole, 1981), (b) behavior shaped using the principles of behavior modification
may not generalize to natural settings (e.g., Cullinan, Epstein, & Lloyd, 1991; Kauffman,
1995), (c) functional assessment may be too difficult to implement in classrooms (e.g.,
Katsiyannis & Maag, 1998), (d) some cognitive-behavioral approaches may be too
sophisticated for young children (Webster-Stratton), and (e) behavioral and cognitive-
behavioral approaches may not alter the environment that is nurturing the development of
EBD (e.g., Webster-Stratton).
Additionally, researchers have found that classrooms are not characterized by the
kind of positive strategies known to be effective in shaping prosocial behavior; therefore,
they speculate that the classroom environment itself may contribute to the development
of EBD (e.g., Kauffman et al., 1995). For example, teachers frequently become highly
critical of misbehaving students, thereby engaging in coercive power struggles. As a
result, teachers fall victim to negative reinforcement traps and may unintentionally
perpetuate undesirable behavior (e.g., Jack et al., 1996; Webster-Stratton, 1997). For this
reason, researchers suggest that some approaches based on behavioral principles may be

7
inappropriate for classroom settings (e.g., Jack et al.; Repucci & Saunders, 1974; Shores,
Gunter. Denny, & Jack, 1993; Shores, Gunter, & Jack, 1993; Winett & Winkler, 1972).
The Student With EBP
The emotional and behavioral concomitants of EBD are explicit in the
nomenclature, but, according to the federal definition, EBD is a multifaceted, complex
disorder that involves maladaptive behavior, disordered affect, or disorder cognition
(Kauffman, 1995). According to federal law, students with EBD are characterized by one
or more of the following: (a) an inability to learn which cannot be explained by
intellectual, sensory, or health factors, (b) an inability to maintain satisfactory
interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, (c) inappropriate types of behavior or
feelings under normal circumstances, (d) a general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or
depression, and (e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with
person or school problems (Individuals with Disabilities Act [IDEA], 1997). Therefore,
to understand the student with EBD, one must examine how these behavioral, emotional,
and cognitive components are manifested in the disorder.
Behavior. According to Kauffman (1995), EBD is partially represented in
maladaptive behavior that is discordant with social-interpersonal environments and
precludes opportunities for gratifying social interactions and experiences of self-
fulfillment. Externalizing disorders such as attention and activity disorders and conduct
disorders make up the most prevalent types of EBD and characteristically include
maladaptive behavior in the form of aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior
(Kauffman; Kauffman, Culllinan, & Epstein, 1987). Aggressive, disruptive, antisocial
students arouse negative feelings and induce negative behavior in others, resulting in

8
social rejection and alienation from adults and peers alike. In fact, the behavior of these
students can be so unreasonable that others sometimes perceive their motives as
purposefully seeking punishment or rebuke (Kauffman). As members of the classroom
community, teachers regard children with externalizing disorders to be the most difficult
to teach, the least likable (Kauffman & Wong, 1991), and a threat to the development of a
secure, safe classroom environment (Langdon, 1997).
Emotion. Federal law portrays the disordered affective component of EBD as
“physical symptoms or fears” or “a general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or
depression,” suggesting that depression and/or anxiety are the primary affective
characteristics of EBD. Although depression and anxiety are frequent emotional
concomitants of internalizing disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety
disorders, clinical depression, and schizophrenia (Kauffman, 1995), researchers
commonly recognize anger as the underlying affective component of externalizing
disorders (Walker et al., 1995). Anger in children, however, has received little attention
from the research community (e.g., Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992).
Anger and cognition are mysteriously woven together in the existing research
literature. Novaco (1975) conceived a reciprocal relationship between cognition and
anger. Current models, however, portray anger as a mediating influence between
distorted/deficit cognition and aggressive behavior. For example, cognitive-behavioral
researchers treat aggression by reducing attributional biases of hostile intent (e.g., Dodge
& Coie, 1987; Fortman & Feldman, 1994; Lochman et al., 1987) and cognitive
distortions (e.g., Ellis, 1995), while behavior analytic researchers seek to identify and
change the objective elicitor and consequences of anger (Kassinove & Sukhodolsky,

9
1995). If, however, the relationship between anger and cognition is reciprocal, then
current approaches appear to be limited because they do not allow for anger as a justified
response to an unjust, hurtful situation. From this perspective, anger might precede
disordered cognitive functioning and aggressive, disruptive, and/or antisocial behavior
(Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). In fact, Kassinove and Sukhodolsky state that to
understand anger, researchers “would be wise to learn how people form their
conceptualizations of how their friends, family members, colleagues, and others should
act” (p. 24).
Cognition, Although maladaptive behavior and disordered affect are described as
defining manifestations of EBD, they are not the only determining characteristic.
According to the federal definition disordered cognition is also an influential determinant
of EBD (Kauffman, 1995). For example, the definition describes EBD “as an inability to
learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors,” “the inability to
build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships,” “inappropriate behavior or
feelings under normal circumstances,” “a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or
depression,” and “a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears.” Thus, by
definition, EBD appears to be deeply rooted in the cognitive domain.
Present conceptions of best practice in the education of students with EBD
suggest that remediation of distorted/deficit thinking processes is necessary to mitigate
the cognitive dysfunction inherent in EBD (Kauffman, 1995). In other words, the child’s
thinking must be remediated because the child’s reality is distorted. In contrast, the
cognitive developmental approach targets the child’s reasoning as a lived reality,
constructed as the child perfects tentative solutions for a problematic situations (Dewey,

10
1916/1944). Therefore, the child’s reasoning reflects a complex interaction between
judgement and action (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and provides
knowledge about the bearings, uses, and causes of the situation as the child knows it to be
(Dewey). Overt behavior influences judgement; judgement influences behavior (Colby &
Kohlberg). Both the child and the environment become actors in the meaning making
process.
The Cognitive-Developmental Approach
Current issues and trends in the education of students with EBD enjoin a
heightened level of attention to the empirical and conceptual foundations of special
education (Kauffman, 1995). By employing a cognitive-developmental approach,
researchers are provided an opportunity to conceptualize and examine EBD from a
previously unexplored perspective. From this perspective, researchers can study the
thinking of students with EBD as an expression of a subjective reality, couched in the
developmental process (Coby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). As a result,
researchers might extend current knowledge about EBD and its treatment and, at the
same time, broaden the conceptual foundations of special education.
Piaget (1932/1965), the father of cognitive-developmental psychology (Siegler,
1998), advised that if we want to form moral men and women, we must study the laws
that govern their formation. With this advice, he enjoined researchers to begin the inquiry
by examining the development of morality in children. Piaget argued that a child’s
actions do not reveal the child’s motivations and urged researchers to move beyond
merely observing how precise the child is in respecting rules and examine “how [the
child] judges of [sic] good and evil in the performance of his own action” (p. 117). How

II
children think and feel about their behavior is as much a part of social behavior as is the
most overt cooperative or hostile act (Dewey, 1916/1944). The relationship between
reasoning and behavior, however, continues to be obscure (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).
Moreover, Piaget asserted that “Difficult children, whom parents and teachers send or
ought to send up for psycho-therapeutic treatment, supply the richest material for
analysis” (p. 112).Yet only two studies (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997) have been
published that examined the reasoning processes of elementary children with EBD.
According to Higgins (1995), the guiding assumption of cognitive-developmental
theory is that children create knowledge as a result of a bi-directional relationship
between thinking and experience. From this perspective, the child is portrayed as an
active participant in the creation of a subjective reality whose dimensions are described in
the child’s verbal reasoning. Therefore, moral development researchers study children’s
verbal reasoning because it can provide insight into past experiences and thinking, as well
as present perceptions of how actions and consequences are connected.
The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to
examine the relationships among cognition, emotion, and behavior. I included elementary
aged students because the number of students with EBD seems to increase rapidly during
the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5th grade present the best opportunity for
intervention (e.g.. Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary years provide a
context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965).
Because the population of students with EBD is characterized by a disproportionate
number of African American males and students with low SES (Kauffman, 1995), I
included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also included reading

12
comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional variable, and the
student’s grade in school to gauge developmental change.
Purpose and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the present study is examine moral reasoning in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade
students with EBD using a cognitive developmental approach. The results should provide
valuable information about the developmental course of moral reasoning in elementary
children with EBD and provide depth to current understanding about the relationships
among moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and disordered behavior.
Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following research hypothesis:
When accounting for the variables gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading comprehension,
SES, atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship
between reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension and a significant
negative relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension.
Rationale
The purpose of the present study is to provide depth to current understanding
about the relationships among moral reasoning, trait anger, and disordered behavior by
examining how moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD differs from that of
typical peers. Because EBD is a complex disability, it presents a unique opportunity to
increase knowledge about the relationships among behavior, emotion, and cognition.
Although only a few researchers have examined moral reasoning in elementary children
with EBD (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997, Hardman & Smith, 2001), many have
examined moral reasoning in typical populations of elementary children charting its

13
developmental course (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and evaluating
the influence of culture (e.g., Gilligan, 1982; Shweder, Nahapatra, & Miller, 1987).
Cognition
Piaget (1932/1965) described changes in children’s moral reasoning as a
cognitively structured, maturational progression. Subsequent research, however, has
demonstrated that poverty (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a), reading comprehension (Narvaez,
Gleason, Mitchell, & Bently, 1999), gender (Gilligan, 1982) and ethnicity (Edwards,
1987) may also influence the structural characteristics and maturational progression of
moral reasoning. Interestingly, students with EBD are overly represented by low
socioeconomic, African American males and as a population exhibit a slower rate of
achievement (Kauffman, 1995). Therefore, a review of researchers’ findings regarding
the relationships among reading comprehension, poverty, SES, and ethnicity and moral
reasoning is warranted.
Reading comprehension. Studies of moral reasoning in the general population and
cross-culturally suggest that low achieving individuals will also exhibit depressed or
stagnant maturation in moral reasoning. For example, in a longitudinal study of moral
judgement in U.S. males, Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) found that
although age accounted for 60% of the variance in scores, there was also a moderate
relationship between the maturation of moral judgement and achievement. Further
examination of the results revealed, however, that differences in IQ and SES seemed to
control the strength of this relationship; therefore, the relationship between achievement
and moral reasoning appeared to be mediated through IQ and SES differences.

14
Recently, Narvaez and her coauthors (1999) studied moral reasoning in 3rd, 5th,
and university students by assessing their ability to understand themes of cooperation in
moral stories. Narvaez and her colleagues found that reading achievement and reading
comprehension were significantly related to participants’ understanding of moral themes
of cooperation; however, when reading comprehension was controlled, the relationship
between moral theme comprehension and maturation remained significant. Therefore,
these authors concluded that while moral theme comprehension is related to reading
comprehension, participants’ understanding of moral themes of cooperation seems to
require something beyond reading comprehension.
Socioeconomic status (SES). Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987)
found that individuals who live in poverty reason at lower stages of maturation. These
authors interpreted the finding of social class differences in rate and terminus of
development in moral reasoning as a reflection of differential participation in and
identification with society and its institutions. Differential participation in social
institutions creates differential role-taking opportunities for middle-class and working
class children. Therefore, individuals from the middle class experience the role of
cooperative participants in society and, as a result, develop a social system perspective
that characterizes higher stages of reasoning (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). In a pilot study
of moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD, Hardman and Smith (2001) found a
significant difference in the ability of students with low SES to detect moral themes in
stories when compared with peers from middle and upper income families. Because SES
and EBD were confounded, these authors reached no conclusions regarding the influence
of EBD on moral reasoning. These findings seem to support the hypothesis that poverty

15
presents circumstances in which democratic education may be inconsistently applied and
opportunities for developing a moral disposition may be differentially perceived (Colby
& Kohlberg; Dewey, 1916/1944).
Gender/culture. Social constructivists propose the development of moral
reasoning as an entirely social phenomenon, arguing that the norms and values that guide
a child’s moral reasoning are culturally dependent (Kurtines & Gewirtz, 1995).
Furthermore, social constructivists charge that stage theories preference the
individualistically focused values and norms of Western cultures and relegate reasoning
that preferences communitarian ideals to lower developmental stages (e.g., Brown,
Tappan, & Gilligan, 1995; Gilligan 1982; Shweder et al., 1987). For example, Gilligan, a
feminist critic of stage theories, found that moral reasoning in females is more likely to
be grounded in communitarian ideals that are nurtured by women's unique cultural role
as care givers. She argued that the Piagetian/Kohlbergian framework misinterprets the
stage development represented in a communitarian orientation as deficient when, in fact,
this orientation is only different.
Behavior
The nature of the relationship between reasoning and behavior in children under
the age of 12 is, for the most part, unexplored territory. Piaget (1932/1965) hypothesized
that children’s moral reasoning represents a gradual coming into consciousness of past
actions; therefore, moral reasoning must lag behind moral action. Moreover, Colby and
Kohlberg (1987a) conjectured that as individuals attain more mature stages of reasoning,
they are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of moral behavior. These researchers
explained that the principles that guide higher stages of moral reasoning (e.g., it is wrong

16
to harm others) are unalterable and universal; therefore, moral relativism is not possible
and moral action ensues. Principled reasoning obligates moral behavior. On the other
hand, moral realism premised on conventional morals (i.e., cultural rules about dress,
sexual behavior, social behavior) encourages moral relativism because conventional
morals may be altered to suit the egoistic demands of a situation. Thus, conventional
morality is not always obligatory (Colby & Kohlberg).
According to Gibbs (1995), egocentric biases and moral realism are the primary
indicators of lower stages of moral reasoning and appear to be natural to early childhood.
The persistence of egocentrism into adolescence, however, may render the individual at
high-risk for serious antisocial behavior. Because egocentrism precludes meaningful
perspective taking, egocentric biases preempt any consideration for the expectations and
feelings of others. Therefore, egocentric, antisocial adolescents can develop moral
realism (rule oriented behavior) only with respect to their own needs, wants, and desires.
When compliance does not meet selfish needs, rule breaking is justified. Their thinking is
similar to that of a five-year-old, but because their size, needs, and level of freedom are
vastly different, egocentric biases in their moral reasoning present a clear danger.
Hardman and Smith (2001) examined moral reasoning in 21 students with EBD
and found that these students experienced greater difficulty comprehending moral themes
in stories than did their typical peers. This finding was supported and elaborated as a
result of an analysis of moral dilemma interviews with three students selected from the
participant sample of students with EBD. As a result, these authors found informants’
moral judgements to be replete with expressions of moral realism and egocentric biases.
The authors caution, however, that EBD and SES were confounded; therefore, the effects

17
for EBD could not be evaluated independent of the effects for SES. This finding bears
preliminary theoretical and empirical significance about the relationship between moral
reasoning and behavior and warrants further inquiry (Hardman & Smith).
Emotion
Anger. In most cases, anger is assumed to underlie the observable antisocial,
aggressive, and disruptive behaviors that limit social interactions of elementary students
with EBD (Kauffman, 1995; Walker et al., 1995). Aggressive, disruptive, antisocial
behavior arouses negative feelings and induces negative behavior in others, resulting in
social rejection and alienation from adults and peers (Kauffman). Anger, therefore,
appears to provide a motivational limit to the moral socialization of many students with
EBD (Gibbs, 1995).
Definition. Anger is a complex emotion (e.g., Deffenbacher & Swaim, 1999) that,
until recently, has received little attention from the research community (e.g., Boekaerts,
1993; Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992; Murphy & Eisenberg, 1996). Anger is defined as an
emotional response to perceived threats, insults, frustration, injustice (Lehnert,
Overholser, & Spirito, 1994), intentional harm (Levine, 1995) or conflicts (Murphy &
Eisenberg) and may represent a temporary emotional state or a personality trait (Jacobs,
Phelps, & Rohrs, 1989). Students with externalizing disorders may experience such
intense chronic anger that their angry feelings reach beyond state anger and may signify
an anger disorder (Kassinove, 1995) or personality trait (e.g., Deffenbacher, Lynch,
Oetting, & Kemper, 1996; Walker et al. 1995), thereby adversely affecting the quality of
a child’s social interactions.

18
Anger, however, is not always a sign of disordered affect. On the contrary, anger
may represent a normal emotional response in many instances. For example, anger is a
common denominator in situations in which children believe their personal values,
including those of fairness and justice, are challenged (Boekaerts, 1993) and represents a
culturally normative response to discrimination and injustice for minority youth
(Stevenson, Reed, Bodison, & Bishop, 1997). Conversely, years of discrimination and
injustice may also result in such serious assaults on personal values that perceptions of
injustice may become a source of intense, destructive trait anger (Chan, 1994).
Anger and other emotions. Recent research aimed at clarifying the relationship
between anger and other emotions has defined anger as a mysterious, complex emotion
that may play an instrumental role in the developmental course of other emotions, such as
depression (Berkowitz, 1990; Clay, Anderson, & Dixon, 1993; Enright & Fitzgibbons,
2000; Heavey, Adelman, Nelson, & Smith, 1989; Levine, 1995) and anxiety
(Deffenbacher et al., 1996; Flains & Szyjakowski, 1990). For example, Enright and
Fitzgibbons highlight cases in which anger emerges as an intense response to extreme
circumstances of injustice such as sexual, physical, or mental abuse and represents a
precursor to the onset of intense depression, poor health, and antisocial behavior.
Moreover, these authors argue that, in these cases, anger must be resolved before the
destructive emotional, physical, and behavioral expressions of anger can be effectively
addressed.
Anger and cognition. Cognitive models of emotion suggest that people’s emotions
depend less upon actual events and more upon people’s interpretations of those events
(e.g., Dodge & Coie, 1987; Levine, 1995); therefore, children’s use of morally relevant

19
information may be an important moderating influence on children’s tendencies to
become angry. Simply stated, the expression of anger signals moral judgement (Olthof,
Ferguson, & Luiten, 1989). For example, researchers have found that (a) violent children
show lower empathy and insight, leading to concerns over issues of fair play and evoking
aggressive responses (Davis & Boster, 1992), (b) ego development seems to be inversely
correlated with sadness and anger in emotionally disturbed adolescents (Flauser & Safyer,
1994), (c) students diagnosed as having significant learning disabilities exhibit higher
levels of anger and misbehavior when compared to those without learning problems
(Heavey et al., 1989), and (d) children who exhibit externalizing disorders become
aggressive because they misinterpret the intentions of others and are unable to manage or
cope with the situation in appropriate ways (e.g., Deffenbacher et al. 1996; Lockman,
1992).
Anger and socialization. Researchers have found evidence to indicate that there is
a significant relationship between anger and social competency. For example, Murphy
and Eisenberg (1996) examined the angry conflicts of 108 elementary aged children and
found that social competency predicts anger intensity even when controlling for sex, age,
and causes of angry conflicts. Downey, Lebolt, Rincon, and Freitas (1998) studied
rejection sensitivity and its relationship to anger and found that poor and minority
children who angrily expected social rejection behave more aggressively, experience
increased interpersonal difficulties, and decline in academic learning over time.
Moreover, Fabes and Eisenberg (1992) found that young children who were relatively
low in social status and competence seemed to “invite” aggressive rejecting conflict and

20
that popular, socially competent children were less likely to be involved in angry
conflicts.
Definition of Terms
Accommodation
Accommodation refers to the way in which individuals adapt their ways of
thinking when presented with new experiences. For example, an extreme case of
accommodation is imitation (Siegler, 1998).
Assimilation
Assimilation is the way individuals transform or interpret information to fit within
their existing way of thinking. If individuals are not able to understand new information
in concert with existing ways of thinking, then they cannot form a meaningful
representation of the new material. An extreme case of assimilation is fantasy play.
Accommodation cannot be present without assimilation and vice versa (Siegler, 1998).
Autonomous Morality
Autonomous morality is characterized by an independent, self-legislative stance
when making moral judgements (Piaget, 1932/1965).
Cognitive-Developmental Approach
The cognitive-developmental approach posits that an individual’s thinking
undergoes a series of transformations as a result of an interaction between heredity and
experience (Kertines & Gerwitz, 1995). These transformations occur in universal,
invariant stages (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a) and are facilitated by the basic
developmental processes of assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration (Siegler,
1998).

21
Constructivism
Constructivism refers to individuals’ ability to construct meaning for themselves
by thinking about and acting on the world. When individuals invent or construct new
responses to each novel situation, the form of the meaning constructed is constrained by
the individual’s current developmental level. Therefore, the present mode of construction
is an outgrowth of the prior mode. Individuals cannot simply internalize higher stage
reasoning, but instead are only able to move forward to the logical next step of cognitive
reorganization (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).
Distributive Justice
Distributive justice means to deal an equal, proper share to each group or
individual (Piaget, 1932/1965).
Deontic Reasoning
Deontic reasoning refers to what is right or duty bound and does not encompass
other types of ethical judgements such as judgements of moral worth or virtue of
particular persons or actions, judgements about the goodness of lifestyle, or judgements
about ideals of the good life (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).
Egocentrism
Egocentrism refers to a way of thinking about the external world in terms of one’s
own perspective. This psychological limitation can be found in the thinking of many
children between the ages of 2 and 7 (Siegler, 1998).

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBP)
22
Emotionally disturbed is defined as follows:
(i) The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following
characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which
adversely affects educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual,
sensory, or health factors; (B) An inability to build or maintain
satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; (C)
Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal
circumstances; (D) A general, pervasive mood of unhappiness or
depression; or (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or
fears associated with personal or school problems.
(ii) The term includes children who are schizophrenic. The term does not
include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that
they are seriously emotionally disturbed. (34 C.F.R. § 300.7 [b] [9] [1997])
Equilibration
Equilibration refers to the overall interaction between existing ways of thinking
and new experience. It is the essential element of developmental change. Equilibration
involves a three-phase process. First, equilibration is represented in a state of satisfaction
with present modes of thought. Then, the individual becomes aware of shortcomings in
their existing thinking and is dissatisfied. Finally, through assimilation and
accommodation, the individual adopts a more sophisticated mode of thought that
eliminates the shortcomings of the old one; that is, the individual reaches equilibrium
(Siegler, 1998).
Expiatory Punishment
Punishment employed to extract payment from wrong doers for their bad behavior
(Piaget, 1932/1965).
Heteronomous Morality
Moral behavior that is subject to external forces or controls (Piaget, 1932/1965).

23
Moral Dilemma
A moral dilemma is a story that poses a conflict in values. Perceptions and ideas
generated in response to moral dilemmas represent the individual’s constitutive
knowledge about the bearings, uses, and causes ofthe situation (Dewey, 1916/1944).
For example, the Heinz dilemma is a story about a man who must steal drug to save his
wife’s life. Hence, this story poses a conflict between the value of preserving life and the
value of upholding the law (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).
Moral Judgement
A moral judgement is an imperative derived from some rule or principle of action
that the speaker believes is binding on his own actions. Moral judgements include (a)
judgements of value, not fact; (b) social judgements involving people; (c) prescriptive or
normative judgements, and (d) value judgements of rights and responsibilities, rather than
value judgements of liking and preference (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).
Moral Reasoning
To perfect a tentative solution for a problematic situation, individuals will
carefully scrutinize existing conditions and the implications of various hypotheses. This
operation is called reasoning (Dewey, 1916/1944). Moral reasoning refers to the
hypothesis constructed when reasoning in the moral domain.
Phenomenalism
Phenomenalism refers to the development of moral judgement as an expression of
an individual’s subjective reality that is developed through a complex interaction between
judgement and action. Causality is bidirectional. Overt behavior influences moral beliefs;
moral beliefs influence behavior (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a).

24
Retributive Justice
Retributive justice requires “pay back” in equal measure. An eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth is an example of retributive justice (Piaget, 1932/1965).
Structuralism
Structuralism refers to the general organizing principles or patterns of thought
rather than specific moral beliefs or opinions. According to Colby and Kohlberg (1987a)
concepts are not learned or used independently of one another, but are bound together by
common structural features. A pattern of connections, a structure or set of relations and
transformations, develop within the subject’s meaning. Therefore, structuralism is the
hermeneutic that guides the analysis of the organization of thought inherent in the
individual’s responses to moral dilemmas.
Delimitations of the Study
The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to
examine the relationships moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and
behavior. I included elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD
seems to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5th grade
present the best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late
elementary years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral
judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965). Sampling procedures took place in two moderately sized
school districts (approximately 27,000 - 30,000 students) in rural, Central Florida. I
purposively selected a sample of 12 students from the participant sample to participate in
moral dilemma interviews.

Limitations of the Study
25
The purpose of this study was to examine moral reasoning in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade
students with EBD. I implemented a causal correlational research design, using sampling
procedures and statistical methods that yield generalizable results to the population of 3rd,
4th, and 5th grade students with EBD and their typical peers in the two rural school
districts from which they were selected. The findings cannot be generalized to students at
other grade levels or to students with disabilities other than EBD. The results of case
study research are not generalizable to other students and informants’ prescriptions about
what should be done may not predict the choices they make in natural settings.
Additional specific methodological constraints are described in Chapter III.
Summary
Efforts at prevention and intervention have failed to stem the increasing numbers
of students who develop EBD during the elementary school years. Since the inception of
special education classes for students with EBD in the 1950s, researchers and
practitioners have focused intervention and prevention efforts on the effectiveness of
behavioral and cognitive-behavioral approaches to meet the needs of students with EBD.
Proponents of these approaches assume that the principles of learning and conditioning
are the primary influences that shape behavior, cognition, and emotion and attribute
importance to environmental forces as the active influence on the learning process (e.g.,
Kauffman, 1995). In contrast, the cognitive developmental approach presents the child as
an active participant in creating a subjective, lived reality (e.g., Dewey, 1916/1944;
Piaget, 1932/1965) and allows for the study of EBD as a manifestation of a complex
interaction among cognition, emotion, and behavior.

26
The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to
examine the relationships among moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and
behavior by targeting the development of moral reasoning in elementary students with
EBD. I included elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD
seems to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5th grade
present the best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late
elementary years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral
judgement (Piaget, 1932/1965). Because the population of students with EBD is
characterized by a disproportionate number of African American males and students with
low SES (Kauffman, 1995), I included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also
included reading comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional
variable, and the student’s grade in school to gauge developmental change.
Because of the complexity of the disability, EBD present a unique opportunity to
increase current knowledge about the complex relationships among behavior, emotion,
and cognition and the influence of each of these elements on the development of
morality. Cognitive-developmental researchers have examined moral reasoning in typical
populations of elementary children charting its developmental course (e.g., Colby &
Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965) and evaluating the influence of culture (e.g.,
Gilligan, 1982; Shweder et al., 1987). On the other hand, the relationship between moral
reasoning and emotional/behavioral influences has received little attention. I found only
two studies (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997) that examined moral reasoning in
students with EBD.

Overview of Remaining Chapters
In the remaining chapters, I further elaborate the theoretical framework, review
27
the relevant literature, describe the methods, report the results, and discuss the
implications of the findings. In Chapter II, I describe the theoretical framework of the
cognitive developmental approach and review the literature relevant to the development
of moral reasoning in typical and atypical populations. Chapter III provides a detailed
description of a pilot study and describes the research design, the setting and participants,
data gathering instruments, and the research procedures employed to implement the
study. In Chapter IV, I relate the results and in Chapter V, I synthesize the findings and
discuss the implications for researchers and practitioners.

CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Chapter II provides a synthesis of the literature on children’s moral development
from a cognitive developmental perspective. I begin by relating the theoretical
assumptions that undergird the cognitive-developmental approach, followed by a review
of Piaget’s seminal study (1932/1965). I then review Colby and Kohlberg’s (1987)
reiteration of the theoretical assumptions and describe how these authors refined and
expanded Piaget’s structural, or stage theory of moral development. Finally, I review
subsequent research, discussing both support for and challenges to the cognitive-
developmental conceptualization of the development of morality in elementary aged
children, giving detailed attention to the studies that investigated the seven independent
variables (i.e., gender, grade, ethnicity, atypical/typical behavior, trait anger, SES, and
reading comprehension) targeted in the present study.
Theory Development
The cognitive developmental perspective of children’s moral development
assumes that children create knowledge as a result of a bi-directional relationship
between thinking and experience. When children see that a certain way of acting and its
consequence are connected, but they do not know how they are connected, reasoning
becomes an intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between the things
children do and the ensuing consequences (Dewey, 1916/1944). By examining children’s
reasoning processes, the researcher seeks insight into past experiences and thinking, as
28

29
well as their present perceptions of how actions and consequences are connected
(Higgins, 1995; Siegler, 1998).
Piaget’s Theory
Assuming a cognitive-developmental perspective about the creation of
knowledge, Piaget (1952) set forth three psychological processes that facilitate children’s
progression toward higher levels of knowing: assimilation, accommodation, and
equilibration. According to Piaget, assimilation is the psychological process that defines
the way children transform incoming information so that it fits their existing way of
thinking. When new information is assimilated, children are able to form a meaningful
representation of the new material, but if new information can not be assimilated, the
meaning making process is thwarted. Siegler (1998) presents pretend play as an extreme
case of assimilation. When children pretend, they gloss over the physical characteristics
of objects and treat them as if they are what the children are momentarily interpreting
them to be. In contrast, Piaget presented accommodation as the psychological process
that defines the way children adapt their ways of thinking to new experiences. For
example, Siegler uses imitation as an extreme case of accommodation. When children
imitate, they minimize their interpretations and simply mimic what they see. According
to Piaget, assimilation and accommodation mutually influence each other, and
assimilation is never present without accommodation and vice versa.
Equilibration refers to the overall interaction between existing ways of thinking
and experience and is accomplished in three phases. First, children are satisfied with their
present mode of thought and are in a state of equilibrium. When they are confronted with
shortcomings in their present thinking, dissatisfaction or a state of disequilibrium,

30
develops. To restore a state equilibrium, children adopt a more sophisticated mode of
thought that eliminates the shortcomings of the old way of thinking (Piaget, 1952). In this
manner, equilibration provides the impetus for maturation.
Piaget’s Study
In 1932, Piaget conducted a study of children’s moral reasoning, employing a
methodology and establishing a theory firmly grounded in the epistemological
assumptions of cognitive-developmental psychology. Assuming that children construct
their moral realities as a result of their mental and physical actions, Piaget (1932/1965)
examined how nature, or the maturational process, and experience influence children’s
understanding of morality.
“All morality consists in a system of rules, and the essence of all morality is to be
sought for in the respect which the individual acquires for these rules” (Piaget,
1932/1965, p. 13). Because adults teach children the rules for moral behavior, moral rules
are developed, not by children, but by a succession of generations (Dewey, 1916/1944)
and are transmitted to children before they are conscious of obligation (Piaget). To make
this developing consciousness visible, Piaget studied children’s understanding of the
rules of the game of marbles because the rules of children’s games are consciously
developed and elaborated by children. Specifically, Piaget targeted two phenomena to
observe: (a) practice; that is, the way in which children of different ages apply rules and
(b) consciousness; that is, whether they are obligatory and sacred or a matter of choice.
The rules of children’s games. Piaget’s (1932/1965) subjects were infants to 12-
year olds living in Geneva and Neuchatel, Switzerland. He began by observing and
noting children’s variations in rule application and, then, he questioned them about

31
fairness of these variations. As a result, Piaget described four developmental stages that
define children’s practice of rules: sensorimotor, egocentric, cooperation, and
codification of rules. Moreover, through the practice of rules, children develop a
consciousness of rules, or an understanding of the source of the obligatory, in three
stages: nonmoral; heteronomous morality; and autonomous morality.
The sensorimotor stage lasts from birth to approximately two years. During this
stage, children merely engage in sensorimotor explorations of a game’s accoutrements
without regard for rules. Thus, stage 1 children are not conscience of moral obligations
and are described as nonmoral.
The sensorimotor stage is followed by the egocentric stage. At about age 2,
children enter a developmental period during which their thinking is limited by
egocentrism. Egocentric children think about the external world always in terms of their
own perspective and their own position within it (Siegler, 1998). Stage 2 children can
recite rules and state a respect for rules but, in practice, apply rules to suit their egocentric
wants and desires. Because of egocentrism, stage 2 children perceive the obligatory as
coerced by authority figures and entirely externally imposed. Moral realism develops,
leading to the practice of a heteronomous morality, a morality dependent on external
sources of obligation.
At about age 6, children develop a perspective of cooperation and enter the
cooperation stage. Egocentrism begins to lose its control on children’s thinking allowing
insight into others’ perspectives. This perspective taking ability predisposes them to an
attitude of cooperation even though moral realism persists. In fact, Piaget (1932/1965)
noted that stage 3 children accept rules with “mystic respect... [RJules are eternal, due

32
to the authority of parents, of the Gentlemen of the Commune, and even of an almighty
God” (p. 61). Thus, stage 3 children continue to view obedience to authority as a primary
moral obligation; rules are sacred, untouchable and last forever.
At about age 10, experiences of cooperation with other children and authority
usher in an understanding of the rational rule, one that is self-imposed through mutual
consent. This move toward rationalism begins at about age 10 and signals the child’s
transition into stage 4, the codification of rules stage. By age 12, the transition into stage
4 is complete and children understand that rules are self-imposed obligations that are
created through mutual agreement. Their moral judgements exemplify a perspective of
equal justice tempered by equity and the child becomes a moral being. Table 2.1
summarizes the salient points of Piaget’s theory.
Moral dilemmas about clumsiness, lying, and stealing. Piaget’s (1932/1965)
objective was to gain insight into morality as a developmental process and to determine
how this process relates to the practice and perception of the rules for moral behavior.
Identifying the stages that guide the application and consciousness of the rules of
children’s games was only the first step toward achieving this objective. Piaget’s second
step was to employ the technique of theoretical sampling to examine how these
developmental stages affected children’s reasoning about moral problems.
To elicit children’s moral reasoning, Piaget (1932/1965) presented 5 to 13-year
old children with moral dilemmas about clumsiness, lying, and stealing and discovered
that the same concepts that guide the practice and consciousness of the rules of children’s
games also guide children’s understanding of the rules for moral behavior. Piaget found
that themes of moral constraint coerced by an external authority distinguished young

33
Table 2.1
Piaget’s Theory
Age
Practice of Rules
Consciousness of Rules
birth-2 years
Stage 1
Sensorimotor
Stage 1
Non-Moral
3-6 years
Stage 2
Egocentric
Limited by egocentrism
Stage 2
Heteronomous Moralitv
The moral is externally
coerced. Moral realism
prevails.
7-9 years
10-12 years
Stage 3
Cooneration
Develop perspective
taking
The moral is determined
by mutual consent.
12- adult
Stage 4
Codification of Rules
Stage 3
Autonomous Moralitv
The moral is determined
from within
children’s reasoning processes. As children matured, however, themes of cooperation and
social interaction began to emerge as the precursors of a developing autonomous morality
characterized by an independent, self-legislative stance.
Piaget (1932/1965) described children who practice heteronomous morality as
moral realists who perceive moral behavior as entirely externally imposed. From a moral
realist’s perspective, rules do not require understanding, only obedience and conformity
regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, duty becomes self-subsistent and independent

34
of reason. Any act that shows obedience to a rule or to authority, regardless of the
command, is good. Any act that does not conform to the rules is bad. The good is
obedience and the letter rather than the spirit of the law represents an objective
conception of moral responsibility. As children mature, however, the development of
relationships among children and a perception of increasing equality with adults lead to
an attitude of mutual respect and children begin to understand that rules are imposed
through social contract.
Justice. To examine the development of justice reasoning, Piaget (1932/1965)
presented informants with dilemmas that stimulated their thinking about expiatory,
distributive, and retributive justice; collective and communicable responsibility;
immanent justice; equality and equity; and authority. He found that up until the age of 7
or 8, justice is subordinate to adult authority, but from ages 8 to 11, children
progressively develop the notion of equlitarianism, or mutual respect. By the age 11 or
12, children adopt a perspective of purely equal itarian justice tempered by considerations
of equity. As a result, Piaget concluded that mutual respect is prerequisite to notions of
distributive justice and reciprocity and identified the ethics of mutual respect as the
moral.
The child sets forgiveness above revenge, not out of weakness, but
because ‘there is no end’ to revenge (a boy of 10)... [Sjo in ethics,
reciprocity implies a purification of the deeper trend of conduct, guiding it
by gradual stages to universality itself, (p. 323-24)
Thus, morality develops out of reciprocity, when mutual respect is strong enough to make
the individual feel from within the desire to treat others as he wishes to be treated
(Piaget).

35
Kohlberg’s Contribution
In 1987, Colby and Kohlberg replicated and refined Piaget’s theory and authored
what might be one of the finest examples of a stage theory (Higgins, 1995). Their work
represented the end product of Kohlberg’s lifelong search for the constituents of Piaget’s
universal morality and the mechanisms that facilitate its development (Reed, 1997).
Moreover, Kohlberg attempted to transform theory into practice, by implementing a Just
Community approach to moral education in three high schools in Boston (Power,
Higgins, Kohlberg, 1989).
Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) reframed the epistemological assumptions of the
cognitive-developmental approach by defining the role of phenomenalism, structuralism,
and constructivism in the development of morality. The first, phenomenalism, refers to
moral judgement as a subjective reality, dependent on individual perceptions and
influenced by both experience and maturation. Thus, an individual’s moral reality
develops as a result of a complex interaction between judgement and behavior as
mediated by maturation. Thus, the relationship between moral judgement and behavior is
bi-directional; overt behavior can influence moral beliefs just as moral beliefs can
influence behavior.
Structuralism sets forth the proposition that as children grow older their thinking
changes as a result of an interaction between experience and maturation (Higgins, 1995).
This change occurs in qualitatively distinct stages that begin and end with a brief
transitional period and may occur abruptly (Siegler, 1998). Thus, children’s reasoning in
earlier stages differs qualitatively from their reasoning in later ones and at any given
point in development children reason similarly on moral problems. Therefore, concepts

36
such as moral obligation are not merely learned or used independently of other concepts,
but are bound together by common structural features (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). In
fact, the relations among ideas in the individual’s thinking and the pattern of connections
within the individual’s meaning provide the hermeneutic that guides the interpretive
process (Colby & Kohlberg).
Finally, constructivism defines individuals’ active roles in constructing and
reconstructing reality. According to Colby and Kohlberg (1987a), by thinking about and
acting on the world individuals are creative because they are always inventing or
constructing new responses to new problems. Each response, however, is not simply a
creation of the moment, but is constrained and/or facilitated by the individual’s current
developmental level and the individual’s developmental history. In effect, each stage
provides a scaffold for the next. To reveal an individual’s progressive coming into
consciousness as a result of action and reason, Colby and Kohlberg, like Piaget
(1932/1965), presented informants with moral dilemmas to stimulate their moral
reasoning.
Kohlberg’s theory, Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) conceptualized a theoretical
framework based on deontic reasoning; that is, questions involving judgements of
rightness, duties, and rights. These researchers defined moral judgements as (a)
judgements of value, not of fact; (b) social judgements, involving people; and (c)
prescriptive or normative judgements, judgements of duty, or rights and responsibilities
rather than value judgements of liking or preference. Thus, moral judgements are
prescriptive because they command or oblige a prescribed course of action and are
derived from some rule or principle of action that the speaker takes as binding. Moral

37
judgements are different from social-conventional judgements (e.g., judgements about
dress, manners) because conventional judgements are relative to a particular situation, but
moral judgements are unalterable and universal.
To elicit the individual’s constitutive knowledge about the bearings, uses, and
causes of moral problems, Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) presented informants with moral
dilemmas that represented conflicts in values. For example, in the “Heinz Dilemma”
informants’ were presented with a conflict between upholding the law or stealing to save
someone’s life. Informants’ responses to these dilemmas were then evaluated by
identifying the relations among ideas in the individual’s thinking and the pattern of
connections with the individual’s meaning. Concepts such as the nature of duty, rules,
obligations, and the fairness of consequences were not perceived as concepts merely
learned or used independently of other concepts, but were envisioned as concepts bound
together by common structural features. Therefore, similar relations among ideas and a
generalized moral perspective define each level and stage of development. Moreover,
Colby and Kohlberg hypothesized that the developmental process they identified is
invariant and universal. As a result, Colby and Kohlberg identified six stages of moral
reasoning, grouped into three levels: (a) the preconventional level which includes stage 1:
punishment obedience and stage 2: personal reward moral orientations; (b) the
conventional level which includes stage 3: good boy/nice girl and stage 4: law and order
moral orientations; and (c) the principled or postconventional level which includes stage
5: social contract and stage 6: universal ethical principle moral orientations.
Preconventional level. The preconventional level describes the thinking of most
children under the age of 9, some adolescents, and many adolescent and adult criminal

38
offenders. Preconventional morality is characterized by reasoning that does not reliably
understand and uphold socially shared moral norms and expectations because the
reasoning process is constrained by naive moral realism and egocentrism. Stage 1
individuals define the right as following rules backed by punishment, obeying for its own
sake, and avoiding physical damage to persons and property. Thus, avoiding punishment
and obeying a superior authority supply the motivations for moral behavior. For example,
a stage 1 individual might reason that stealing is “wrong because you’re not supposed to
break into stores. You’ll get locked up” (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 66).
In contrast, stage 2 is represented in a concrete, individualistic perspective. Stage
2 individuals follow rules only when it serves their immediate interests and they expect
others to do the same. For this reason, they have difficulty ordering or setting priorities
when presented with conflicting needs and interests, leading to relative morality and
indecisiveness in moral judgement. Colby and Kohlberg (1987b) present the following
moral judgement as an example of stage 2 reasoning.
Because if he steals the drug, he might get caught and then he’d have to
put it back, and he’d be in jail and then he wouldn’t be able to raise the
money, (p. 70)
Conventional level. The conventional level includes most adolescents and adults
and refers to a morality guided by a socially shared systems of moral rules, roles, and
norms. During stage 3, the separate perspectives of individuals are coordinated into a
third person perspective, that of mutually trusting relationships among people embodied
in a set of shared moral norms. Stage 3 norms can be distinguished from Stage 2 rules
because they represent an integration of perspectives that is separate from strictly

39
individual interests. Colby and Kohlberg (1987b) present the following as an example of
a stage 3 moral judgement.
In reality he shouldn’t steal because the man in the shop worked hard and
earned the money, so he doesn’t have the right to steal from the shop. (p.
74)
At stage 4, the individual begins to take the perspective of a generalized member
of society and conceptualizes the social system as a consistent set of codes and
procedures that apply impartially to all members. The informally shared norms of stage 3
are systematized to maintain impartiality and consistency and an individual’s interest is
considered legitimate only when it is consistent with the maintenance of the sociomoral
system as a whole. Moral judgement, therefore, is usually made in reference to
institutions or systems. The following example expresses a stage 4 moral judgement.
The law protects the druggist whether or not he is morally right, and in
order to maintain any kind of order in society the law should be followed
as much as possible. (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 85)
Postconventional level. The postconventional level is reached after the age of 20
and by only a small minority of individuals. The term postconventional morality refers to
a general acceptance of society’s rules that is based on formulating and accepting the
general moral principles that underlie these rules. These general moral principles are
universal and unalterable and, at times, may come into conflict with society’s rules. In
this case, the postconventional individual judges by principle rather than convention.
A stage 5 prior-to-society perspective is that of a rational moral individual who
reasons using the universal values and rights that anyone would choose to build into a
moral society. Laws and social systems are evaluated in terms of the degree to which they
preserve and protect fundamental human rights and values. Within this perspective, the

40
primary focus is either on rights or on social welfare. Rights cannot be abridged even
through freely chosen contracts and each person has an obligation to make moral choices
that uphold these rights, even in cases where they conflict with society’s laws. Thus, the
perspective reflects a philosophy in which social institutions and laws are evaluated
according to their long-term consequences for the welfare of each person or group. For
example,
[A] society depends on a set of laws and regularities for its very existence
... [A] set of common agreements and understandings among people
which increases their ability to predict or control other people’s behaviors.
(Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b, p. 100)
The sociomoral perspective of stage 6 is that “the moral” reflects a point of view
that all human beings should take toward one another as free and equal autonomous
persons. This requires equal consideration of the claims of each person affected by the
moral judgement and enjoins prescriptive role taking using procedures designed to ensure
fairness, impartiality, and reversibility in role taking. Kohlberg and his colleagues did not
find many examples of stage 6 reasoning in their studies and eventually dropped this
stage from the developmental sequence (Reed, 1997). Reed constructed the following
moral judgment as an example of stage 6.
A stranger has a right to life just the same as Heinz’s wife. Heinz might
have more personal motive for stealing to save his wife’s life, but there is
no moral difference between his wife and a stranger. If Heinz were to
consider the situation from the point of view of the stranger, he would see
that there is no moral difference, (p. 72)
Table 2 summarizes the major points of Kohlberg’s theory.

41
Table 2.2
Kohlbere’s Theory
Age
Levels
Stages
Up to 9 years
Preconventional
Stage 1: Punishment-Obedience Orientation
Stage 2: Personal Reward Orientation
9-20 years
Conventional
Stage 3: Good Boy/Nice Girl Orientation
Stage 4: Law and Order Orientation
20 + years
Postconventional
Stage 5: Social Contract Orientation
Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle Orientation
Relevant Research
Piaget’s (1932/1965) and Colby and Kohlberg’s (1987a) stage theories have
received substantial attention from the research community and much of this attention has
been directed toward the development of morality in children. Stage theorists have
examined children’s moral reasoning as an invariant sequence of developmental stages
that are qualitatively identifiable by their similar structures (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones &
Gall, 1995). Others, however, have argued that the developmental process does not define
the structural elements of children’s moral judgements. On the contrary, social domain
theorists define the structure of children’s moral judgements using three social domains,
the personal, the moral, or the social-conventional (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995). Finally,
social constructivist challenge the universality of stage theories and employ cross-cultural
studies to describe the structural elements of children’s moral judgement as a reflection
of cultural specific norms and values (e.g., Brown et al., 1995; Shweder et al., 1987).

42
Evidence for Stages
Researchers have given much attention to egocentrism in young children and its
dissipation during the early elementary years. According to Piaget (1932/1965),
egocentrism serves as a psychological constraint on young children’s reasoning that
diminishes in influence as the child matures, signaling the advent of higher forms of
reasoning. Because of the limits of egocentrism, young children tend to focus on the most
salient quality of the event, the observable consequences-not the actor’s intent, when
making moral judgments. Thus, young children judge any event that evokes an adverse
consequence as egregious, regardless of the actor’s intention and state a preference for
expiatory punishment over retributive justice in response to moral transgressions. By age
6 or 7, however, egocentrism begins to give way to perspective taking, allowing children
to consider others’ motivations. At the same time, children’s preferences shift toward
retributive justice instead of expiatory punishment when responding to moral
transgressions.
In typical peers. Recent research employing a stage theory perspective provide
substantial evidence that egocentrism may, indeed, be a defining feature of young
children’s thinking that appears to fade in influence as children mature (e.g., Bussey,
1992; Jones & Gall, 1995; Zelazo, Helwiz, & Lau, 1996). To evaluate the level of
egocentrism present in children’s thinking at various ages, researchers pose moral
dilemmas and examine children’s understanding of others’ intentions. Findings suggest
that even when young children can state an actor’s intent and can define the differences
between lies and mistakes, they will judge an act as wrong if the consequences are
aversive (Bussey, 1992) or if the actor expends a high degree of effort in committing the

43
misdeed (Jones & Gall, 1995). Furthermore, findings indicate that as children mature,
their ability to understand and use an actor’s intent when making moral judgements
seems to increase as they mature (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Dixon & Moore, 1990;
Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Zelazo et al., 1996). On the other hand, Barchard and Atkins
found that children continue to prefer expiatory punishment as a response to moral
transgressions, regardless of their level of maturation; therefore, researchers have not
replicated Piaget’s developmental effect in children’s preference for retributive justice
over expiatory punishment.
Researchers have generally relied on the moral dilemma interview to prompt
children’s moral judgements, frequently varying the content of the prompt to provide
richness and depth to the results (e.g. Bussey, 1992; Nucci & Weber, 1995; Turiel,
Killen, & Helwig, 1987). Moreover, researchers generally include children of varying
ages to document maturational changes (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Jones & Gall,
1995). For example, Piaget (1965) presented child focused real life moral dilemmas to 5
to 13-year olds, Johnston (1988) presented moral dilemmas in fables to 11 to 15- year
olds, and Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) presented hypothetical moral dilemmas to
individuals across all ages.
Although the use of moral dilemmas has provided valuable information about
how children’s moral judgements may vary according to dilemma content, this data
gathering procedure requires specialized training in a labor intensive method of coding
and analysis (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a for scoring instructions). In response to this
problem, Rest (1979) developed and validated the Defining Issues Test fDITl. a
standardized, multiple-choice instrument based on Kohlberg’s hypothetical dilemmas and

44
scoring criteria. The PIT, however, is written on a 7th grade reading level, limiting its use
to older adolescents and adults. Recently, Narvaez et al. (1999) developed the Moral
Theme Inventory (MU) specifically for use with children. The purpose of the MT1 is to
assess children’s ability to understand themes of cooperation in moral stories as the
author intended or as children distort them to match their developmental level of moral
reasoning. Thus, the development of the MTI presents new research opportunities
because it provides child development researchers with a standardized complement to the
moral dilemma interview.
In students with EBP. Hardman & Smith (2001) piloted a study of moral
reasoning in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with EBP (n = 21) and typical peers (n = 21).
Study participants completed the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999), which measures children’s
ability to comprehend themes of cooperation in moral stories. These results were
submitted to a regression analysis accounting for the following independent variables:
SES, gender, ethnicity, grade, reading comprehension, and atypical/typical behavior. This
research design allowed the authors to investigate the relationships among several
cultural variables (i.e., ethnicity, gender, and SES) and the development of moral
judgement. Moreover, by including students with EBP and typical peers, these
researchers sought to further illuminate current understanding of the relationship between
behavior and reasoning. Hardman and Smith also examined the moral reasoning
processes of three students with EBP employing case study research to evaluate their
responses to moral dilemmas. The purpose of the case study research was to elaborate
students’ reasoning processes beyond their objectively evaluated abilities to detect moral
themes of cooperation as measured by the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999).

45
As a result, Hardman and Smith (2001) found a significant relationships EBD,
SES, and moral theme comprehension, but when accounting for all independent variables
(i.e., SES, gender, ethnicity, grade, reading comprehension, and atypical/typical
behavior) results showed that the effect for EBD was due to the overrepresentation of
children with low SES in the sample of students with EBD. Moreover, case study results
indicated that three students with EBD, who were also low SES, voiced self-focused,
preconventional moral judgements and did not typically voice other-focused moral
themes of cooperation. Instead of cooperation, avoiding punishment, egoistic
consequences, and seeking personal reward appeared to motivate their moral decision¬
making.
Hardman and Smith (2001) concluded that the dominance of egocentrism in the
responses of the students with EBD bears preliminary theoretically significant
implications and warrants further documentation. They also caution that because SES and
EBD were confounded, they could not evaluate the relationship between EBD and moral
theme comprehension independent of the significant effect found for SES. These findings
present additional evidence, however, that SES may provide a significant influence on the
development of children’s moral reasoning processes. While Colby, Kohlberg, and their
colleagues (1987) found SES to be significantly related to the development of moral
judgment in their longitudinal study of U.S. males, Hardman and Smith are the only
researchers to pursue the nature of this relationship further. In fact, researchers
investigating children’s moral reasoning usually conduct their research using purposively
selected samples, thereby seriously limiting the generalizability of the results to the
diverse population that defines public schools.

46
On the other hand, Hardman and Smith (2001) failed to address the emotional
concomitants of EBD in their analyses. Externalizing disorders characterized by
aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior are the most prevalent types of EBD
(Kauffman, 1995; Kauffman et al., 1987) and anger is assumed to be the emotional
motivator of these maladaptive behaviors (e.g., Kauffman, 1995; Walker et al., 1995). To
effectively evaluate the relationship between EBD and moral reasoning, the emotional
concomitants of the maladaptive behavior (i.e., anger) should be included in the analyses
(Enright, personal communication).
Evidence for Social Domains
Social domain theorists (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Turiel, Hildebrandt, &
Waintyb, 1991; Turiel et al., 1987) hypothesized that moral reasoning is defined by three
distinct conceptual domains: (a) the moral, which pertains mainly to concerns with
welfare, justice, and rights; (b) the social-conventional, which pertains to an
understanding of social uniformities and regularities as a necessary part of the smooth
and efficient functioning of social organizations; and (c) the personal, which refers to
those individual prerogatives and entitlements considered to be exempt from social
regulation (Laupa & Turiel). Thus, these researchers challenge the structural integrity of
the Piagetian/Kohlbergian framework and provide evidence that individuals, including
young children, match the content of their reasoning to the domain (i.e., moral, social-
conventional, or personal) in which the transgression applies (e.g., Smetana, Schlageman,
& Adams, 1993; Nucci & Webber, 1995; Tisak, 1996).
In typical peers. Smetana et al. (1993) examined children’s responses to
hypothetical and actual conventional and moral transgressions and found that regardless

47
of transgression type, young children judge moral transgressions to be more serious,
punishable, generally wrong, and independent of rules/authority than social-conventional
transgressions. Similarly, others have found that 3 to 5-year olds distinguish among the
moral, social-conventional, and personal domains (Crane & Tisak, 1995a; 1995b; Nucci
& Weber, 1995) and that mothers (Nucci & Weber) and teachers (Tisak, 1996) respond
differently to children’s transgressions according to domain. Therefore, researchers
conclude that the responses of teachers, parents, and peers to different types of
transgressions may significantly influence young children’s understanding of events
(Tisak). In support of structural theories, however, social domain researchers have found
that preschoolers and first graders are more likely than third graders to view mixed-
domain acts as only conventional (Smetana et al.), providing evidence that as children
mature, they are increasingly able to recognize the moral components of mixed-domain
events and to incorporate both moral and conventional considerations in their reasoning
(Crane & Tisak, 1995a; 1995b).
In violent children. Astor (1994) examined moral reasoning in 108 nonclinically
referred aggressive and nonaggressive children using vignettes about family and peer
violence. Astor found that violent and nonviolent children condemned unprovoked
violence in all family and peer social contexts. Aggressive children, however, judged
provocation as a transgression that results in serious psychological harm; therefore, it
must be answered with retribution (e.g., hitting back). In contrast, nonagressive children
did not think psychological harm warranted the serious harm that might result with
retribution. Astor concluded that provocation should be examined as a social domain and
suggested fiirther explorations of violent children’s reasoning in this domain. Although

48
Astor’s subjects included 54 violent children chosen on the basis of the frequency and
salience of their violent acts during a two-month period, Astor did not include any
measures of anger in his analyses.
In students with EBP. In a follow up study, Astor and Behre (1997) examined the
social context of provocation. Study participants included 17 boys who were enrolled in a
highly restrictive special education day treatment program designed for students with
EBD, their care providers, and a control group that consisted of a matched sample of 17
children and their caretakers. Using Astor’s vignettes (1994), Astor and Behre explored
the influence of family and peers on the approval of violence in the family and school
within three types of interpersonal relationships: parent/child; parent/parent; and peer.
Even though Astor and Behre were investigating violence at home and with peers, no
measures of anger were included in the analyses. Using Astor’s interpretation of
provocation as a social domain, Astor and Behre concluded that violent children tended
to use moral-only reasoning and nonviolent children more frequently used nonmoral-only
reasoning.
Astor and Behre’s (1997) conclusions should be viewed with caution because
they are predicated on the assumption that provocation constitutes a moral domain.
Based on this assumption, Astor and Behre coded nonviolent children’s responses that
hitting is wrong under all circumstances as non-moral reasoning and violent children’s
responses that hitting is appropriate when one is provoked were coded as moral.
According to Laupa & Turiel’s (1995) definition of social domains, provocation that
causes psychological harm falls in the personal domain, which includes individual

49
prerogatives and entitlements considered exempt from social regulation. Therefore, Astor
and Astor and Behre's findings and conclusions may be misleading.
Social Constructivist Challenges
Universal moral principles. Social constructivists also challenge the
conceptualization of moral reasoning as a cross cultural/universal phenomenon that
develops in an invariant sequence of stages. Instead, constructivists posit that moral
development is entirely a social phenomenon, directed by cultural norms and values.
Social constructivists charge that stage theories are singularly focused on justice
reasoning because justice reasoning preferences the individualistically focused values and
norms of Western middle class males, and relegates communitarian ideals, such as care
orientation, to lower developmental stages (e.g., Brown et al., 1995; Gilligan, 1982;
Gilligan, Ward, & Taylor. 1988; Shweder et al., 1987).
In an effort to examine the universality of justice reasoning, Edwards (1987)
conducted a cross cultural ethnographic study of moral development in young Oyugis
(African) children and American preschool children in a Vassar College Nursery School.
Edwards observed that young Oyugis children conform to cultural conventions according
to the salience of the social benefits connected to cooperation with the rules. Thus,
Edwards concluded that the reasons for cooperation with many rules is often
incomprehensible to young children, stating that “Oyugis parents do not need to preach to
children about the rationales underlying any of these rules because the routines of
children’s lives amply contain the evidence” (p. 140). In comparison, she found that the
values and norms taught in the Vassar College Nursery School differed from those taught
to Oyugis children, but the method of inculcation was the same. Edwards deduced that

50
the learning environment, not the child, subdivides morality into separate domains, such
as moral and conventional. She summed up the interplay of reason, culture, and
development saying, “[W]ith increasing age and experience, children apply progressively
more complex and mobile logical schemas to cultural distinctions and categories; they
transform what they are told and what they experience into their own self-organized
realities” (p. 149).
Gilligan (1982) challenged the universality of justice reasoning by examining
gender related cultural differences in moral reasoning. Gilligan and her colleagues (e.g.,
Brown et al., 1995; Gilligan et al., 1988) present evidence that moral reasoning in males
and females may be different in orientation. These researchers found that males are more
likely to interpret moral dilemmas using a justice/rights orientation and that females are
more likely to prefer a care orientation. Influenced by these findings, Cassidy, Chu, and
Dahlsgaard (1997) investigated children’s use of care and justice orientations. Children
were read four moral dilemmas designed to prompt either a care perspective (one
dilemma), a justice perspective (one dilemma), or either justice or care (two dilemmas).
These authors found that regardless of gender, children used justice and care orientations
at equal rates and would accept both orientations to the same dilemma. Barchard and
Atkins (1991) and Smetana (1993) examined the effects of gender in their research;
however, they found no significant differences in children’s reasoning based on gender.
A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral Education
Kohlberg envisioned the Just Community as a moral education intervention
intended to provide students with social experiences that would facilitate moral
development by deliberately exposing and using the hidden curriculum to create a liberal,

51
democratic community (Power et al. 1989). According to Power and his colleagues,
Kohlberg believed that the most fundamental values of our society are the values of
justice and fairness. Therefore, the purpose of moral education is to teach justice by
allowing students to learn the basic valuing processes that underlie their capacity for
moral judgement. As a result, schools transmit the consensual values of a democratic
society and not the values of specific cultures or groups.
Power et al. (1989) stated that public school educators have the responsibility to
teach values, though they do not have the right to impose their own, or any set of values
on their students. These authors agreed with Durkeim’s (1961) portrayal of the classroom
as a small society with its own rules, obligations, and sense of social cohesion; therefore,
the procedures of classroom discipline are naturally invested with moral meaning.
Schools cannot eliminate authority from classrooms, but educators can, instead, use their
authority to develop a community that enables children’s socialization into a sense of
attachment and obligation to society and its institutions.
Although the social curriculum is a vital component of the school curriculum, this
curricular component has come to been known as the hidden curriculum (Power, et al,
1989). According to Power and his co-authors, the rules that define the hidden curriculum
shape the moral atmosphere, or the context for moral learning, in the school. To
implement a Just Community based on the principles of justice and fairness, these authors
advise educators to employ the hidden curriculum when dealing with everyday rules of
behavior. Therefore, the aim of the Just Community is to expose the hidden curriculum
and transform it into a curriculum of justice, using a different form of school governance

52
where the rights of students and teachers are taken seriously and the values of justice and
fairness take primacy over the value of adult authority.
Kohlberg and his colleagues implemented the Just Community intervention in two
Boston high schools. Results indicated a modest developmental change in student’s moral
judgement stage scores. The most dramatic changes, however, were measured in the
judgements of students who reasoned at the preconventional level when the intervention
began. As a result their experiences in the Just Community, students moved from a stage
2: personal reward orientation to stage 3 and stage 4: conventional level of reasoning.
Kohlberg and his colleagues concluded,
The managerial approaches to school administration, with their emphasis
on techno-bureaucratic strategies of problems solving, have undermined
the ideas of moral education. They must give way to a more self¬
consciously democratic and communal approach. We are in need of an
educational reform far more significant than any we have know, a reform
that draws its inspiration not from technological advance but from the
moral ideals of justice, democracy, and community on which this nation
was founded, (p. 306)
Unfortunately, there have been no efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of the Just
Community approach in elementary schools, where early intervention in children’s moral
development might be the most effective.
Review of Seven Independent Variables
The current research agenda appears narrowly focused on the influence of the
developmental process and the universality of this process across cultures and gender,
leaving many important theoretical issues unresolved. For example, cognitive-
developmental researchers have not examined the influences of poverty and ethnicity
within our Western culture (Flardman & Smith, 2001), the relationship between behavior
and reasoning (Hardman & Smith), or the relationship between emotion and moral

53
judgment. While the study of children’s moral reasoning has enlisted a variety of
different perspectives (i.e., stage, social domain, and social constructivist theories),
proponents of these perspectives seem to have missed meaningful opportunities to clarify
the relationship between moral reasoning and behavior, emotion, and cultural issues
specific to America’s schools.
Socioeconomic Status fSES)
Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) presented the results of a 20-year
longitudinal study of moral reasoning in 84 U.S. males seeking support for Kohlberg’s
hypothesis that moral judgement develops in a invariant sequence of six stages. They
explored the effects of SES, IQ, and achievement assuming that these variables might
provide an important influence on stage development. Results showed that stage 3 was
present at age 10 for middle-class subjects, but not until age 13 for working-class
subjects. Stage 4 appeared at age 16 in middle-class individuals, but not until age 20 in
the lower SES group. They also found that moral judgement stage development was
related to achievement; however, partial correlations showed that differences in rate of
stage development was related to achievement as a reflection of SES differences. As a
result, Colby, Kohlberg et al. surmised that SES influences the development of moral
judgement because students with low SES do not experience the same opportunities to
participate in society as do their peers from middle income families.
Although Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) presented credible
evidence that SES might provide an important influence on the development of children’s
moral judgement, SES has been largely ignored in subsequent studies (cf. Bussy, 1992;
Jones & Gall, 1995; Smetana et al., 1993; Nucci & Webber, 1995; Tisak, 1996; Zelazo et

54
al., 1996). In Hardman and Smith’s (2001) study of moral reasoning in students with
EBD, they examined the effects of SES and found it to be significantly related to
children’s moral judgement stage development. Moreover, these authors were unable to
interpret the effects of EBD on moral reasoning because EBD and SES were confounded,
indicating that students from low SES families are being identified as emotionally
disturbed in greater numbers than are their middle income peers.
Researchers know that children from poor families appear to be at a cognitive
disadvantage when they enter school and that they are also at risk for social or behavior
problems (Bryant & Maxwell, 1997). Palakow (1998) describes poverty as an endemic
feature of the landscape of America with the largest constituency of poor Americans
being young children. In her ethnographic studies of public school classrooms, Palakow
found
widespread discrimination and prejudice on the part of teachers and school
personnel toward destitute children and their families—where classroom
environments for poor children, particularly difficult and angry children,
become landscapes of condemnation that reveal shared experiences of
exclusion, humiliation, and indifference, (p. 15)
In the case of moral reasoning, Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) and
Hardman Smith (2001) provide evidence that SES provides a significant influence.
Therefore, SES appears to represent an important cultural influence on children’s school
experiences and it also seems to represent a significant influence on the development of
children’s moral judgement.
Grade
The maturing of children’s moral judgement as a function of age is the focal point
of the research literature. Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, and Lieberman (1987) found a clear

55
relationship between age and moral judgement stage development in their longitudinal
study of American males. Using a multiple regression analysis, these authors found that
age accounted for 60% of the variance in stage scores. Moreover, they found that stage
scores at age 10 did not predict adulthood scores, but stage scores at age 13 were much
more highly correlated with later scores. As a result, Colby and Kohlberg (1987a)
conjectured that the most fruitful time period for moral education may occur before the
age of 13. Nevertheless, Kohlberg chose high schools, not elementary schools, as the
context in which to implement his Just Community intervention.
The effect of maturation on the structure of children’s moral judgement has been
widely research and documented (e.g., Barchard & Atkins, 1991; Crane & Tisak, 1995a;
1995b; Dixon & Moore, 1990); however, Hardman and Smith (2001) are the only
researchers to employed random sampling. Interestingly, these authors did not find a
developmental effect when measuring respondents’ ability to detect themes of
cooperation in moral stories. On the other hand, their study included a small sample
(N=42), a disproportionate number of students with low SES, and a limited age range
(i.e., 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades). For these reasons, Hardman and Smith advised caution when
interpreting these results and recommend continued research on the effects of maturation
on children’s moral judgement in samples that represent the diverse nature of public
school populations.
Gender
According to Reed (1997), Kohlberg began his theory building efforts as a
graduate student at the University of Chicago by studying the development of moral
judgment in a sample of American boys. He elected to include only males in his sample

56
on the advice of his advisor, who suggested that he limit the number of variables to be
include in his analyses (Reed, 1997). This decision led to credible assaults from feminist
researchers on the universality of his theory across gender (e.g., Gilligan, 1982).
Carol Gillligan (1982) was the first to raise the issue of sex bias in Kohlberg’s
theory, charging that his justice focused account of the development of moral judgement
was a by-product of sex-bias in sampling procedures. She charged that because the roles
of American males are more likely to include participation in democratic social
institutions, Kohlberg’s theory preferences the development of a justice orientation in his
hierarchical scheme of moral stage development. In contrast, Gilligan and her colleagues
(1982, 1988) found that females were more likely to voice a communitarian or care
orientation in their moral judgments, placing value on the importance of maintaining
intimate social relationships. Using Kohlberg's scheme, this kind of reasoning is
relegated to a stage 3: good boy /nice girl orientation; whereas, justice reasoning is
assigned a higher stage 4: law and order orientation (Reed, 1997). As a result, females
were more likely to be evaluated as reasoning at lower stages. Gilligan and her colleagues
concluded that the cultural role of females in American society as maintainers of intimate
social relationships might lead to the development of a different moral orientation, but
not necessarily a less sophisticated one.
Gilligan’s (1982) feminist critique of Kohlberg’s theory has resulted in the
frequent inclusion of gender in researchers’ analyses of children’s moral judgments. For
example, Barchard and Atkins (1991) and Smetana et al. (1993) included gender in their
studies of children’s moral judgements about naughtiness and punishment and found no
significant effects for this variable. Cassidy et al. (1997) focused on preschool children’s

57
ability to use care and/or justice orientations in their moral judgements and reported that
girls and boys used justice and care orientations with equal frequency and could even
accept both orientations to the same dilemma. On the other hand, Johnson (1988)
examined gender differences in adolescents’ responses to moral dilemmas presented in
fables and found that girls choose both justice and care orientations more frequently than
boys, who tended as a group to use the rights orientation more exclusively.
Anger
The study of anxiety and depression have dominated researcher interest over the
past 25 years while the study of anger has been relatively ignored (Kassinove &
Sukhodolsky, 1995). Kassinove and Sukhodolsky define anger as
[A] negative phenomenological (or internal) feeling state associated with
specific cognitive and perceptual distortions and deficiencies (e.g.,
misappraisals, errors, and attributions of blame, injustice, preventability,
and/or intentionality), subjective labeling, physiological changes, and
action tendencies to engage in socially constructed and reinforced
organized behavioral scripts. Thus anger refers to a label given to a
constellation of specific uncomfortable subjective experiences and
associated cognitions (i.e., thoughts, beliefs, images, etc.) and may
develop as a result of people’s subjective interpretation of an event, (p. 7)
Researchers have learned a great deal about the relationships among depression
and/or anxiety and cognition, finding that emotion and cognition are inextricably related
(e.g., Beck, 1976; Ellis, 1973). On the other hand, little is known about the relationship
between anger and cognition. In fact, Eckhardt and Deffenbacker (1995) state that the
study of anger has been neglected. According to recent findings, angry responses to any
given situation do not appear to be dependent upon actual events, but may, instead, be
dependent on the individuals’ subjective interpretations of events (e.g., Dodge & Coie
1987; Levine, 1995), thereby signally the passing of moral judgement (Othof et al.,

58
1989). Thus, researchers know that the relationship between anger and cognition is
reciprocal (Kassinove, 1995), but the direction of the relationship is not clear. In other
words, feelings of anger may precede judgement (Deffenbacher et al., 1996, Dodge &
Coie; Walker et. al, 1995) or judgment may precede anger (e.g., Downey et al., 1998;
Enright & Fitzgibbons; Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992; Murphy & Eisenberg, 1996). The
former position emphasizes anger as a trait that influences cognition, but the latter
presents trait anger as a justified response to perception of injustice and rejection.
According to Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995), the typical instigation of anger
begins with a value judgment. Therefore, anger represents an attribution of blame that is
dependent upon individuals’ perceptions of their social relationships. The emerging
literature on children’s anger presents evidence that there may be a significant
relationships among social competence, rejection, anger, and moral judgement. For
example, Murphy and Eisenberg (1996) found that social competency predicts anger
intensity and Downey, and her colleagues (1998) found that poor and minority children
who angrily expect social rejection behavior more aggressively, experience increased
interpersonal difficulties, and decline in academic learning over time. In addition, Fabes
and Eisenberg (1992) found that children who were low in social status and social
competence seemed to invite aggressive conflict. Nevertheless, research on children’s
anger seems to be in an incipient stage (e.g., Boekaerts, 1993; Fabes & Eisenberg;
Murphy & Eisenberg), leaving many important questions about the relationship between
anger and moral judgment unexplored and unanswered.

59
Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBP)
An emotional/behavioral disorder is a complex, multifaceted disability that is
defined by the presence of disordered behavior, emotion, and cognition (Kauffman,
1995). According to Kauffman the maladaptive behavior of students with EBD can be
represented in externalizing disorders characterized by aggression, disruption, and
antisocial behavior or it may be represented in internalizing disorders such as withdrawal
and anxiety. Externalizing disorders seem to represent the most common form of EBD
(Kauffman et al, 1987; Walker, 1995); however, this may be the case because
externalizing disorders also represent the most commonly cited reason for referral to
special education (Kauffman & Wong, 1991). Because of their maladaptive behavior,
students with EBD often face rejection and rebuke from peers and teachers, resulting in
their removal from the general education classroom and likely placement in special
classes, day schools, and alternative schools (Kauffman).
While the federal definition of EBD refers specifically to unhappiness and
depression as the underlying emotional concomitants of EBD, researchers suggest that
anger may also contribute to the development of EBD, especially when maladaptive
behavior is represented in aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior (Walker et. al.,
1995). Walker and his co-authors proposed (1995) a seven phase acting-out cycle that
includes the following phases: calm; trigger; agitation; acceleration; peak; de-escalation;
and recovery. These authors also identified numerous school-based (e.g., conflicts,
changes in routine, provocations, pressure, and ineffective problem solving) and
nonschool-based “triggers” (dysfunctional homes, health problems, nutrition, substance
abuse, and gangs) that instigate aggressive behavior. Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995)

60
point out, however, that aggression is not always instigated by anger and suggest that the
intent of aggression can be either instrumental or emotional. Instrumental aggression is
carried out for an extrinsic purpose, while emotional or hostile aggression derives from
an urge to attack someone when one feels angry, even though one may not profit from
aggression. One may even be willing to pay a price for it. According to Kassinove and
Sukhodolsky, this type of aggression frequently occurs in response to a perceived
injustice.
An emotional/behavioral disorder is also defined by cognitive limitations other
than emotional disorders. According to the federal definition, (IDEA, 1997) students with
EBD exhibit “an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or
health factors.” Thus, the definition specifically identifies learning deficiencies as an
important element of the disability in addition to emotional and behavioral disorders.
Researchers generally point to a population tendency toward a low average IQ to provide
evidence that learning deficiencies may accompany EBD (Kauffman, 1995). Therefore,
the emotional/behavioral/cognitive complexity of EBD seems to present child
development researchers with a unique opportunity to explore the relationships among
behavior, emotion, and cognition and children’s moral judgement. Yet, students with
EBD have not been included in studies examining children’s moral reasoning processes
(cf. Brown et al., 1995; Bussey, 1992; Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Jones & Gall, 1995;
Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Piaget, 1932/1965; Shweder et al. 1987). Therefore, the study of
students’ thinking processes has been limited to identifying cognitive distortions/deficits
that lead to aggression, disruption, and antisocial behavior and the reinforcement

61
contingencies that maintain cognition, emotion, and behavior (e.g., Kaplan & Carter,
1995).
Ethnicity
According to Colby, Kohlberg, and Nisan (1987), both the stages and the
sequence of development for moral judgement are universal, or culturally invariant.
[Mjoral judgement represents underlying thought organization rather than
specific responses; its development results from a process of interaction
between organismic structuring tendencies and universal features of social
experience, rather than from “transmission” through genetics or direct
shaping; and the direction of development is toward greater equalibration
in the organism-environmental interaction and reciprocity between the self
and other, (p. 119)
To provide support for this proposition, Colby and Kohlberg (1987) reported the results
of two longitudinal cross-cultural studies, a study of moral judgment in Turkish males
and a study of Israeli kibbutz adolescents.
In the study of Turkish males, Colby, Kohlberg, and Nisan (1987) found that the
moral judgements of Turkish study participants fit the stage structures and sequence
proposed by Kohlberg's theory. The sequence observed, however, was limited to the first
four stages in Kohlberg’s scheme, prompting the authors to suggest a continued
examination of the universality of stages 5 and 6 across cultures. These authors suggested
that it is possible that other cultures hold moral principles that are different from
American males, thus their moral reasoning may not fit the higher stage structures
described by Kohlberg.
Colby, Kohlberg, Snarey, and Reimer (1987) reported the findings of Kohlberg’s
longitudinal study of 92 kibbutz adolescents. They found support for Kohlberg’s theory
observing that the development of moral judgement in kibbutzniks followed the patterns

62
reported for samples in the U.S. and other cultures. Moreover, they observed that the
maturation of moral judgement in this population seemed to be accelerated when
compared to the other cultures studied, including the U.S. As a result, the kibbutz culture
inspired Kohlberg to model his idea for a moral education intervention, The Just
Community, after the democratically organized community exemplified in the Israeli
kibbutz (Power et ah, 1989).
Others have also conducted cross-cultural studies frequently offering findings that
challenge Kohlberg’s claim of universality (e.g., Edwards, 1987). Few, however, have
studied the relationship between moral reasoning and identification with an ethnic
minority within American society. For example, Narvaez and her co-authors (1999)
examined the relationship between ethnicity and moral theme comprehension by
evaluating participants’ ratings of “ingroup” themes found in the moral message choices
of the MTI (e.g., Helping strangers instead of your friends can cause trouble. If you think
of others first instead of your family, your family may suffer.). Because there were too
few members for each minority group, they collapsed all ethnic categories into a “non¬
white” category and compared it with “white”. Even though the participant sample
included university students, only the 3rd and 5th grade children’s scores were included in
this analysis because there was only one “non-white” university participant. The test was
significant meaning that “non-white” children rated the “ingroup” themes higher (i.e. “the
same” or “very much the same”) than “white” children rated these same themes.
Hardman and Smith (2001) also used the MTI (Narvaez et al. 1999) to assess participants
ability to comprehend moral themes of cooperation; however, they did not analyze

63
respondents’ ratings of “ingroup” themes. They did include ethnicity in their correlation
and regression analyses and found no significant etfects for ethnicity.
Reading Comprehension
In 1993, William Bennett proclaimed that reading moral stories (“Book of
Virtues”) to children would improve their moral literacy. Narvaez and her co-authors
(1999) challenged Bennett’s prescription stating that little research had been done about
the influence of reading moral stories on the development of moral literacy. They
proposed that moral theme comprehension is an ability that is related to but separate from
reading comprehension. These authors developed the MT1 as a way to assess children’s
ability to comprehend moral themes in stories. Using the MTI children were asked
whether or not they understood the moral lessons from four stories and they were asked
to respond to reading comprehension questions for each story.
As a result, Narvaez et al. (1999) reported that developmental differences in moral
theme comprehension were evident even after reading comprehension was taken into
account. These authors found that the study participants assimilated the moral messages
of the stories to match their level of moral thinking or moral schema development.
Furthermore, results indicated that even when standardized reading comprehension and
vocabulary scores were used as covariates along with the reading comprehension items,
there were still significant differences between the 3rd and 5th grade students on moral
theme comprehension task. They argued that while these results are preliminary, they
support the proposition that moral text comprehension requires something beyond
reading comprehension. Moreover, they concluded that it is possible to use an objective
method to peer into the moral mind of the child and recommended continued research

64
examining such things as the differences between moral and non-moral theme
comprehension, the relation between moral theme comprehension and scores on moral
judgment interviews, and whether certain kinds of moral themes are understood
developmentally sooner than other moral themes.
Summary
The cognitive developmental perspective of the development of morality in
children is grounded in the assumption that children create knowledge as a result of a bi¬
directional relationship between thinking and experience. Reasoning is conceptualized as
an intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between the things children do
and the consequences that ensue (Dewey, 1916/1944). The development of judgement,
however, is couched in a developmental process that may constrain or facilitate higher
stages of thinking (Piaget, 1932/1965).
In 1932, Piaget conducted a study of children’s moral reasoning, employing a
cognitive-developmental approach to describe and explain the phenomenon. Assuming
that children construct their moral realities as a result of their mental and physical
actions, Piaget examined how nature and experience influence children’s understanding
of morality. As a result, Piaget authored the first stage theory describing the development
of morality as a cognitively structured, maturational process. Piaget identified four
developmental stages that define children’s practice of rules. These four stages are
sensorimotor, egocentric stage, cooperation stage, codification of rules. Through the
practice of rules (experience), children also develop a consciousness of rules (thinking),
in three stages: nonmoral; heteronomous morality; autonomous morality.

65
In 1987, Colby and Kohlberg authored what might be one of the finest examples
of a stage theory (Higgins, 1995). Their theoretical framework was based on deontic
reasoning; that is, questions involving judgements of rightness, duties, and rights. These
authors defined moral judgements as (a) judgements of value, not of fact; (b) social
judgements, involving people; and (c) prescriptive or normative judgements, judgements
of duty, or rights and responsibilities rather than value judgements of liking or
preference. Moreover, moral judgements are prescriptive because they command or
oblige a prescribed course of action and are derived from some rule or principle of action
that the speaker takes as binding. For example, moral judgements are different from
social-conventional judgements (i.e., judgements about dress, manners) because
conventional judgements are relative to a particular situation; whereas, moral judgements
are unalterable and universal. Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) identified six stages of moral
reasoning, grouped into three levels: the preconventional level which includes
punishment obedience and personal reward orientations; the conventional level which
includes good boy/nice girl and law and order orientations; and the principled or
postconventional level which includes social contract and universal ethical principle
orientations.
The structural theories of moral development posed by Piaget (1932/1965) and
Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) have received substantial attention from child development
researchers investigating the development of morality in children. In this regard,
researchers have focused their efforts primarily on the development of moral reasoning as
an invariant sequence of developmental stages (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones & Gall, 1995),
as a function of social domains (e.g., Laupa & Turiel, 1995), and as a reflection of

66
cultural norms and values (e.g., Brown et aL, 1995; Shweder et al., 1987). Nevertheless,
child development researchers have missed opportunities to examine the relationship
between moral reasoning and cultural issues relevant to our Western culture (i.e., poverty,
ethnicity), behavior, and emotion.
Since Piaget’s (1932/1965) seminal study, researchers have generally relied on
the moral dilemma interview to elicit children’s moral judgements (e.g. Bussey, 1992;
Nuccl & Weber, 1995; Turiel et al., 1987). Recently, however, Narvaez et al. (1999)
developed the Moral Theme Inventory (MXÍ) which presents new opportunities for
research on the development of morality in children. The MTI was developed for use
with children and provides child development researchers with a standardized
complement to the moral dilemma interview.
Only three studies have examined moral reasoning in children with EBD, with
one of those being a pilot of the present study. None have examined the relationship
between moral reasoning and emotion. In this study, Hardman and Smith (2001) reported
that study participants with EBD demonstrated by their responses to the MTI (Narvaez et
al., 1999) and moral dilemmas presented by a researcher that they did not understand
moral themes of cooperation and that cooperation as a moral motivator was not a part of
their experience. Instead, the participants with EBD perceived morality as dictated by
external forces such as law and adult authority and not obligated from within. Moreover,
their moral reasoning appeared to be motivated by the avoidance of punishment and
trouble and seeking personal reward. Hardman and Smith concluded that the dominance
of egocentrism in the responses of the students with EBD bears preliminary theoretically
significant implications and warrants fixrther documentation. These researchers also

caution that SES and EBD were confounded; therefore, the relationship between EBD
and moral reasoning could not be evaluated independent of the significant effect found
for the variable SES.
The other two studies were both couched in a social domain perspective. Astor
(1994) and Astor and Behre (1997) found that violent, antisocial children view
provocation as causing such severe psychological harm that inflicting physical harm to
the perpetrator (hitting) is a morally appropriate response. These authors used this
interpretation of violent and non violent children’s moral judgements to reach the
conclusion that violent, antisocial children reason more frequently in the moral domain
when compared with typical peers.
Of the seven independent variables targeted in the present study, only grade (or
age) and gender have received attention in the research literature. The influence of SES
on moral reasoning has not been examined since Colby, Kohlberg, and their colleagues
(1987) first identified this variable as one that is significantly related the development of
moral orientation. The relationship between EBD and moral reasoning has not been
addressed until recently (Astor & Behre, 1997, Hardman & Smith, 2001) and ethnicity,
too, has received little attention from researchers. Narvaez et al. (1999) have been the
only researchers to examine the dependence of moral theme comprehension on reading
comprehension and none of the moral development researchers has examined the
relationship between anger and moral reasoning, even though there is ample evidence to
suggest that emotion and cognition are related.

CHAPTER III
METHOD
In Chapter III, I present the research methods and procedures of the study. For the
purposes of presentation, the chapter has been divided into five sections. Because
researchers have not targeted moral reasoning in elementary students with EBD using
stage theory, I found it necessary to begin my inquiry with a pilot study. The methods,
procedures, and results of the pilot is followed by an introduction to the present study,
which includes a statement of research hypothesis and a description of the research
design. The final three sections provide a description of the setting and participants,
instrumentation, and research procedures.
Introduction to the Pilot Study
The purpose of the pilot was to explore the moral reasoning of 3rd, 4th, and 5th
grade students with EBD. Previously, researchers have not determined whether moral
reasoning in elementary students with EBD is different from their typical peers; however,
they have found that moral reasoning may be influenced by gender (e.g., Brown et al.,
1995; Gilligan 1982), culture (e.g., Edwards, 1987; Shweder et al., 1987), socioeconomic
status, and age (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). I targeted moral
reasoning in elementary-aged students because the number of students with EBD seems
to increase rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5th grade present the
best opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et aL, 1995), and mid to late elementary
years provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget).
68

69
Because a disproportionate number of African American males and students with SES
characterize the population of students with EBD (Kauffman, 1995), I also examined the
effects of SES, ethnicity, and gender on moral reasoning. Moreover, I included reading
comprehension in my analyses because researchers have found it to be strongly related to
moral theme comprehension (Narvaez et al., 1999).
Statement of Research Hypothesis
Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following hypothesis:
When accounting for gender, ethnicity, reading comprehension, SES, atypical/typical
group, and grade, there will be a significant positive relationship between reading
comprehension and atypical/typical group and moral theme comprehension.
Research Design
I employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to address the
hypothesis. I used causal comparative methods to explore the relationship between EBD
and moral reasoning in typical and atypical samples and case study research methods to
explore themes and relationships in students’ thinking at the case level, thereby adding
depth and richness to the quantitative results. Ex post facto criterion-group research is a
causal comparative design used when the researcher arrives at the scene after the
treatment has been administered (Shavelson, 1996). According to Gall, Borg, and Gall
(1996) the primary objective is to discover possible causes and effects of a behavior
pattern or personal characteristic by comparing individuals in whom it is present with
individuals in whom it is absent, or present to a lesser degree. The causal comparative
design allows the determination of difference and, at the same time, an analysis of the
relationships several variables. Thus, causal comparative methodology is particularly

70
useful when cause-and-effect relationships are not amenable to experimental
manipulation. A disadvantage of causal-comparative research, however, is that the task of
establishing causality becomes more difficult (Gall et al.). Therefore, the researcher must
use both theory and data to eliminate rival hypotheses and justify causal relations within
the proposed model (Shavelson).
Case study is a form of qualitative research that allows the researcher to study a
phenomenon in its natural context by focusing on specific instances or cases, thereby
conducting an in-depth analysis of each case from an emic (Gall et al., 1996). For
example, cognitive-developmental researchers have employed case study research to
examine children’s moral reasoning by posing moral dilemmas or problems to elicit their
reasoning processes. Children’s responses to these moral prompts are, then, submitted to
an analysis in which the researcher seeks a window into the basic motives, desires, and
intent of the informant’s reasoning (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997). In some instances, talk
may be viewed as descriptive; that is, informants are treated as reporters on experience.
In case study research, however, talk is considered constituitive. The informant becomes
the author of experience (Gubrium & Holstein).
Setting and Participants
I conducted the pilot in one moderately sized school district with approximately
30,000 students in rural, Central Florida. I petitioned 23 elementary schools and one
special day school for students with serious emotional disturbance (SED) to participate in
the project. The principals often elementary schools and the special day school agreed to
participate. From the 11 participating schools, I selected a computer generated random
sample of 40 students from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade general education population and 40

71
students from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade special education population designated as
emotionally handicapped (EH) or SED (n = 40). Parental consent letters were sent home
with the 80 randomly selected students and 42 students subsequently returned signed
consents. Interestingly, the informed consent process produced an equal number of study
participants for each group. One elementary school had only one student selected and that
student did not return a parental consent form, reducing the number of participating
schools to 10. Results of a one-sample chi-square test indicated that the final participant
sample (N = 42) did not differ proportionately from the random sample (N= 80) on any
of the variables of interest: grade, ethnicity, SES, gender, or behavior type (typical versus
atypical).
When the magnitude of the treatment effect is not directly under the researcher’s
control, the researcher should investigate the treatment effect by pilot testing the study
(Shavelson, 1996). According to Shavelson, estimating the effect size is an important step
in planning a study because the greater the treatment effect, the greater the power of the
test to detect statistical difference and the probability of making a Type II error is
reduced. Because previous researchers have not included elementary students with EBD
in their samples, a pilot was necessary to estimate the magnitude of the treatment effect.
Shavelson (1996) identified three other factors that may also influence the power
of the statistical test: (a) variability in the population, (b) sample size; and (c) level of
significance. According to Shavelson, the power of the statistical test can be improved by
sampling subjects from a homogeneous population. Sample homogeneity, however, may
also reduce estimates of reliability, thereby limiting statistical power. Narvaez et al.
(1999) estimated the reliability of the MTI using a sample that included a wider age range

72
of respondents than those targeted in the pilot, creating additional concerns about
statistical power. Moreover, because the pilot was exploratory, sample sizes were small,
but reducing the sample size also limits the power of the test.
Finally, Shavelson (1996) stated that by decreasing the level of statistical
significance, the power of the test can be increased and the probability of making a Type
II error can be reduced. Usually researchers are conservative when setting the level of
significance (e.g., .05 or .01); however, since this was a pilot study, the probability of
making a Type II error increased in importance. Therefore, I set alpha at. 10 for all
analyses to increase statistical power because there was no information about the
expected magnitude of effect sizes from previous research, participant samples were
small, and the reliability of the MTI using a limited age range was not known.
A chi-square analysis comparing the group of students with EBD (n = 21) and
their typical peers (n = 21) on each variable of interest (i.e., gender, ethnicity, SES,
grade) was significant (a = .10) for SES, /2 (1, N =21) = 9.528, p = .002 and ethnicity,
X2 (1, N = 21) = 3.055,p = .081, indicating that the participants with EBD included
proportionately more minority children and more children from low SES families when
compared with typical peers. All other proportions were within chance expectations (i.e.,
gender, grade).
I purposively selected three students from the participant sample of students with
EBD to participate in moral dilemma interviews. The sample included two female
students, one 4th grader and one 5th grader, and one 3rd grade male student. The 3rd and
4lh graders attended the same school, but were not in the same classroom. All three
participants attended special classes for students with EBD.

Pilot Study Instrumentation
73
Moral Theme Inventory (MTI)
The purpose of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) is to assess students’ ability to
understand the themes of cooperation in moral stories as the author intended or as they
distort them to match their developmental level of moral reasoning. The MTI requires
respondents to listen to four stories and respond to five tasks for each story. It is given in
two 50-minute periods and yields two composite scores: reading comprehension and
moral theme comprehension. The reading comprehension task includes 10 true-false
reading comprehension questions for each of the four stories. The moral theme
comprehension composite is a 12-item test that includes four tasks: (a) rate how well four
vignettes match the story’s theme on a five point Lickert scale, (b) select the vignette that
best matches the story theme, (c) select two theme choices that best match the story
theme, and (d) rate how well 7 or 8 theme choices match the story theme on a five-point
Lickert scale. All stories and response choices are on audiotape.
Reliability and validity. Narvaez and her co-authors (1999) used the responses of
two pilot groups to generate the moral themes and distortions included in the theme rating
and theme selection tasks. The MTI was, then, administered to a sample that included SO¬
S'11 graders and 54 - 5th graders selected from one public elementary school and 28 adults
enrolled in an educational psychology class at a public university. As a result of this
administration of the MTI. Narvaez et al. (1999) reported a Cronbach alpha reliability of
.89 for the moral theme comprehension composite and an alpha of .81 for the reading
comprehension composite. Using pilot results, I calculated a Cronbach alpha reliability of

74
.74 for the moral theme composite and a Cronbach alpha reliability of .83 for the reading
comprehension task.
Moral Dilemma Interview
I used three types of moral dilemmas to elicit informants’ moral judgements:
Kohlbergian (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a); Piagetian (see Piaget, 1932/1965); and
literature based using the characters and setting found in the children’s book, The Boxcar
Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The Boxcar Children is a story about the
adventures of four children who have lost both parents and are trying to live on their own.
I varied the dilemma type to examine the consistency of children’s reasoning across
dilemmas, and I created The Boxcar Children dilemmas to provide an increased focus on
the issue of obedience to an external authority, a dominant theme of children’s reasoning
(Colby & Kohlberg; Piaget).
Over the course of three 30 to 45-minute interviews, informants listened to a total
of eight hypothetical dilemmas. Each dilemma presented a conflict between two moral
issues (e.g., obedience to authority versus obedience to conscience), requiring informants
to make a choice as to which issue should take priority in the hypothetical situation.
Immediately following the reading of each dilemma, I asked informants to demonstrate
an adequate understanding of the pertinent facts and issues presented in the dilemma,
providing reviews when necessary. After informants demonstrated an adequate level of
comprehension, I asked them to make an issue choice. Following a statement of the
informants’ issue choice, I probed the informant’s reasoning about their choice to elicit
moral judgements and I also probed their reasoning about the issue that was not favored

75
to generate additional information about the consistency of informants’ reasoning
processes.
Reliability and validity. Colby and Kohlberg (1987a) evaluated construct validity
for the Moral Judgment Interview by how well the data match the hypothesized
theoretical framework for the development of moral reasoning. Thus, evidence of
construct validity is represented in a good fit between the patterns discovered and theory.
To the extent that individuals’ responses to hypothetical dilemmas predict real-life moral
judgements, Colby and Kohlberg concluded that this element of validity is limited by the
absence of techniques for scoring real-life moral judgements.
Data Collection
Moral Theme Inventory
I created an SPSS Base 10.0 file that included a list of student numbers,
participant numbers, and extant data (i.e., atypical/typical group, SES, ethnicity, gender,
and grade). Every participant (42) completed the Moral Theme Inventory tMTI) (Narvaez
et al., 1999) at their schools and at a time and place arranged by the school counselor.
The MTI was given in two 50-minute sessions and in each session, students listened to
two stories and responded to five tasks for each story (i.e., reading comprehension task
and four moral theme comprehension tasks). A research assistant scored participants’
responses to the MTI and entered them into the SPSS Base 10.0 file. The scores of four
participants with EBD were eliminated from the data analysis procedures because of
missing data on some of the moral theme comprehension tasks.
I interviewed each of the 3 informants three times at their schools with each
interview lasting approximately 30-45 minutes. The time and date for each interview was

76
arranged with the informant’s teacher. In the event of absences, interview appointments
were rescheduled. All interviews were audiotaped and upon the completion of Interview
III, I gave each participant a copy The Boxcar Children. Interviewing began on May 1,
2000 and was completed on June 2, 2000.
As a result of this data gathering procedure, I conducted a total of 9 interviews (3
students x 3 interviews). A student assistant transcribed all interviews into a word
processing file and I entered them into The Ethnoeraph (v5.0~) for coding and analysis.
Each informant was given a code name, using the names of the three older children in
The Boxcar Children Warner, 1977). The 3rd grade male participant was given the name
Henry, the 4lh grade female participant was given the name Violet, and the 5111 grade
female participant was assigned the name Jessie. The 9 interviews produced yielded 130
pages of interview protocol.
Moral Dilemma Interview
I used a modified form of standard issue scoring (see Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a)
to interpret informants’ responses to eight moral dilemmas. Each dilemma presented a
conflict between two moral issues (e.g., obedience to authority versus obedience to
conscience), requiring informants to make a choice as to which issue should take priority
in the hypothetical situation. Table 3.1 lists the stories by title and the conflict in values
posed by each dilemma and the definitions for each issue choice are presented in Table
3.2.
Comprehension. I initiated the interpretive process by first evaluating informants'
comprehension of the moral dilemmas. Immediately following the telling of each
dilemma, I asked the informants’ a few comprehension questions to generate data about

their basic understanding of the facts and issues presented in the dilemma. Whenever
informants responded to these questions with confusion about any pertinent issues or
Table 3.1
Issues Represented in Eight Dilemmas
Dilemma
Interview
Issue
Heinz’s Dilemma
I
Part 1
Life versus Law
Part 2
Conscience versus Law
Part 3
Conscience versus Punishment
Louise’s Dilemma
I
Authority versus Contract
Father’s Pen
II
Conscience versus Punishment
Mother’s Scissors
II
Punishment versus Fairness
Doine Chores
II
Authority versus Contract
The Foolish Brother
II
Authority versus Affiliation
The Lone Walk
II
Fairness: Equity versus Equality
The Boxcar Children
III
Part 1
Affiliation versus Authority
Part 2
Affiliation versus Law
Part 3
Affiliation versus Life
facts, I reviewed the story and continued asking comprehension questions until the child
demonstrated an adequate understanding. When the informant and I were both
comfortable with the level of comprehension, I then proceeded with questions designed

78
to probe the informants reasoning processes. Therefore, the first interpretive task was to
examine all data coded comprehension to evaluate informants’ understanding of the
dilemmas. As a result of this analysis, I determined that every informant seemed to have
an adequate understanding of the issues and facts presented in the dilemmas. Thus, I
proceeded with the analysis of informants reasoning processes by segmenting their
responses into two broad categories, issue choice (IC) and moral judgement (MJ).
Issue choice. The purpose of all eight dilemmas was to present the informant with
a conflict between two moral issues, so after listening to a dilemma and reviewing the
basic issues and facts presented, I asked each informant to choose the issue that should
take priority. Informants usually made clear issue choices following the comprehension
probes; however, occasionally they had to work through their justifications for each
choice and then make a decision after examining the pros and cons indicated by each
choice. Ultimately, informants made clear issue choices in all instances, resulting in a
total of 36 issue choices (12 choices x 3 informants).
Moral judgement. The next interpretive task was to examine informants’
justifications for their issue choices as expressed in their moral judgements. A segment of
text was categorized as a moral judgement (MJ) when the justification was prescriptive
(i.e., included words like “should” and “ought”) and the informant identified a valued
norm (e.g., authority) and a moral element (e.g., obey to avoid punishment) that provided
a reason for valuing the norm (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). This analysis produced 247
MJs that were submitted to fiirther analysis to identify valued norms and moral elements.
Norm, The norm is the component of the MJ that represents the moral value(s) or
object(s) of concern that is being brought to bear by the informant in justifying the issue

79
choice in the dilemma (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). Thus, the norms informants valued in
supporting their issue choices could include norms other than those presented in the issue
choice. For example, in “Heinz’s Dilemma”, informants were presented with a conflict
between the issues of stealing a drug to save the life of one’s wife (IC life) or upholding
the law and not stealing (1C law). In this example, informants might choose the law issue
(not steal), but could justify the IC law by valuing the norms property, law, affiliation,
and/or conscience. An informant could decide to “not steal” because it is against the ¡aw
or they could decide to “not steal” because it’s not right to take someone else’s property
without asking. I also probed their reasoning on issues not favored. The purpose of those
probes was to generate additional information about the informants’ reasoning processes
and the consistency of their reasoning across issues. Table 3.2 provides a list of the norms
informants valued to justify their issue choices.
Moral element. To complete the moral judgement, the informant must give a
reason for endowing the norm with value. This segment of an MJ is called the moral
element and is categorized as either a modal or value element. (Colby & Kohlberg,
1987a). According to Colby and Kohlberg, a model element expresses the mood or
modality of the moral language and included words such as should, must, deserves, and
has a right. Sometimes informants offered only modal elements as terminal values or
justifications. For example, when asked why stealing is wrong, an informant might
simply reply, “It’s just wrong”, failing to provide a terminal value element in explaining
why stealing is wrong. This kind of response indicates that the informant is speaking
from a normative order orientation in which maintaining the norm is an end in itself. In

80
Table 3.2
Norms Valued and Their Definitions
Norm
Definition
affiliation
maintaining relationship
authority
obligated by an authority figure
conscience
obligated by good intentions
contract
keeping promises
fairness
issuing justice with equity or equality
law
obligated by law or rules
life
maintaining quality or quantity of life
property
respecting property rights
punishment
obligated by fear of retribution
contrast, value elements represent ultimate ends, values, or reasons set forth by the
informant as the terminal value in the MJ. For example, when an informant says that
stealing is wrong because “you might go to jail”, the informant is expressing the
avoidance of punishment as the terminal value. Table 3.3 lists the modal and value
elements found within informants’ MJs in response to the moral dilemmas posed.

81
Table 3.3
The Moral Elements
Modal Elements
Upholding normative order
1. Obeying/consulting persons or deity. Should obey, get consent (should consult,
persuade.
2. Blaming/approving. Should be blamed for, disapproved (should be approved).
3. Retributing/exonerating. Should retribute against (should exonerate).
4. Having a right/having no right.
5. Having a duty/having no duty.
Value Elements
Egoistic consequences Ideal or harmonv-serving consequences
1. Seeking reward/avoiding punishment 1. Serving a social ideal or harmony
2. Avoiding trouble for oneself 2. Fairness: equality versus equity
3. Balancing perspectives or role taking
4. Good/bad consequences for others
Pilot Study Results
The results of a simultaneous multiple regression analysis indicated that the
coefficients for SES (B = 4.009, p = .080) and reading comprehension (B = .516, p =
.001) were significant. The coefficient for typical/atypical group was not significant;
however, correlation results showed that EBD and SES were confounded. Therefore, the

82
significance of the relationship between EBD and moral theme comprehension could not
be determined with these data.
An analysis of interview data suggested that 3rd grade Henry and 5th grade Jessie’s
moral judgements were dominated by a Punishment/Obedience Orientation, but also
contained frequent references to an individualistic perspective consistent with a Personal
Reward Orientation. In contrast, 4lh grade Violet’s moral orientation seemed to be almost
entirely consistent with a Personal Reward Orientation. A synthesis of the quantitative
and qualitative results provided evidence that students in the EBD sample may rely on
preconventional reasoning to guide their moral judgement. These results, however,
should be viewed with caution since EBD and SES were confounded in both data
sources. Preconventional reasoning is characterized by a morality that is obligated by
external forces, such as adults, law, and punishment, and is motivated by egoistic
concerns. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings bear significant
import and warrant further investigation using a larger sample in which SES is controlled.
Introduction To The Present Study
Cognitive developmental researchers portray the development of morality as a
maturational progression through a series of qualitatively different stages (e.g., Colby &
Kohlberg, 1987a; Piaget, 1932/1965). Typically, researchers use the moral dilemma
interview to gather data about children’s reasoning processes (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg;
Piaget), however, the recent development of the Moral Theme Inventory (Narvaez, et al.,
1999) presents a unique opportunity for child development researchers to integrate
quantitative and qualitative research methods to facilitate theory building and increase
explanatory power. In the present study I integrated qualitative and quantitative research

83
methods to extend the pilot findings by adapting sampling procedures to control for SES,
a variable known to be confounded with EBD, and by examining the influence of trait
anger on the development of moral reasoning. The most prevalent types of EBD are
externalizing disorders that include maladaptive behavior in the form of aggression,
disruption, and antisocial behavior (Kauffman et al., 1987). Thus, the variable trait anger
was added because it is commonly recognized as the underlying affective component of
externalizing disorders (Walker et al., 1995). Therefore, the purpose of the present study
is to explore the relationships among behavior, trait anger (emotion), and moral reasoning
(cognition) in a sample of elementary students with EBD and their typical peers while
controlling for SES.
Statement of Research Hypothesis
The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to
examine the relationships among moral reasoning, trait anger, and EBD. I included
elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD seems to increase
rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5°' grade present the best
opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary years
provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget,
1932/1965). Because the population of students with EBD is characterized by a
disproportionate number of African American males and students with low SES
(Kauffman, 1995), I included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also included
reading comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional variable, and
the student’s grade in school to gauge developmental change.

84
Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following research
hypothesis: When accounting for the variables gender, ethnicity, trait anger, reading
comprehension, SES, atypical/typical group, and grade, there will be a significant
positive relationship between reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension
and a significant negative relationship between trait anger and moral theme
comprehension.
Design
To implement the present study, I replicated the same research design described
in the pilot. 1 integrated quantitative and qualitative research methods using an ex post
facto criterion group design and case study research to facilitate an in-depth study of
informants’ moral reasoning processes. An ex post facto criterion group design prescribes
a type of quantitative methodology grounded in the assumption that features of the social
environment constitute an independent reality and are relatively constant across time and
settings. According to Gall et al. (1996), the objective is to discover possible causes and
effects of a behavior pattern or personal characteristic by comparing individuals in whom
it is present with individuals in whom it is absent, or present to a lesser degree. The
researcher collects data on observable behaviors of samples and then subjects these data
to numerical analysis and interpretations that can be generalized to populations.
In contrast, qualitative methodology implied by case study research requires the
study of phenomena in natural settings as a subjective reality (Gall et aL, 1996). In case
study research, researchers interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to
them (Cuba & Lincoln, 1994). Thus, the objective is to obtain intricate details about
phenomena such as feelings, thought processes, and emotions that are difficult to extract

85
or learn through more conventional research methods (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The
researcher treats social facts as things and interprets them with the aim of describing and
explaining relationships among concepts (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997). Therefore, the
qualitative researcher is concerned primarily with process (Creswell, 1994), and the
interpretive activities persons undertake, moment by moment, to construct, manage, and
sustain the sense that their social worlds exist as factual and objectively “there” (Gubrium
& Holstein).
According to Gall et al. (1996), when the researcher uses a multiple-case design,
the generalizability of constructs and themes across cases can be checked by noting
whether a particular theme observed in one case also is present in the other cases. The
generalizability of case study results to individuals or situations beyond those included in
a particular study is problematic. Therefore, case study results are limited in
generalizability and cannot be inferred to the situations and persons beyond those
included in the study.
Sampling
Design requirements. When researchers want to draw inferences from a sample to
a population, the statistical model requires a random selection of participants (Shavelson,
1996). A random sample allows each member of the population an equal and independent
chance of being included in the sample. When the assumption of random selection is
satisfied, sample findings can be generalized to a known population (Shavelson).
Stratified random sampling is a sampling technique researchers use to achieve balanced
representation on a variable of interest when the researcher wants to be certain that
subgroups in the population are adequately represented (Gall et al., 1996). Since

86
socioeconomic status (SES) is a variable known to influence moral reasoning (e.g., Colby
& Kohlberg, 1987a; Hardman & Smith, 2001) and is also significantly related to EBD
(Hardman & Smith), I employed stratified random sampling techniques to equalize the
atypical and typical samples on the variable SES.
Sampling procedures. I initiated sampling procedures by submitting an
application to conduct research in 43 elementary schools and three special education
centers for students with severe emotional disturbance (SED) in two moderately sized,
rural school districts located in Central Florida. Only 19 of the 24 schools in district one
agreed to participate in the study, so the sample selected in district one represents a
subpopulation within that district. Every school in district two agreed to participate,
thereby increasing the external validity of these results.
The sample selection process was different for each district, so I describe the
selection process separately for each one. I selected 100 students from district one and 60
students from district two. I divided the sample in this way because district one was
larger and was able to provide a computer generated sample. The sample selection
process in district two had to be done by hand, requiring more time and effort.
School district one. I submitted an application to conduct research to the
principals of 23 elementary schools and one special day school for students with EBD.
Only 19 of the 24 applications were returned with 12 elementary schools and the school
for students with SED agreeing to participate and six elementary schools declining. To
stratify the sample on the variable SES, I requested a computer-generated list of all 3rd,
4th, and 5th grade students with EBD in participating schools who were not eligible for
free/reduced lunch. This request produced a list of 13 students, so I purposively selected

87
those 13 children and requested a computer-generated random selection of an additional
37 - 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with EBD, bringing the number of students in the
EBD sample to 50.1 then selected a random sample of 50 - 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students
from the general population in participating schools using a 13:37 ratio of free/reduced
lunch to lull pay students. As a result, sampling procedures in district one yielded a total
sample of 100 students selected from 12 elementary schools and one school for students
with EBD.
School district two. All 19 elementary schools and the 2 special day schools for
students with EBD agreed to participate in the study. I requested a list of student numbers
for all 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with EBD and their typical peers. Using a random
number table, I selected 30 - 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from the general education
population, observing that 11 were eligible for lfee/reduced lunch and 19 were full pay
students. To stratify the special education sample to match the general education sample
on SES, I separated the list of special education student numbers into two lists,
lfee/reduced lunch (94 students) and full pay (21 students). I, then, randomly selected 11
free/reduced lunch students and 19 full pay students to participate in the study. As a
result, sampling procedures in district two yielded a sample of 60 students representing
19 elementary schools and two special day schools for students with SED. Sampling
efforts in both districts yielded a final sample of 80 - 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with
EBD and 80 - 3rd, 4dl, and 5th grade typical peers (N = 160) selected from 31 elementary
schools and three special day schools for students with SED.
After completing the informed consent process, I purposively selected an
informant sample of 12 students from the participant sample that would represent an

88
equal distribution on the variables group, grade, and SES. I selected six students with
EBD and six typical peers. Each group, EBD and typical peers, included two students
from each grade (3rd, 4th, and 5th) and one student from each group and grade was chosen
from the free/reduced lunch participants and one student from each group and grade was
chosen from the full pay participants.
Setting and Participants
Setting
The present study was conducted in two moderately sized school districts
(approximately 30,000 students each) in rural, Central Florida. One district had 24
elementary schools and one school for students with serious emotional disturbance (SED)
and the other had 19 elementary schools and two schools for students with SED.
Participants
Teachers in both school districts sent home informed consent letters for all
students included in the random sample (N=l 60) and subsequently obtained consent from
the parent/guardians of 42 students with EBD and 40 typical peers. Each parent/guardian
received two letters, one giving permission to take the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) and the
Feelings Questionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984) and another giving permission for
participation in moral dilemma interviews. Every consenting parent, however, returned
both letters. Students in four elementary schools in district two failed to return any letters,
reducing the number of participating elementary schools to 27. Appendix A contains
copies of both informed consents.
Before data collection began, two participants with EBD and two typical peers
participants moved. One student with EBD refused to participate during data collection.

89
reducing the final participant sample to 77. Results of a one-sample chi-square test (a =
.05) indicated that the final participant sample (77) did not differ proportionately from the
random sample (160) on any of the demographic variables of interest; that is, grade,
ethnicity, SES, gender, or atypical/typical group.
Table 3.4 presents the results of a chi-square analysis of group differences
between the group of students with EBD (atypical group) (n = 39) and their typical peers
(n = 38) on each demographic variable of interest (i.e., gender, ethnicity, SES, or grade)
using a one-sample chi-square test. The results of the test were significant (a = .05) for
gender, %2 (1, N = 39) = 9.231, p_= .002, grade, %2 (2, N = 39) = 35.250, p_< .001, and
ethnicity x2 (1, N = 39) = 7.385, g = .007. Consistent with previous findings, the
participants with EBD included proportionately more minority students and males when
compared with typical peers. The significant result for grade indicated that the group of
students with EBD was older than the group of typical peers as measured by grade in
school. The chi square result for SES was non-significant, suggesting that the stratified
Table 3.4
One-Sample Chi-Square Test of Atypical Sample
df
x2
Significance
Gender
1
9.231
.002
Grade
2
35.250
<.001
Ethnicity
1
7.385
.007
SES
1
.506
.477
“a = .0

90
sampling procedure successfully controlled for this variable. Moreover, a
disproportionate number of participants, 67%, were from low SES families.
The 12 informants selected to participate in the moral dilemma interviews were
equally distributed between the two districts and were equally represented by group,
grade, and SES. Four of the informants were female and eight were male; two informants
were African American. Two informants were students with SED, including one
Caucasian full pay lunch status student and one African American free/reduced lunch
status student.
Instrumentation
Moral Theme Inventory fMTD
The purpose of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) is to assess students’ ability to
understand themes of cooperation in moral stories as the author intended or as they distort
them to match their developmental level of moral reasoning. The MTI is a 12-item test
given in two 50-minute sessions and is described in the pilot section of this chapter.
According to the MTI Guide (Narvaez & Bock, 2001), the MTI (Narvaez et al.) can be
modified by using any two of the four stories. Since the data gathering protocol for the
present study required the use of instruments in addition to those used in the pilot
resulting in an increased time commitment for participants, I reduced the length of the
MTI (Narvaez et al.) to two stories. This reduction meant that instead of committing
approximately two hours over 2 sessions, participants’ time commitment was reduced to
a one-hour session. A copy of the two-story form of the MTI (Narvaez et al.) used in the
present study is provided in Appendix B.

91
Reliability. For this administration of the MTI. I calculated a Cronbach alpha
reliability of .59 (N = 73) for the moral theme comprehension composite and .62 (N = 69)
for the reading comprehension composite. The scores of four participants were eliminated
from the moral theme comprehension composite alpha analysis and eight scores were
eliminated from the reading comprehension composite alpha analysis because of missing
data.
Crocker and Algina (1986) report three factors that affect reliability coefficients:
(a) group homogeneity; (b) time limit; and (c) test length. Two of these three factors,
homogeneity and test length, may have influenced estimates of internal consistency for
this administration of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999). According to Crocker and Algina,
the homogeneity of the examinee group is an important influence on estimates of a test’s
internal consistency. In the initial validation of the MTI. (Narvaez et al.), the participant
sample included 3rd graders, 5th graders, and university students which represents a
heterogeneous sample and would produce a wide range of score variance on a
developmental measure. As a result, Narvaez and colleagues reported an alpha reliability
of .89 for the moral theme comprehension composite and .81 for the reading
comprehension composite.
In contrast, the homogeneity may have compromised alpha estimates in the
present study because the age range was limited to students in the 3rd - 5th grades and the
participant sample included a disproportionate number of students from low SES families
(69%). Both factors, grade and SES, probably provided significant constraints to
estimates of internal consistency for both the moral theme comprehension composite and
the reading comprehension composite.

92
More importantly, however, Crocker and Algina (1986) state that test length is
one aspect of a test that is certain to affect true and observed score variance. For this
administration of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999), the number of items for the reading
comprehension composite and the moral theme comprehension composite were reduced
by half, perhaps contributing further to the magnitude of the reliability estimates for both
composites. According to Crocker and Algina, the effect of reducing test length on
coefficient alpha can be estimated using the Spearman Brown prophecy; therefore, I used
the pilot results to project coefficient alpha when the number of items is reduced by half
(k = .5, a = .74). Using the Spearman Brown prophecy, coefficient alpha for this
administration of the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) is projected at .60 for the moral theme
comprehension and .71 for reading comprehension. While the result for moral theme
comprehension is consistent with the Spearman Brown projection, alpha estimates for the
reading comprehension composite is somewhat lower. Perhaps this difference lends
additional evidence to the limits imposed by homogeneity when the sample includes a
large number of low SES students.
Moral Dilemma Interview
The interview protocol for the moral dilemma was the same as the one used in the
pilot study. I used three types of moral dilemmas: Kohlbergian (see Colby & Kohlberg,
1987); Piagetian (see Piaget, 1934/1965); and literature based using the characters and
setting found in the children’s book, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
The Boxcar Children is a story about the adventures of four children who have lost both
parents and are trying to live on their own. I discuss the rationale for using the interview
protocol in the pilot section and a copy of the protocol can be found in Appendix B.

93
Validity and reliability. The validity and reliability of moral dilemma interviews
was discussed in pilot section; however, some researchers reject traditional notions of
validity and reliability when employing case study research. According to Gall et al.
(1996), researchers may instead apply criteria such as plausibility, authenticity,
credibility, and relevance as evidence of validity and may employ triangulation to
provide evidence of validity. Triangulation is a process that employs multiple data-
collection methods, data sources, data analysts, or theories to check the validity of case
study findings. In the present study, I used (a) multiple data collection methods, (b)
multiple data sources, (c) multiple data analysts to check the reliability of the
interpretation, and (d) structural, domain, and constructivists theories to evaluate the best
fit with interview results.
When a researcher identifies certain patterns and themes in a data set, the
researcher may check the validity of these patterns and themes by asking another data
analyst (i.e., external auditor) to review the data independently and confirm or disconfirm
the interpretation. To evaluate the validity and reliability of my interpretation, I asked a
doctoral student in education to review the codes in seven interviews. The auditor
selected the interviews to examine and I provided one hour of training. Upon completion
of the training session, the auditor was then given a code book and asked to review every
code included in each of the seven interviews, marking a + for agree or a - for disagree. I
calculated reliability by dividing the number of agreements by the sum of disagreements
and agreements for the codes comprehension (1.00), issue choice (1.00), moral
judgement (.99), norms valued (.93), modal elements (.96), and value elements (.91).

94
Feelings Questionnaire
I used the 10-item trait anger scale of the PPS-2 to measure participants’ level of
trait anger. The trait anger scale of the PPS-2 is only one of several scales that make up
the Feelings Questionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984). The Feelings Questionnaire is
divided into three parts: (a) the Pediatric Anger Expression Scale (PAES); (b) the
Pediatric Personality Scale-1 (PPS-1). the Pediatric Personality Scale-2 (PPS-2). The
PAES is a 15-item trait anger measure that measures anger suppression, anger-out, and
anger-control. This self-report measure requires subjects to rate the frequency with which
they express their anger on a 3-pont scale: (a) hardly ever; (b) sometimes; and (c) often.
According to Jacobs, Phelps, & Rohrs (1989), the PPS-1 is a state measure that
measures anxiety and anger as emotional states by alternating items about feelings of
anxiety and anger on a single form. The PPS-1 requires respondents to rate 19 items (e.g.,
“I feel upset”, “I feel like banging on the table”) on a 3-point scale according to how they
feel “at this very moment”. In contrast, the PPS-2 is a trait measure that measures anxiety
and anger as personality traits. Respondents are asked to rate 20 items (e.g., “I worry too
much”, “I get angry quickly”) on a 3-point scale according to how they “usually feel”.
Jacobs et al. (1989) administered the Feelings Questionnaire to 284 fourth and
fifth grade children and reported the following results for the PAES. On the anger-
suppression subscale, which consists of five items (e.g. “I hold my anger in,” “I hide my
anger”), these authors reported item loadings ranging from .39 to .77, item-total
correlations ranging from .33 to .52, and a standardized alpha reliability coefficient of
.67. On the anger-out subscale, which also consists of five items (e.g, “I show my anger,”
“I do things like slam doors”), Jacobs et al. calculated factor loadings ranging from .64 to

95
.75, item-total correlations ranging from .47 to .56, and a standardized alpha reliability
coefficient of .74. Jacobs, et al. added five items to the PAES to assess anger-control
(e.g., “I try to calmly settle the problem,” “I keep my cool”) and reported factor loadings
ranging from .48 to .71, item-total correlations ranging from 0.29 to 0.50, and a
standardized alpha reliability coefficient of .63.
Jacobs et al. (1989) did not report alpha reliability for the state/trait anger and
anxiety scales of the PPS-1 and PPS-2. Moreover, the PPS-1 and PPS-2 are cited with
unpublished references and the discussion of the validity of these two measures is limited
to a describing the relationship of these scales with the PAES scales. These authors
reported that the PAES anger-out scale correlated positively with self-measures of
state/trait anxiety and anger on the PPS 1 and PPS 2 and with the Hunter-Wolf A-B
Rating Scale (HWAB, Hunter et al., 1982). The PAES anger-control scale correlated
negatively with PPS-1 and PPS-2 state/trait anxiety and anger, the HWAB Type A rating,
and the Matthews Youth Test for Health (MYTH. Matthews & Angulo, 1980), a teacher
rating of Type A characteristics. Anger-control scores were correlated negatively with
self-ratings of state anxiety, the HWAB Type A, and with teacher ratings of impatience.
Moreover, Jacobs, et al. (1989) reported that anger-suppression and anger-out scales of
the PAES appeared to be correlated, but independent factors. A copy of the Feelings
Questionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984) is provided in Appendix B.
Reliability. For the present study, participants were asked to respond to all three
parts of the Feelings Questionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984); however, only the trait
scale of the PPS-2 was used in the analyses. The scores generated by the PAES were not
judged as suitable for the present study because this scale consists of three subscales that

96
measure different kinds of trait anger (e.g., anger suppression, anger out, and anger
control), rendering the total scale score meaningless and the three subscale scores as
narrow representations of the trait anger construct. Therefore, the PPS-2 seemed to be the
strongest overall measure of trait anger. For this administration of the PPS-2.1 calculated
a Cronbach alpha reliability of .77 for the 10-item scale. In contrast, the results of an
alpha reliability analysis for the three scales of the PAES yielded the following results for
the 5-item anger out scale (a = .51), the 5-item anger control scale (a = .55), and the 5
item anger suppression scale (a = .25).
Research Procedures
Data Collection and Analysis
A research assistant and I administered the MTI (Narvaez et aL, 1999) and the
Feelings Questionnaire (Jacobs & Blumer, 1984) to all study participants attending the 27
elementary schools and three special day schools for students with SED at a time
arranged by school personnel. The entire test protocol for each measure was audiotaped
so no reading was required and students were able to complete both measures in
approximately one hour. At the end of the testing session, participants were given a small
thank you gift. If participants were absent on the day of data collection, another date was
arranged to collect data from these students. Data gathering procedures commenced on
March 21, 2001 and were completed by June 1.
My research assistant created an SPSS Base 10.0 file that included a list of
participant numbers and the corresponding extant data (i.e., atypical/typical group, SES,
gender, ethnicity, and grade). Group (atypical = 0, typical = 1), SES (low = 0, middle and
high = 1), gender (male = 0, female =1), and ethnicity (nonwhite = 0, white = 1). When

97
all data gathering activities we completed, I entered participants’ responses to the MTI
and Feelings Questionnaire into an SPSS Base 10.0 file for analysis. These data were
then submitted to an analysis of correlation coefficients using Pearson’s Product Moment
Correlation to evaluate the significance of the relationships among gender, grade,
atypical/typical group, ethnicity, SES, reading comprehension, trait anger, and moral
theme comprehension. I, then, entered all variables into a simultaneous multiple
regression analysis, thereby examining the effect of each variable on the dependent
measure while controlling for all other variables.
I interviewed each of the 12 informants three times at the participants’ schools
with each interview lasting approximately 30-45 minutes. The time and date for each
interview was arranged with the informant’s teacher. In the event of absences, interview
appointments were rescheduled. As a result, I conducted a total of 36 interviews (12
students x 3 interviews). Upon the completion of Interview III, I gave each participant a
copy The Boxcar Children (Warner, 1977). Interviewing began on March 27, 2001 and
was completed on May 24.
After listening to each dilemma, I asked informants to make a choice as to which
issue should take priority and then to support their issue choices in the form of moral
judgements (see the script for the moral dilemma interview in Appendix B). Moral
judgements were then coded using the analysis procedures described in the pilot section.
All interviews were audiotaped and a student assistant transcribed them into a word
processing file. I, subsequently, entered all transcribed interviews into The Ethnogranh
(v5.Q), which yielded 547 pages of interview protocol that included 150 issue choices and
2,139 moral judgements to submit to further analysis. I assigned code names to each

98
informant using the following criteria: 3rd graders were given name beginning with the
letter A; 4th graders the letter B; and 5lh graders the letter C.

CHAPTER IV
RESULTS
I designed the present study to explore the relationships among moral reasoning,
trait anger, and EBD by targeting the development of moral reasoning in elementary
students with EBD. Specifically, I collected and analyzed data to address the following
research hypothesis: When accounting for gender, ethnicity, reading comprehension,
SES, atypical/typical group, trait anger, and grade, there will be a significant positive
relationship between reading comprehension and moral theme comprehension and a
significant negative relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension. I
integrated quantitative and qualitative research methods to address the hypothesis,
employing causal comparative research to determine difference in moral reasoning
between students with EBD and their typical peers and to explore the relationships
among EBD, trait anger, ethnicity, SES, gender, reading comprehension, the grade and
moral theme comprehension. I used case study research to support these findings in a
purposively selected sample and to provide a rich description of the moral reasoning
processes voiced by students with EBD and their typical peers. Therefore, I present the
findings in two sections: (a) causal comparative results and (b) case study results.
Causal Comparative Results
The objectives of the causal comparative analyses were twofold. First, I wanted to
determine difference in moral reasoning between students with EBD and their typical
peers and to assess the relationships among seven variables (atypical/typical group,
gender, grade, ethnicity, trait anger, reading comprehension, and grade) and moral theme
99

100
comprehension using the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) as the dependent measure.
Secondly, I wanted to determine which of the seven variables would maintain a
significant relationship to moral theme comprehension when accounting for all other
variables. The purpose of the MTI fNarvaez et al.) is to assess students’ ability to
understand the themes of cooperation in moral stories as the author intended or as they
distort them to match their developmental level of moral reasoning. Table 4.1 presents
the means and standard deviation by group and grade for the moral theme comprehension
composite the MTI (Narvaez et al.).
Table 4.1
Means and Standard Deviations By Group and Grade
Grade
n
M
SD
n
M
SD
Tvrtical
Atvoical
3rd
15
30.20
21.11
5
30.00
15.26
4th
16
34.75
15.32
11
23.45
16.98
5th
6
34.33
25.91
20
26.55
18.31
Total
37
32.82
19.21
36
26.08
17.19
Note: Dependent variable = moral theme composite score
Bivariate Correlations
To accomplish the first objective, I computed the correlation coefficients among
the seven variables and moral theme comprehension using a Pearson product-moment
correlation. The results of these analyses are presented in Table 4.2 and show that four of
the seven variables, SES (r = 205, p = .041), ethnicity (r = .386, p <.001), trait anger

101
(r = -.29, p = .008), and reading comprehension (r = 37, p = .001), were significantly
related to the moral theme comprehension. As expected the relationship between moral
theme comprehension and trait anger was negative and the relationship between moral
theme comprehension and reading comprehension was positive. Moreover, the
relationship between SES and ethnicity was significant (r = .49, p < .001), indicating that
a disproportionate number of African American participants were from low SES families.
Table 4.2
(MTC)
Variable
group
SES
gender
grade
ethnicity
reading
comp.
trait
anger
MTC
.184
.205*
-.133
-.041
.386**
.374**
-.285**
group
-.047
.255*
-.375**
.198*
.221*
-.068
SES
-.083
.029
.485**
.388**
.010
gender
-.153
-.004
-.027
.027
grade
-.096
-.077
.123
ethnicity
.443**
-.135
reading
-.191
comp.
Note, group (0 = atypical, 1 = typical), SES (0 = low income, 1 = middle/high income),
gender (0 = male, 1 = female), ethnicity (0 = nonwhite, 1 = white).
‘Correlation is significant at the .05 level (1 tailed).
“Correlation is significant at the .01 level (1 tailed)
The correlation coefficient for atypical/typical group and moral theme
comprehension was not significant. Nevertheless, EBD was significantly related to three

102
of the four variables found to be related to moral theme comprehension, ethnicity (r =
.20, p = .04), reading comprehension (r = .22, p = .03), and SES (see sampling
procedures). Therefore, the non-significant finding for the relationship between EBD and
moral theme comprehension should be viewed with caution because the typical group
included an overrepresentation of students from low SES families and a disproportionate
number of younger students, perhaps altering the range and variability of their scores. In
addition, these data indicate that EBD, reading comprehension, and ethnicity were
confounded. Finally, an analysis of the relationships among trait anger and all other
independent variables yielded a non-significant finding in every case. Contrary to
expectations, the relationship between trait anger and EBD was not significant.
The non-significant finding for the relationship between grade and moral theme
comprehension reported in the pilot was replicated in these results. One plausible
interpretation of these results is that the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) may not be sensitive
enough to detect developmental change when the range is limited to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th
grades. Moreover, score range and variability may have been limited further in the
present study because the distribution of students by grade for each group was
disproportionate.
Simultaneous Multiple Regression
The second objective of the causal comparative analyses was to determine which
of the seven variables would retain a significant relationship with moral theme
comprehension after accounting for all other independent variables. Therefore, I
conducted a simultaneous multiple regression analysis of the seven variables (i.e.,
atypical/typical group, gender, ethnicity, reading comprehension, SES, grade, and trait

103
anger) on moral theme comprehension. As presented in Table 4.3, these results indicate
that the linear combination of these seven variables was significantly related to the moral
theme comprehension, F (7,64) = 3.665, p = .002. The sample multiple correlation
coefficient was .54, suggesting that approximately 21% (adjusted R squared) of the score
variance in the moral theme comprehension could be accounted for by the linear
combination of these seven independent variables. Results show that only the coefficient
for trait anger (B = -.896, p = .05) was significant when all variables were entered into
the model. Contrary to expectations, the coefficient for reading comprehension was not
significant when controlling for all other variables.
Table 4.3
Simultaneous Multiple Regression Analysis of Seven Independent Variables
Variable
B
SEB
P
Significance3
atypical/typical group
4.661
4.518
.127
.306
SES
.807
5.230
.020
.878
reading comp
1.582
.859
.229
.070
grade
2.045
2.727
.088
.456
gender
-6.220
4.139
-.164
.138
ethnicity
8.189
4.953
.222
.103
trait anger
-.896
.437
-.224
.045*
?ct =.05
Case Study Results
The causal comparative results show that the relationships among moral
reasoning, trait anger, and EBD is complex and that trait anger is the only significant

104
predictor of moral theme comprehension when accounting for all seven independent
variables. These results, however, are lacking in depth and richness, because they do not
describe participants’ thinking processes beyond assessing their ability to understand
themes of cooperation in moral stories. Therefore, to seek additional support for the
patterns quantitatively described and to elaborate the moral reasoning processes of study
participants, I presented eight moral dilemmas to six students with EBD and six typical
peers and analyzed their verbal responses to moral problems. To facilitate the
presentation of the results, grade levels are coded into the first letter of informants’
assigned names: Allison; Albert, *Alex, and * Allen are 3rd graders; *Brian, Betty,
*Bonnie, and Barbie are 4th graders; Chris, *Cory, * Carey, and Carl are 5th graders.
Informants with EBD are marked with an asterisk (*).
I initiated the interpretive process by first evaluating informants’ comprehension
of the dilemmas. Immediately following the telling of each dilemma, I routinely asked
the informants’ a few comprehension questions to generate data about their basic
understanding of the facts and issues presented in the dilemmas. Whenever informants
responded to these questions with confusion about any pertinent issues or facts, I
reviewed the story and continued asking comprehension questions until the child
demonstrated an adequate understanding. When the informant and I were both
comfortable with the level of comprehension, I then proceeded with questions designed
to probe the informants’ reasoning processes. Thus, the first interpretive task was to
examine all the data coded comprehension to evaluate informants’ understanding of the
dilemmas. Perusal of these data indicated that all informants were able to express an
adequate understanding of the issues and facts presented; therefore, I proceeded with an

105
analysis of informants' reasoning processes by segmenting their responses into two broad
categories, issue choice (IC) and moral judgement (MJ).
Issue Choice IIP
The purpose of all eight dilemmas was to present the informant with a conflict
between two moral issues. After listening to a dilemma and reviewing the basic issues
and facts presented, I asked each informant to choose the issue that should take priority.
Informants usually made clear issue choices following the comprehension probes;
however, occasionally they had to work through their justifications for each choice before
making a decision. On three occasions, informants were not able to make a decision, even
after verbalizing their justifications for both choices. Table 4.4 lists the issue choices
presented in the dilemmas and the frequency with which each issue was chosen.
As expected, all informants generally favored choices obligated by external
authorities, such as authority, law, and punishment, and infrequently choose internal
sources of obligation (e.g., contract, conscience, life). I found exceptions to this pattern in
an emerging tendency to choose affiliation (i.e., maintaining relationships) and fairness
(i.e., equality/equity) when internal sources of obligations were placed in direct conflict
with externally imposed obligations. For example, when confronted with a conflict
between law and affiliation in the Boxcar Children dilemma. ’Bonnie stated that
breaking the law is always wrong, but “[Do you think the children should run away?]
Yes. [Why?] So they don't take Benny to the Children's home and make the others work.”
This inconsistency in reasoning seems to suggest that in the experiences of elementary-
aged children, the opportunity to participate in mutually respecting relationships may
provide an important catalyst for increasing their understanding of

106
Table 4.4
Summary of Issue Choice Bv Group
Issue Choice
Typical
Atypical
Total
Authority (4)
18
15
33
Law (3)
12
11
23
Affiliation (4)
11
12
23
Punishment (3)
11
11
22
Conscience (3)
4
8
12
Life (2)
6
4
10
Equality (1)
3
6
9
Fairness (1)
4
3
7
Contract (2)
1
4
5
Equity (1)
3
0
3
No Decision
2
1
3
Note. The numbers in parentheses represent the number of times the issue was presented,
themselves as agents of moral authority. *Cory’s need to maintain relationships were so
strong that he contradicted a previous decision to favor the life issue in Interview I by
choosing affiliation over life in Interview III. “[Do you think they take Violet to the
doctor?] Um, no. [Why not?] Because they don't want to be with their grandfather.”
On a few occasions, informants had difficulty deciding which issue to favor. In
these instances, I probed their reasoning by asking for their justifications for both sides.
Following this examination, I asked, once again, for an issue choice. If the informant still

107
professed that both choices were equally acceptable, I coded it as a no decision. For
example, *Brian decided, “[Which of the two boys didn't take his father’s papers again?]
Both. [Ah, you think both would work equally as well?] Yeah.” A no decision is
theoretically relevant because it provides an early indication that egocentric reasoning
patterns may motivate these informants’ thinking.
Moral Judgement IMP
The next interpretive task was to examine informants’ justifications for their issue
choices as expressed in their moral judgements. A segment of text was coded as a moral
judgement ( MJ) when the justification was prescriptive (i.e., included words like
“should” and “ought”), the informant identified a valued norm, and a moral element that
provided a reason for valuing the norm. Over the course of 36 interviews, informants
emitted 2,139 MJs that were further analyzed by identifying the valued norms and moral
elements informants’ voiced to justify their reasoning.
Valued norms. The norm represents the moral value(s) or object(s) of concern that
are being brought to bear by the informant in justifying the issue choice. Thus, the norms
informants valued in supporting their issue choice could include norms other than those
presented in the issue choice. For example, in “Heinz’s Dilemma”, informants could
justify the IC law by valuing the norms property, law, affiliation, and/or conscience. In
this dilemma, * Allen valued the norm property, or the rights of ownership, to justify his
choice saying,
[Why is it wrong to steal?] Because the people work. They spent their life
on that one thing and it’s wrong to steal because that’s taking their life. It
is just like taking their life away.
In contrast, Carl supports the same issue choice citing the law norm.

108
[Do you think he should steal the drug?] No. [Why?] Well, because
stealing is wrong, even though that man’s doing something wrong by
charging it, like so much, even though it’s a little amount, you know. Still,
stealing is more wrong than [dying], I mean, and more than being greedy.
Because informants might select from a variety of norms to support their choices,
I frequently probed their reasoning on norms not favored. These probes generated
additional information about the informants’ reasoning processes and the consistency of
their reasoning across issues. As a result, I witnessed the knowledge making process as it
unfolded, sometimes resulting in a change of mind and sometimes not. For example,
Betty responded that punishment was necessary, “So [children] can learn,” but also
reasoned that a parent might explain instead of punish, “To not be hurting them”.
Although she held fast to her decision that the boy who was punished would not take his
father’s papers again, she also stated that if she were the father, she would not punish the
child because it might hurt him. Tables 4.5 and 4.6 present a summary of the norms
valued by interview for each group.
These data indicate that the most frequently valued norms were authority, law,
and punishment, all external sources of obligation. Similar to the result of the issue
choice analysis, these data also point to an emerging preference for the norm affiliation as
a possible gateway into autonomously driven moral decision-making. At times, all
informants’ defected from a pattern of favoring external choices of obligation and
favored affiliation instead. Most of these defections occurred during Interview III, where
issues of affiliation, law, and authority were placed in direct conflict. When presented
with these choices, informants tended to abandon previously stated preferences for law
and authority and chose instead to value the norm affiliation.

109
Table 4.5
Summary of Norms Valued Bv Interview for Typical Peers
Norm
Interview I
Interview II
Interview III
Total
authority
102
119
31
252
law
114
4
7
125
affiliation
10
9
80
99
punishment
46
52
0
98
conscience
8
38
0
46
life
11
0
29
40
property
23
0
0
23
fairness
0
22
0
22
equality
0
14
0
14
equity
0
13
0
13
contract
0
4
0
4

no
Table 4.6
Summary of Norms Valued Bv Interview for Students with EBP
Norm
Interview I
Interview II
Interview III
Total
authority
73
94
37
204
law
117
0
14
131
punishment
39
86
0
125
affiliation
23
3
85
111
contract
30
17
0
47
property
46
0
0
46
conscience
17
28
0
45
life
16
0
13
29
equality
0
24
0
24
fairness
0
14
0
14
equity
0
0
0
0
Moral Elements. For a segment of text to qualify as a complete MJ, the informant
must voice a reason for endowing a norm with value. This component of an MJ is called
the moral element and may be classified as either a modal or value element. A model
element expresses the mood or modality of the moral language and includes words such
as should, must, deserves, and has a right and may or may not be followed by a value
element. When informants consistently omit the value element from their MJs, it signals
that the informant was speaking from a normative order orientation in which maintaining
the norm is an end in itself.

Ill
In the present study, informants justified preferred and non-preferred norms using
five different modal elements: obev/consult. blame/approve, retribute/exonerate, have a
right, and have a duty. For example, when asked what good will a whipping do for a
disobedient son, *Alex replied, “Teach [the foolish son] a lesson,” citing the modal
element obev/consult to justify his preference for punishment. Chris used the same modal
element to justify the law norm answering, “[Why do you think there is a law against
stealing?] Because it’s probably different from borrowing?” In both examples, the
informant is indicating that one must consult with or obey an externally imposed
authority to make moral decisions.
The modal element blame/approve was coded when informants’ merely evaluated
a norm as right or wrong. For example, when Barbie heard that Heinz was thinking about
stealing the medicine, she immediately responded, “Um, I think it's wrong.” Carl used a
similar justification when reasoning about obeying adults who may be strangers.
[Is it always right to keep information from strange adults?] Uh, I would
say, I would say um, it’s a no. It’s not always right, but then I don’t know
why.
In this example, Carl explained that, in certain cases, it is right to give information to
strangers, but he does not know why. He clearly offered no value element to support his
MJ.
When informants’ judgements expressed a need for pay back or vindication, the
mood represented a mandate to retribute/exonerate. For example, informants believed
that it is not fair for a mother to punish her children when there is a question of guilt. On
the other hand, none believed that it would be right to allow perpetrators to go
unpunished to avoid punishing an innocent person. In this regard, Betty expressed the

112
need for retribution and exoneration advising that the mother, “Pick up fingerprints,” and
*Carey stated that, “[She] should put a camera right there, near her scissors. [Then she
can] see who messed with them.” The guilty must be identified and punished and the
innocent must be exonerated.
Occasionally, informants justified norms claiming a right or duty. For example,
some informants valued property rights stating that individuals have a right to do
whatever they want with their property.
Allison: But I think she [a daughter] should spend it on whatever she
wants because she, she was the one who earned it and she was the one
who put on a goal.
In this example, however, Allison was justifying a norm not favored. Ultimately,
she delegated to the mother the moral authority to make decisions about the
disposition of her daughter’s property because mothers have a responsibility or
duty to “like not have their child a liar and a cheater when they grow up.”
In contrast to modal elements, value elements represent ultimate ends and/or
values and provide the terminal value of an MJ. In the present study, I identified six
categories that appear to encompass the terminal values voiced in informants MJs:
avoiding punishment/seeking reward:
Albert: [What’s the good of spanking?] That would teach them a lesson
about being punished and all that, and they would probably never steal
again. Like, I got spanked once for that eraser.
good/bad egocentric consequences:
*Alex: [Why do you think the one that was punished did not take the pen
back?] Because he wanted the pen and so his father wouldn’t know that he
found it, but he did.

113
good/bad consequences for others.
Barbie: [Why is it important to keep your promises?] When somebody
say[s] they promise something you shouldn't like depend on the promise
but it's important that somebody keep[s] their promise . .. Sometimes you
can hurt people's feelings when you don't keep your promises.
balancing perspectives/role taking:
* Allen: [Why is it important not to hurt people?] Because I guess it’s
because you wouldn't want that happening to yourself and if everybody
hurt everybody it wouldn't be it wouldn't be that good of a place.
equalitv/equitv:
Betty: [Why is that bad? To take something that isn't yours?] Because.
[Look at the druggist, I mean he had other medicine.] Because you didn't
pay for it and maybe somebody else did.
and serving an ideal or social harmony.
Allison: [What, where do you think law came from?] I think it came from
somebody who had something that was stolen from them and something
really bad happened to em like someone stole money and then one of their
children died because they didn't have enough food. So he talked to the
police about it and they made a law that you can't steal.
Interpreting the use of value elements in informants’ MJs provided the most
valuable clues about informants’ motivations when making moral decisions. Because a
moral dilemma provides only a conflict in values where there is no clear choice of right
or wrong, statements about issue choices and valued norms cannot provide sufficient
evidence about an individual’s motivation. Therefore, the task of interpreting how an
informant used value elements to justify their reasoning became a critical factor in
determining moral orientation. Table 4.7 lists a summary by group of the modal and
value elements found within informants’ moral judgments.

114
Table 4.7
By Group Summary of Moral Elements and Value Elements
Students with EBD
Typical Peers
Modal Elements
obey/consult
434
563
blame/approve
515
430
retribute/exonerate
75
46
have a right
11
11
have a duty
3
19
Value Elements
punishment/reward
125
72
egoistic concerns
170
129
consequences to others
64
132
equality/equity
23
51
perspective taking
7
5
social order
10
18
Moral Orientation
Preconventional level. At times, all informants used only normative order or
modal elements as the terminal value in a moral judgment; however, when informants
consistently failed to provide a terminal value in the form of a value element, it usually
indicated a Punishment/Obedience Orientation. For example, when asked why it’s wrong

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to steal, Chris responded, “Because it’s not right to steal.” When pressed further he
simply replied, “Because,” indicating that, in his way of thinking, maintaining the norm
is an end unto itself. After evaluating Chris’ response patterns, I found that he included a
value element in only 15 of his 135 MJs. In comparison, Carl included value elements in
of 104 of his 162 MJs.
When informants who express a Punishment/Obedience Orientation do supply a
value element, it typically represents an intention to avoid certain punishment or to seek a
reward (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987). For example, Chris reasoned that a scout should obey
his scoutmaster even when the request is not fair because the scoutmaster might make
him “do all the chores,” if he does not comply. To justify a son’s obedience to his father,
Chris stated that
[Would it be right for the good brother to tell the father its not my business
what my brother does. Ask him yourself.] No. [Why] Mmmm, because, if
he, he told the good boy to tell him what the other boy did and if he said
that, he’d probably get punished.
Note, however, that Chris cited punishment as a probability, but not a certainty in both
examples. Typically, individuals who reason using a Punishment/Obedience Orientation
state punishment as a certainty (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987). Therefore, Chris’ tendency to
qualify the certainty of punishment may be interpreted as a move toward a Personal
Reward Orientation. Nevertheless, his inability to supply value elements when making
moral judgments provided strong evidence that this change in orientation was not yet
consummated.
Individuals motivated by a Personal Reward Orientation consistently state the
threat of punishment and the possibility of reward as a probability, something that might
happen (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987). For example, in responding to questions about the

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imprudence of stealing, *AIIen stated “No, he shouldn’t [steal] because stealing is bad
and even if he did steal it he would probably go to jail.” Similarly, *Cory cited seeking a
reward as a probability when justifying his preference for the norm life saying, “Because
if he steal[s] it, um, for his wife ... he might get an award.” Thus, one takes chances
when defying authority.
In addition to avoiding punishment or seeking reward, other egocentric concerns
pervaded the reasoning processes of informants who voiced a Personal Reward
Orientation. For example,
Betty: [Why is it bad to be a tattletale?] Because people think [pause], like
people won’t be your friends and stuff. They’ll say you’re a tattletale and
stuff.
*A!len: [Tell me about what you can keep to yourself and why that’s
important for a child.] Well I should keep my age and phone number and
all that together so I won’t, so I can’t tell anybody that 1 don’t know so. So
they can’t come to my house and hurt me really bad.
Individuals’ judgements of value become singularly focused on the consequences
to self even though they may appear to consider the perspective of another.
*Cory: [Should the judge give Heinz a sentence or let Heinz go free?] Let
Heinz go free. [Why?] Because he was trying to help somebody. If the
judge got sick, he would want somebody to help him.
In this example, *Cory appeared to be engaging in perspective taking, but in actuality, he
was merely projecting his own egoistic needs to another party.
[Should people who break the law be punished?] Um if they ain’t doing no
good. If they’re just breaking the law for fun, yes. Yes they should be
punished.
According to *Cory, “doing good” could include stealing to save the life
of a pet or the life of a stranger, if it meant one might be rewarded for one’s
actions. His judgements about an actor’s good or bad intentions were consistently

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predicated on egocentric consequences. If a decision would benefit the actor, the
act was good and others should judge it as good, as well. If the decision would not
benefit the actor the act was had and others should also judge the act as bad. He
was loath to define good intentions in terms of their effects on others, only
providing justifications in terms of reward for the actor. For example, a daughter
should obey her mother, “Because . .. your mother buy[s] you food .. .
Sometimes she buy[s] you new clothes and new shoes, and a car, and chocolates,”
but a daughter does not have to obey if “the mama don’t like her, uh uh [no].”
When children reason using a Personal Reward Orientation, every moral situation
becomes conditional and the obligatory is relative to selfish needs and concerns.
Instrumental morality provides the order for moral judgement.
Conventional level. Only one informant, Allison, expressed a perspective
representative of a Good Bov/Nice Girl Orientation, as indicated by her ability to
incorporate a concern for others into her moral judgements. While informants who
expressed Punishment/Obedience and Personal Reward Orientations occasionally
invoked a concern for others, Allison’s concern for others became more than an
occasional reference point. Allison invoked a concern for others as the value element 58
of her MJs, whereas the other 3rd graders held this value with far less frequency (Albert =
20 times, *Alex = 1 time, * Allen = 17 times).
Although Allison frequently expressed a need to meet her egocentric needs, her
moral compass appeared to be based on a genuine concern for others. For example, she
explained that a mother should be concerned about breaking promises to her daughter
saying.

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Researcher: In general, what should be the authority of the mother over
the daughter. We talked about this just a little bit. [You told me] you don’t
think that a mother should make a deal with her child and then break it,
but you think the mother thinks [breaking a promise if she has to] is ok,
right?
Allison: I think the mother thinks that that’s all right but if she thought it
through, I think that she wouldn’t like doing it because she loved her
daughter and she doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her.
Allison reasoned that the daughter would be so upset about a broken promise that
she might do something foolishly disobedient. She argued that, although a mother has the
right to break a promise, she should be aware that her child might suffer the
consequences of that decision. This response also provided an example of another
pervasive element in Allison’s reasoning, a belief that moral authority granted to external
sources (i.e., authority, law, punishment) should be tempered by mutual respect. In this
regard, Allison became a champion of equality, maintaining that rules should be equally
applied regardless of power or allegiances. Officer Brown should report Heinz even if
they are good friends and he knows Heinz’s predicament. She explained, “Because he is
just a normal citizen. He is not no more special than anybody else. So he should pay his
price for [stealing].” She added, however,
Even though he’s his friend, it’s his duty to arrest anybody that does
something wrong because if that happens and he doesn’t go to jail, then he
might do it again and again and again. And then something might happen
that’s even worse than just going to jail.
In this example, she justified her moral decision by valuing the norms of affiliation and
law compelled by a sense of duty to apply justice equally. In the final analysis, however,
she judged Officer Brown’s morality by the level of consideration he gives to Heinz’s
well being and safety.

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Carl was the only informant to express a Law and Order Orientation, which
differs from a Good Boy/Nice Girl Orientation only with respect to perspective. For
example, Carl stated that equal treatment defines the moral because it necessitates care
for others by imposing social order. In the following example, he reasoned that two boys
should share, half-and-half, one lunch because equal treatment is the best method for
insuring social harmony.
Yes, because um, because it wouldn’t cause fights ... If they decided to
flip a coin for it, then it just might cause fights, you know. And the little
one might.. .start like saying, “That wasn’t fair,” you know. Even though
he agreed to [it].. .Or the big boy might think the same thing ... saying,
“Hey, that wasn’t fair.” Even though he agreed, you know. It would just
cause fights, you know. And you should just split it down the middle.
Whereas Allison’s reasoning usually focused on moral obligations as determined
by mutual interpersonal expectations, relationships, and interpersonal conformity, Carl’s
moral judgments tended to express care for others from a broader societal perspective.
Carl: [Whose business is it if children run away?] Well... the USA really
doesn’t want people to be poor. There’s already enough poor people like
in New York, you know, that just, that beg for stuff or anything, you know
... Just live out like in trees and have to beg for places to sleep, you
know. These things, it’s just not right.
Table 4.8 provides a list of informants, their demographics, and an evaluation of
their moral orientation based on the themes and patterns identified in their moral
judgements. This interpretation of informants’ moral orientation suggests that the entire
sample of students with EBD and many of their typical peers exhibited preconventional,
egocentrically motivated reasoning patterns. Two typical peers, Allison and Carl, voiced
conventional, other-focused reasoning patterns. These results seem to call in to question
the sufficiency of the developmental process alone to direct the development of

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children’s morality. Experience appears to play an important, if not defining role, in the
development of children’s morality.
Table 4.8
Moral Orientation Bv Group
Name
Grade
SES
Gender
Ethnicity
Moral Orientation
Atypical
Allen
3
Full pay
M
W
Personal Reward
Alex
3
Free/reduced
M
W
Personal Reward
Brian
4
Full pay
M
W
Personal Reward
Bonnie
4
Free/reduced
F
W
Personal Reward
Carey
5
Full pay
M
W
Personal Reward
Cory
5
Free/reduced
M
B
Personal Reward
Typical Peers
Allison
3
Full pay
F
W
Good Boy/Nice Girl
Albert
3
Free/reduced
M
W
Personal Reward
Betty
4
Full pay
F
W
Personal Reward
Barbie
4
Free/reduced
F
B
Personal Reward
Carl
5
Full pay
M
W
Law and Order
Chris
5
Free/reduced
M
w
Punishment/Obedience
Note. SES is based on lunch status.
Summary of the Results
Analyses of participants’ responses to the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) moral theme
comprehension tasks and moral dilemma interviews show that the moral orientation of

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students with EBD and many of their typical peers may be limited with respect to then-
ability to understand moral themes of cooperation. The causal comparative results
indicated that SES, reading comprehension, ethnicity, and trait anger were significantly
related to moral theme comprehension and that African American students, males, and
children with low SES were disproportionately represented in the population of students
with EBD. In addition, ethnicity was confounded with SES. The relationship between
trait anger and EBD was not significant. In fact, trait anger was not significantly related
to any variables other than moral theme comprehension and perhaps reading
comprehension. On the other hand, trait anger proved to be the only significant predictor
of moral theme comprehension when accounting for all independent variables (i.e.,
atypical/typical group, SES, reading comprehension, gender, ethnicity, and grade).
The significance of the developmental differences between students with EBD
and their typical peers could not be determined with these data because of the
disproportionate number of students from each group representing the 3rd, 4th, and 5th
grades. Third and fourth graders dominated the typical group, but fourth and fifth graders
dominated the atypical group.
Case study results indicated that informants were similar with respect to the value
they placed on norms that demand obedience from external authority sources, such as
authority figures, rules and laws, and punishment. Moreover, informants seemed to
exhibit an emerging preference for the norm affiliation, which represents an internally
imposed moral obligation. The defining difference in informants reasoning patterns,
however, was found in their ability to understand the needs of others and to use this
information to make moral judgements. The reasoning of informants with EBD and many

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of their typical peers appeared to be preconventional and self-focused, but the reasoning
of two typical peers, one 3rd grader and one 5th grader, appeared to be conventional and
other-focused. These results seem to call into question the sufficiency of the
developmental process to direct the development of children’s moral orientation.
Experience appears to play an important, if not defining role, in the development of
children’s morality.

CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION
The purpose of the present study was to employ a cognitive developmental
approach to examine EBD from a previously unexplored perspective. This approach
permits the study of EBD as a complex relationship among cognition, emotion, and
behavior in ways that can extend current knowledge and broaden the conceptual
foundations of special education. From this perspective, I examined the moral reasoning
processes of students with EBD as an expression of a lived reality, couched in the
maturational process (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a; Dewey, 1916/1944; Piaget, 1932/1965).
Thus, a child with EBD is viewed as an active participant in the creation of a lived reality
whose dimensions are related in the child’s verbal reasoning.
Previously, researchers have investigated effective responses to the maladaptive
behavior of students with EBD using behavior analytic and cognitive-behavioral
approaches that emphasize the principles of conditioning and learning to foster the
development of prosocial behavior. In contrast, Piaget (1932/1965) argued that a child’s
actions do not reveal the child’s motivations. To understand motivations, researchers
must move beyond merely observing how precise the child is in respecting rules and
examine the child’s reasoning. The way children think and feel about their behavior is as
much a part of social behavior as is the most overt cooperative or hostile act (Dewey,
1916/1944). Piaget suggested that difficult children supply the richest material for
analysis; yet, only two studies (Astor, 1994; Astor & Behre, 1997) have been published
that examine the reasoning processes of elementary children with EBD. As a result, the
123

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relationship between reasoning and behavior continues to be mysterious (Colby &
Kohlberg, 1987a).
Overview of the Study
The present study was designed to employ a cognitive developmental approach to
examine the relationships among moral reasoning, trait anger, and EBD. I included
elementary aged students because the number of students with EBD seems to increase
rapidly during the elementary years (OSEP, 1998), 3rd - 5th grade present the best
opportunity for intervention (e.g., Walker et al., 1995), and mid to late elementary years
provide a context for rapid growth in the development of moral judgement (Piaget,
1932/1965). Because the population of students with EBD is characterized by a
disproportionate number of African American males and students with low SES
(Kauffman, 1995), I included gender, SES, and ethnicity in my analyses. I also included
reading comprehension as a cognitive variable, trait anger as an emotional variable, and
the student’s grade in school to gauge developmental change.
I used an ex post facto criterion group design to explore the relationship between
EBD and moral reasoning in typical and atypical samples and case study research
methods to add depth and richness to the quantitative results. The sample for the causal
comparative research was randomly selected (N = 77) and stratified on the variable SES.
The informant sample (N = 12) for the case study research was purposively sampled from
the participant sample.
Using quantitative analyses, I identified significant relationships among all
variables of interest (i.e., moral theme comprehension, atypical/typical group, grade,
SES, gender, ethnicity, trait anger, and reading comprehension), followed by a

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simultaneous multiple regression analysis to identify predictor variable(s). 1 coded
informants’ responses to moral dilemma interviews by identifying issue choices and
moral judgments. I also identified the norms and moral elements embedded in the moral
judgements, seeking a window into informants’ basic motives, feelings, and desires.
Summary of the Findings
Analyses of participants’ responses to the moral theme comprehension tasks of
the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) indicated that SES, reading comprehension, ethnicity, and
trait anger were significantly related to moral theme comprehension. The relationship
between EBD and moral theme comprehension was not significant, but results show that
African American students, males, and students with low SES were disproportionately
represented in the population of students with EBD. Moreover, ethnicity was confounded
with SES. Trait anger was not related to any of the other independent variables, but the
results of the simultaneous multiple regression showed that trait anger was the only
significant predictor of moral theme comprehension when accounting for all independent
variables (i.e., atypical/typical group, SES, reading comprehension, gender, ethnicity, and
grade).
Case study results indicated that the reasoning of informants with EBD and many
of their typical peers with low SES appeared to be self-focused. In contrast, the reasoning
of two typical peers from middle income families, one 3rd grader and one 5th grader,
appeared to be other-focused. The results of quantitative and qualitative analyses seem to
question the sufficiency of the developmental process to direct the development of
children’s morality, and suggest that experience may play an influential, if not defining
role in the development of children’s morality.

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Discussion
The purpose of ray study was to employ a cognitive-developmental approach to
examine the relationships among moral reasoning (cognition), trait anger (emotion), and
behavior in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with EBD and their typical peers. If taken at
face value, the results present an unfocused, seemingly meaningless picture of this
relationship, but if one examines the picture with the aid of a theoretical lens, the image
sharpens and the meaning of the results becomes more visible.
Previous theory building efforts have been two pronged. While structural theorists
have argued for (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones & Gall, 1995) and against (e.g., Laupa &
Turiel, 1995) the development of moral judgement as a maturational process, social
constructivist have taken an experiential, or cultural perspective to describe the
development of morality (e.g., Brown et al.,1995; Shweder et al., 1987). Piaget
(1932/1965), however, portrayed the development of morality as dependent on both
maturation and experience. He found that while the development of perspective taking
seemed to be somewhat dependent upon the maturational process, it also functioned as an
important catalyst in the development of morality by opening the door to cooperative
relationships based on solidarity with peers and mutual respect with adult authority. In
this way, Piaget seemed to offer experience, not the developmental process, as the central
component in the development of moral judgment.
Indeed, the results of the present study seem to question the sufficiency of the
developmental process to explain differences in children’s reasoning processes. For
example, causal comparative analyses did not result in the finding of a developmental
effect and case study results identified numerous examples of cases in which moral

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reasoning was not motivated by themes of cooperation. According to these results,
experience, not maturation, appears to play a more influential, if not a defining role, in
the development of children’s moral judgement. Children’s experiences, however, are not
easily measured. Nevertheless, by integrating causal comparative and case study results, I
gained insight into some of the experiences that shaped participants’ subjective realities,
thereby describing how experience might influence the development of moral orientation.
Causal-Comparative Results
The purpose of the causal comparative analyses was to determine difference
between the scores students with EBD and their typical peers on a measure of moral
theme comprehension and to evaluate which of seven independent variables (i.e.,
atypical/typical group, gender, grade, SES, ethnicity, reading comprehension, and trait
anger) would predict participants’ moral theme composite scores. Bivariate correlations
showed that EBD was not related to moral theme comprehension but that SES, ethnicity,
trait anger, and reading comprehension were. Moreover, I found that the relationships
among SES, ethnicity, and reading comprehension were also significant and that trait
anger was not related to any of the other independent variables.
To further complicate matters, EBD was related to ethnicity, reading
comprehension, SES, and gender, three of the four variables related to moral theme
comprehension. This finding is consistent with Kauffman’s (1995) portrayal of EBD
population characteristics as disproportionate with respect to ethnicity, gender,
achievement, and SES and it also prescribes caution when interpreting the relationship
between EBD and moral theme comprehension. In fact, EBD and moral theme
comprehension might indeed be related, but this relationship might be expressed

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primarily through the disproportionate representation of African-American students with
low SES who exhibit low average achievement within the EBD sample. Interview results
seemed to support this interpretation. None of the participants with EBD, regardless of
ethnicity or SES, voiced themes of cooperation in their moral judgements. In addition,
while pilot results also determined that ethnicity and SES were related, the relationship
between ethnicity and moral theme comprehension was non-significant. In the pilot,
however, SES is not controlled.
The non-significant finding for the relationship between grade and moral theme
comprehension reported in the pilot was replicated in these results. Although the typical
and atypical groups were unbalanced with respect to grade, chi square analyses showed
that the entire participant sample was within expected proportions with respect to grade.
Therefore, the grade distribution should not have presented limitations to a finding of a
developmental effect as others have found in typical samples (e.g., Bussey, 1992; Jones
& Gall, 1995, Zelazo, et al., 1996) if both groups were answering in developmentally
described patterns. For example, Narvaez et al. (1999) found difference between 3rd and
5th grader’s ability to detect moral themes in stories, even when controlling for reading
comprehension. In the present study, the participants with EBD were older than their
typical peers, lending additional evidence that the failure to find a developmental effect
may have been because the moral theme composite scores generated by the participants
with EBD were not consistent with previously described patterns in typical samples of
3rd-5th graders. Thus, failure to find a developmental effect may indicate that the
participants with EBD were not meeting the developmental milestones described by
Piaget (1932/1965) and Colby and Kohlberg (1987) when responding to the task of

129
recognizing moral themes of cooperation in stories. Once again, case study results seem
to support this interpretation. None of the students with EBD voiced themes of
cooperation in their moral judgements, a pattern similar to that of their typical peers with
low SES, but different from two typical peers with middle/high SES.
Another purpose of the causal comparative analyses was to determine which of
the seven variables would retain a significant relationship with moral theme
comprehension after accounting for all other independent variables. As expected, trait
anger became the best single predictor of moral theme comprehension and contrary to
expectations, reading comprehension was not determined to be a significant predictor of
moral theme comprehension. An examination of zero order correlations showed that
reading comprehension was more strongly related to moral theme comprehension (r =
.37) than was trait anger (r = -.29), but unlike trait anger, reading comprehension was also
related to three other variables that were related to moral theme comprehension;
ethnicity, SES, and group. Caution, therefore, should be exercised in interpreting the
predictive significance of ethnicity, SES, and reading comprehension, because not only
were these three variables related to moral theme comprehension, they were also strongly
related to each other. Moreover, the relationships between ethnicity and reading
comprehension (r = .33) and moral theme comprehension (r = .39) were also stronger
than the relationship between trait anger and moral theme comprehension and the
strongest zero order correlations were between ethnicity and SES (r = .49) and reading
comprehension (r = .44). As found in the pilot study, these results seem to point to SES
as a considerable influence on participants’ moral theme comprehension scores.
Therefore, another plausible interpretation of the regression results might be that in

130
addition to trait anger, membership in the group of African American students with low
SES and poor reading comprehension might also be a predictor of participants’ ability to
recognize moral themes of cooperation in stories. Considering that the population of
students with EBD is disproportionate with respect to ethnicity, SES, and students who
exhibit low achievement (Kauffman, 1995), failure to find difference between the typical
and atypical groups might have been due to the disproportionate number of low SES
students included in the participant sample.
Case Study Results
My analysis of interview data indicated that the moral judgments of typical peers
with low SES and informants with EBD were not motivated by themes of cooperation,
regardless of grade. In both groups, 3rd-5'h graders voiced moral judgements motivated by
egocentrism, a pattern that, according to Piaget (1932/1965) and Colby and Kohlberg
(1987), should begin to dissipate by approximately the la-2nd grade. Therefore, case
study results present evidence that poverty and EBD may influence the development of
moral orientation and causal-comparative results showed that these two variables are also
related to each other. Informed by theory, I hypothesized that if informants with low SES
and informants with EBD were not meeting maturational expectations found by others
(e.g., Colby & Kohlberg; Narvaez, et al. 1999) perhaps it was because the experiences
that shaped their subjective realities were different from those of their middle and high-
income typical peers.
According to Kauffman (1995), the societal role of students with EBD is
frequently represented in their social and physical exclusion from the mainstream of the
school community. This exclusion does not occur suddenly, but usually follows a history

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of rejection by peers and teachers alike, frequently resulting in their removal from the
mainstream (Kauffman). As a result, the relationship between a student with EBD and the
school community becomes one of physical and social rejection. According to Colby and
Kohlberg (1987a), individuals with low SES reason at lower stages because they, too, do
not experience the same opportunity for participation in and identification with society
and its institutions as do those who do not have low SES. Although experiences of
rejection from the mainstream of society may be more subtle for students with low SES,
some suggest that they are ever present nonetheless (e.g., Books, 1998; Colby &
Kohlberg; Palakow, 1998). Inquiry, therefore, appears to focus on determining how
exclusion and rejection might influence the development of moral judgement.
Moral judgements are judgments of value, not fact and they are social judgements
involving people (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987); therefore, moral orientations are shaped
through relationships with people. By analyzing the content and structure of informants’
moral judgements, I gained entry into informants’ subjective realities of their
relationships with authority figures, peers, and their communities. Moreover, I was able
to explore anomalies discovered within both quantitatively and qualitatively described
patterns. For example, while students with low SES dominate the population of students
with EBD, some students with EBD come from families that are not low SES and are not
members of a minority population. Case study results showed that all three middle/high
income informants with EBD expressed egocentrically motivated moral judgements and
that one middle/high income typical peer also voiced a similarly focused moral
orientation. These anomalies proved valuable in revealing clues about how children’s
experiences in relationships shaped their subjective realities and might influence the

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development of moral orientation. As informants deliberated solutions to the moral
dilemmas, they talked about individuals’ relationships with authority figures, peers, and
communities. As they reasoned through each moral problem, themes of justice and
injustice pervaded their talk about relationships and they often spontaneously described
the feelings that might accompany these differing relational experiences.
Relationships
Regardless of moral orientation, every informant expressed an overwhelming
tendency to look to external sources of authority for information about moral obligation.
On the other hand, when presented with a conflict between the moral authority of
external sources and the need to maintain relationships, they seemed to voice an
emerging preference to look inward for direction, frequently electing to side with the
norm of affiliation instead of norms representing external sources of authority. In this
respect, maintaining relations with others emerged as an important motivating theme in
informants’ responses.
Allison: [The children do not want to go live with their grandfather
because] they don’t think their grandfather is gonna like them and they
don’t want to go to him. [When you live with someone who likes you]
they’re nice to you. If they’re a kid they’ll play with you and if they’re a
grownup they go out with you, you know, like to the mall or go out to
lunch with you, if you’re a grownup.
*Cory poignantly related his need for relationships as he justified his choice for stealing
to save someone’s life.
If [Heinz’s wife] died, it’d be one less person on the earth. [Why do we
need to have people on earth.] So you could communicate and talk to them
about your problems and stuff.
*Cory stated that one should be willing to steal to save a pet, too.

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Because they’re your friend and if you don’t have nobody else, they could
be your friend. [Is that kind of the same reason why you think he needs to
keep the wife alive, even if he doesn’t love her] Yes. [Or a stranger]. Uh
huh.
Albert voiced a concern about the possibility of losing a mother-child relationship
If you didn’t love your mother and you went up to her and said that to her.
.. she would think that you didn’t respect her ... She might send you
down to your step dad and she might say if you don’t love me, you’ll
never see me again.
Allison, too, voiced a concern about what might happen if a daughter lost her connection
with her mother.
It’s her mother and they’ve got a strong relationship with each other ... I
think the daughter should be concerned about her mother just like giving
up on her. Thinks she’s out of her hands. I can’t control her and giving up
on her and leaving her behind.
Informants who previously proclaimed an obligation to always obey the law,
professed the morality of law breaking to maintain a relationship. For example, Barbie
decided that the boxcar children should break the law and run away
Because they should take care of their little brother. That's their
responsibility . .. Since their parents are gone, it's the older one's
responsibility to take care of the younger ones since he's younger.
Allison made the same connection between sibling relationships and the ethic of care.
Because she should love her sister because they’re related. They’re part of
the same family and they’re closer than like anybody else. And she should
care about... what happens to her sister. Because if her sister turns out [to
be a liar and a cheater] you might turn out like that too.
In this example, Allison recognized that one’s own moral growth is related to the moral
growth of others.
The need for care and protection also became the primary motivator for
maintaining relationships with adults. Allison stated, “The whole idea of living with your

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mother, I think, is to protect you.” Moreover, she decided that the boxcar children should
go find their grandfather, even if he is mean, because, “He’s a grownup and he can take
care of them. He would protect them and feed them. And give them good clothes.”
Albert reiterated the importance of the ethic of care in his relationship with his
mother saying,
She is very nice to me and gave birth to me. She takes care of me and
she’s like risking everything to get a new job so she can take care of us.
According to *Cory, “Sometimes when people go to a foster home they get split and
then, they don't get treated right.” For all of my informants, the comfort of relationships
with peers, siblings, and adults, resided in their need for care and protection.
Just and Unjust Relationships
Children need to experience cooperation in relationships to develop a sense of
personal agency with respect to moral decision making (Piaget, 1932/1965). When
children’s experiences with others are limited to submissively obedient, unjust
relationships, they appear to forfeit this opportunity. Sadly, results suggest that the
reasoning patterns of a significant number of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade participants who
responded to the tasks presented on the MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) and ten of my
informants were similar, in many respects, to those Piaget found in 3-7 year olds.
Therefore, I proposes that egocentrically focused moral reasoning may not be contingent
upon maturation, but may indeed reflect children’s experiences in unjust, obedience-
focused relationships.
Iniustice and obedience. Themes of injustice and submissive obedience walked
hand in hand throughout the moral judgements of a majority of my informants.
Sometimes their judgements centered on adult behavior and the injustices that can occur

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when imbalances of power exist. For example, when asked about a scout’s obligation to
obey a scoutmaster’s unfair request, *Bonnie replied, “She shouldn’t go get it if it wasn’t
her chore. [But should she obey the scoutmaster?]Yes. [Why?] So she wouldn’t get in
trouble.” *Bonnie thought compliance with the scoutmaster request was unfair, but she
determined that the scout had no choice. She must obey the scoutmaster or face certain
trouble.
Many of my informants agreed with Bonnie. Adult authority must be obeyed,
even when valued norms of fairness are being violated. Adult authority is absolute and
all-powerful; adults can act with impunity. According to * Bonnie, “There’s no one to put
[adults] in trouble ... There’s no older person [they] can get in trouble by.” Submission
to adult commands via unquestioning obedience is a child’s only choice. In fact, *Alex
described the relationship between child and adult as salve-like, advising that the boxcar
children tell authorities who they are and where they are from so they can be returned to
their “owners.”
Allison described parents who misuse the balance of power as mean. “[When
grownups don’t like you and they’re mean to you] they don’t give you stuff. And they
talk harshly, and sometimes they punish you for no reason.” Unlike * Bonnie, *Alex and
many of the others, she recognized the damage parents can do to relationships when they
behave unfairly. Allison reasoned that parents should issue punishment with fairness
Because if one of the boys didn’t [play with the scissors], and he still got
punished, he’d think his mother was mean and it’s not good to have a
child think you’re mean.

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Sadly, themes of abuse and harsh punishment frequently invaded informants’
judgements when they talked about the absolute power of adult authority. For example,
*Allen expressed his concerns about adults’ abuse of power saying,
[Why shouldn’t the children take Violet to the doctor?] Because if the
grandfather is mean, he’ll probably abuse them. And they’ll probably run
away again.
*Allen proclaimed that sometimes children are justified in running away. “Like when
your parents are mistreating you really bad. Like hitting you in the face all the time and
abusing you.” Moreover, he attributed his knowledge about the inadequacies of
punishment to his mother’s participation in child abuse classes.
Because my mom took this child abuse class that teaches you what to do
and not try to do child abuse. And she says that talking to them nicely
would do better than just spanking them cause pain goes away, but words
cannot escape.
Meanwhile, * Allen also shared that his dad, “[Ljoves to spank me and get all up in my
face and say, ‘Go to your room.’”
Albert also spoke of the injustice of harsh punishment.
And he like just spanked me and [said], “You’re never gonna break that
glass again, right?” But I didn’t [do it]. And then he kept on spanking me
until I said, yes sir. And I got like, spanked about ten times.
On several occasions, informants described caretakers as mean and brutal. *Alex
reasoned that Louise should not tell on Judy because she might be blamed for being a
tattletale. Moreover, he described punishment to include “getting punched” or getting
“your mouth washed out with soap.” Yet, he consistently favored punishment because
talking to children “wouldn’t do no good.”

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‘Brian voiced the same reasoning pattern. After stating that the grandfather would
probably “torture them,” if he found the boxcar children, Brian still determined that the
best decision was to
Go back to their grandfather... Because he can provide them with
money and shelter. Well they already have shelter, but he can just provide
them with food and money and stuff.
Interestingly, ‘Brian was so concerned about punishment and the physical pain it
inflicted that he was unable to make a decision when presented with a conflict between
the issues of punishment and conscience. He reasoned that punishment was necessary to
motivate obedience, but also favored explaining because, “It’s better than just like,
getting beat up for something that you didn’t know. You have to teach kids about that.”
‘Cory, too, favored punishment, but proclaimed that a father’s motivation to punish was
to hurt people;” therefore, a father might choose to explain instead, “Because you could
put bruises on them and you would go to jail.”
Justice and mutual respect. To develop a sense of cooperation and a need to care
for others, children must experience justice motivated by fairness (Piaget,1932/1965).
For example, Carl determined fairness by employing the ethic of reciprocity. He judged
appealing to a child’s conscience as the right choice in addressing disobedience because.
“The child wouldn’t be able to spank the daddy [if he did something the child didn’t like]
so, I guess the one who just explains is fair.” Moreover, Carl proclaimed,
[The mother] is the one who wants her daughter to not lie and she should
do the same thing. She shouldn’t put her daughter up to something that the
mother can’t even do herself.

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Both Carl and Allison relied primarily on equality as a measure of mutual
respect. On occasion, however, they imposed the ethic of equity to guide decision
making.
Allison: [The mother should not punish the boys who played with the
scissors] because before she explained not to do it, she didn’t say they’d
be punished. She said just not to play with them. So they didn’t know why
not to play with them.
In the present study, only Allison and Carl were able to verbalize how experiences of
mutual respect with external sources of authority affect judgement. According to Carl,
equality is an important aspect of fairness.
[FJair is if you both work for something and you all got it. Y’all worked
the same, then y’all should get the same, you know. One shouldn’t get
more than the other.
In the following example, Allison prophetically elaborated the positive effects when
children experience equality in mutually respecting relationships.
Because if they didn’t feel like they were equal, then they might just stop,
you know. Stop doing work like schoolwork or something. Something
really bad might happen to them. But if they feel like they’re equal, they’ll
have a say so and stand up to what’s going on.
According to Allison, mutually respecting, just relationships with authority provide
experiences that empower children by including them as equal partners in the decision
making process. In this regard, Allison invoked her own experience when she talked about
Judy’s relationship with her mother.
[Judy should get to spend her money however she wants] because she
earned the money. My mom thinks this isn’t right, but she earned the
money so I think she could spend it on whatever she wanted to spend it on.

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In this example, Allison shows that she is not afraid to “stand up for what’s going on”
because even though she and her mother may disagree, in a just, mutually respecting
relationship, adult authority gives voice to the child.
Feelings
None of the demographic variables (Le., SES, ethnicity, gender, and EBD) was
directly related to trait anger; yet, anger proved to be the only predictor of moral theme
comprehension. Researchers present anger as a mysterious, complex emotion that appears
to play a role in the development of other emotions (e.g., Berkowitz, 1990, Clay et al.,
1993; Levine, 1995; Hains & Szjkowiski, 1990); therefore, children might express
feelings other than anger when faced with a injustice (Kassinove & Sukhodolsky, 1995;
Shoemaker, Erickson, & Finch, 1986). Indeed, researchers have found that sometimes
children describe anger when faced with injustice, and sometimes they report sadness
(Fabes & Eisenberg, 1992; Lebolt et al., 1998; Levine, 1995; Murphy & Eisenberg,
1996). Apparently, discriminate validity is difficult to establish when measuring
children’s feelings of anger and sadness (Shoemaker et al.)
I did not include a measure of depression in my causal comparative analyses, but
perusal of case study data revealed that my informants spoke of sadness, as well as anger,
when they made judgments about injustice in relationships. Moreover, they described
expectations of love and happiness as the positive benefits of relationships. According to
my informants, anger and sadness are likely emotional responses to unjust, submissively
obedient relationships and love and happiness are likely emotional responses to just,
mutually respecting relationships. Informants explained that when love and happiness are
realized in relationships, children feel empowered to develop an autonomously directed

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ethic of care and concern for the welfare of others. In contrast, when their experiences are
limited to unjust, submissively obedient relationships, retaliation and disobedience are
likely responses.
Aneer and sadness. As my informants prescribed judgement about the conflicts
presented, they often shared their feelings. In the following example, Albert related a
personal experience with injustice and vividly described the intense feelings of anger that
resulted.
My other little brother, my stepbrother Ned, he [pause]. I had this action
figure. He doesn’t really know what my dad’s hammer does, but he took
my dad’s hammer out of his tool belt and slammed in on my action figure
and he broke it into pieces that were like an inch tall. I was just so mad
that my pressure just got out of rage and I yelled at him. But anger just
took over me and 1 knew I wasn’t supposed to yell at him, at my little
brother, but my anger just took control of me ... So instead, I got in
trouble. 1 told my dad that Ned got the hammer and slammed it on my
action figure and broke it into pieces. [And the stepfather said] He’s just a
baby. [Albert adds] I know Ned knows what that thing does.
When informants perceived injustices in the actions of authority figures and peers,
they described anger, sometimes accompanied by retaliation, as a likely emotional
response. For example, *Brian voiced anger and a need to retaliate when judging the
actions of a mother who was demanding moral behavior from her daughter that she did
not consider binding on her own behavior. He tallied the mother’s moral indiscretion
score advising that,
Louise shouldn’t tell. Because the mother did two things wrong and the
child did one thing wrong. I mean the mother did three things wrong and
the child did two things wrong. [Tell me what three things the mother did
wrong?] The mother broke a promise, and she made her child mad. That’s
two so far, and I forget the third thing that I was going to say.
Like Albert, just talking about the injustice brought to mind such intense feelings of
anger that he couldn’t remember what he wanted to say.

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*Cory, too, prescribed that Louise should keep quiet, “Because [the mother] made
a promise that she couldn’t keep ... Then [she’ll] be lying.” When asked why is it wrong
to break promises, *Cory responded, “Because sometimes when you don’t keep your
promise you hurt other people’s feelings. And sometimes you hurt yours too.” I noted a
subtle hint of intense anger as *Cory went on to explain that when a mother lies, the
daughter is no longer obligated to obey. “Because ... a daughter might not like her mom,
and she might not talk to her or when her mother asks her to do something, she’ll say no.”
Likewise, Betty predicted the same angry response when asked what might
happen if mothers break their promises. She agreed with other informants that broken
promises make children angry and can lead to retaliation, “Then they’ll try to do
something that they weren’t supposed to do.” Barbie warned that friends should keep
their promises, too, or they may suffer wrath and retaliation. “[I]f you hurt somebody’s
feelings, maybe somebody will hurt your feelings and you’ll see how they feel.”
Allison described how fear can turn to anger and anger can lead to retaliation
when a parent is perceived as harsh and unjust in issuing punishment. Allison proclaimed
that, “[If punished unjustly], the little boy will start acting afraid. And if you’re afraid of
something, then you start acting mean also.” Barbie agreed with Allison’s
conceptualization of the effects of harsh punishment saying, “Maybe [the boy] who got a
whipping, maybe he was mad at his dad [for whipping him]. Maybe he decided to keep
[the pen].”
* Allen situated his moral judgements about peer relations in the context of a real
experience, explaining how a friend broke a promise to him and it made him “very mad
and sad, upset.” Other informants, as well, described feelings of sadness when faced with

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injustice. For example, *Bonnie reasoned that promises should be kept “because, people
get all happy when you say you promise them. And it kind of puts them down when you
say no.” * Alex invoked sadness to describe the feelings of both parties when a mother
breaks her promise. “[The daughter] will start crying ... [Because] the mom broke her
heart,” and the mother will be crying too, “because she broke a promise with her
daughter.”
Using this same logic, Allison decided that the boxcar children should find their
grandfather and go live with him because, “Their grandfather might miss them. He might
be sad.” Allison also spoke in general terms about feelings of sadness that may result
when relationships are broken.
[I]f you leave somebody, someone could be so sad that something really
bad could happen to them. Like they could, you know, do something
against the law just because they are so sad.
As with anger, Allison predicted retaliation against authority when injustice brings about
feelings of sadness.
Love and happiness. Informants also talked about expectations of love and
happiness as a result of social relationships. For example, *Alex posed love as the only
condition that would justify stealing saying Heinz should steal because, “He loves her
very, very much” and *Cory agreed, stating that Heinz should steal to keep his wife alive
“because they love each other.”
Informants often described love as a vital component of the parent-child
relationship, as well. Indeed, love seemed to represent the glue that binds social
relationships in spite of imbalances in power. In the following example, Allison declared
love to be the foundation of a just relationship with one’s mother.

[I]t’s her mother and they’ve got a strong relationship with each other ...
Even if the daughter lies to her mother, or you know, like they still get
mad at each other, they still love each other.
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When questioned about disobedience, Allison prescribed love, not fear of punishment, as
the motivational force that fuels a child’s desire to “tell the truth.” Likewise, Albert, who
made frequent references to personal experiences with harsh unjust punishment from his
stepfather, stated that even though your dad punishes you, “He still loves you.”
*Cory, too, stated that, “the most important thing [for a daughter] to think [about
is] that her mom love[s] her.” Albert used the same logic saying that the most important
thing a mother can do is, “To love her [daughter] and to keep loving her for all of her life.”
In contrast, *Bonnie used love to justify children’s obligation to obey their mothers, even
when mothers break promises, “because it’s right.” Nevertheless, * Allen judged that
promises should be kept “Because it makes people feel good.”
Allison extolled the bonds of love and the ethic of care in sibling relationships
saying,
She should love her sister because they’re related. They’re part of the
same family and they’re closer than like anybody else. And she should
care about her sister...
or a brother, “Because he’s your family and . .. you love him. So you wouldn’t want him
to be anywhere else besides with you.” Allison reasoned that the boxcar children should
take their sick sibling to the hospital
Because they don’t want their sister to die. They love each other and
they’d feel real sad. They want her to be as happy as she can be. She’s
only a little girl, so she should live longer.
Moreover, Albert responded that he would give all of his lunch to his little stepbrother, a
central character in many of his tirades about injustice, because, “I love him.”

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According to my informants, just mutually respecting relationships that engender feelings
of love and happiness appear to empower an internally imposed sense of morality that is
not guided by rules or laws, but is obligated by the ethic of care and a genuine concern
for welfare of others.
Moral Orientation
Although causal comparative results indicated that trait anger was the only
predictor of participants’ ability to understand moral themes in stories, informants
responses to moral dilemmas suggested that anger may be only one of several emotions
that can occur as a result of children’s experiences in relationships. For example, when
faced with unjust, submissively obedient relationships, my informants described feelings
of anger and sadness and predicted disobedience and retaliation as likely responses. On
the other hand, they defined love and happiness as the emotional concomitants of just,
mutually respecting relationships and prescribed the ethic of care and protection as a
likely response. Therefore, the data suggest that feelings of anger, sadness, love, and
happiness are emotions that may directly influence the motivation of moral orientation.
Anger and sadness seem to motivate precoventional level orientations and love and
happiness seem to motivate conventional level orientations.
Preconventional level: Punishment obedience and personal reward orientations.
Individuals whose verbal responses typified preconventional reasoning consistently
employed an egocentric perspective when making moral judgements. While previous
conceptualizations have portrayed predominately self-focused reasoning in individuals
over the age of 9 as developmentally atypical (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a), the data
suggested the phenomenon might be adaptive. For example, when children’s

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relationships with adult authority are unjust, submissively obedient, and punitive, then-
general perception of external sources of authority as all-powerful and absolute is
understandable.
Albert: I saw this one episode of Walker Texas Ranger ... In The Client... In
the Bible.
‘Bonnie: [Where do laws come from?] From the police.
‘Brian: [Where did laws come from?] Heaven . . . It’s God. Because God tells the
spirit people and then spirit people go down to earth and tell us humans what to
write down.
Chris: [Where do laws come from?] I can’t remember what the branch was
in my social studies book. [Do they just think them up on their own?]
Yeah, maybe . .. [Why do we have laws?] Because we can’t do everything
that we want to do.
‘Carey: [Why is it important to obey laws?] Because God made all the
rules in the United States.
In addition, if individuals do not obey all-powerful sources of authority, they may risk the
consequences of eminent justice.
Albert: Well, I would listen to my mom because they’re a lot older and it
says in the Bible you should respect your parents or I will punish you in
some way in actions. Like, I guess I disobeyed my mom and I stepped on
my belt [buckle] and it took some of the skin off my foot.
‘Alien: Yes because after [the boy] got whooped he's like I should have
never took that pen. So then he probably returned it.
When children are required to navigate issues of obligation in master-slave type
relationships, they must employ a morality motivated by instrumental purpose to seek
justice for themselves. In unjust, submissively obedient relationships, punishment is often
a harsh reality, but never a certainty.
‘Allen: Because it's bad to steal and you could probably get in trouble,
deep trouble. You could probably go to jail.

*Cory: Because if you don’t [obey the law] sometimes you go to jail.
One must calculate the probability of getting caught if moral authority is defied.
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In fact, sometimes disobedience might result in reward.
“Brian: Like God is in my heart at all times and I would steal it even though it’s
not right. [Because you think you should be willing to go to jail to save someone
else?] Yeah, you might even be able to get out of prison with $2000 dollars.
“Cory: If he steal it might, something good might happen to him for
keeping the person alive.
Therefore, one must careiully weigh the consequences when determining the obligatory
always remembering the importance of selfish claims. *Brian explained, [What should
the judge do about Heinz?] Let him free. [Why?] I don’t know. Cause I like Heinz.”
According to “Cory,
[A good mother] bragfs] about her [daughter] and talk[s] about her a lot.
Her daughter been in the newspaper for something good.. .She would
want her mama to say, “My daughter was in the newspaper for helping
somebody.” ... She would want her mama telling all her friends that her
daughter helped somebody.
At times, my informants’ self-focused thinking seemed benign, requiring only
patience while maturation and experience take their courses. At other times, however,
their egocentric judgments provided chilling examples of how dangerous, antisocial
behavior can be portrayed as justice when one’s judgements are egocentrically motivated.
Albert: [Is it important for people to do everything they can to save
another person’s life]. Well, that depends on if they [they one who needs
saving] is good or bad.
“Brian: [If it’s wrong to steal, but right to try to save someone’s life, what should
Heinz do?] I think Heinz should give the [druggist] sleeping medicine and take
[the drug].
“Allen: If they want [Violet] to die, well don’t take her [to the hospital],
but if they want her to live . . . take her. [Would there be a situation where
you wanted someone to die?] No. Well, yeah, once ... If they like killed

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somebody or something. If they killed somebody and I wanted them to
die.
Conventional level: Good bov/nice girl and law and order orientation. Researchers
suggest that conventional reasoning emerges developmentally from preconventional
reasoning, usually by the age of 9 (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987a). The data indicated that the
emergence of conventional reasoning may be contingent upon one’s participation in
mutually respecting, just relationships, not age. Case study results indicated that Allison
and Carl were the only two informants who voiced conventional reasoning patterns using
a member of society perspective that successfiilly coordinates the separate perspectives of
preconventional reasoning into a third party perspective, one of mutually trusting
relationships.
Similar to other informants, themes of moral realism pervaded their judgements,
but they predicated their desire to maintain rules and obey authority figures on a need to
maintain just, mutually respecting relationships. For Allison, individuals are obligated to
maintain a socially shared system of norms in an effort to meet the expectations of
intimate relationships as a daughter, son, sibling, student, and friend.
Allison: [Does it matter what your dad thinks about you?] Yes ... You
want him to think that you’re a good kid . . . And that he can trust you . ..
That you don’t steal or hurt other people.
In contrast, Carl employed a societal perspective, maintaining the value of law to
produce social order and harmony.
Carl: [Why is it important to obey the law?] Because they have the police,
the marines corps, the army and all of the stuff that will protect us. And
schools which educate the children.
Carl: [What is the job of a police officer] To catch the robbers, and to
protect society. Make sure people follow the law. If they don’t they’ll have

to handcuff them and send them to jail. And let the court decide if they’ll
go to jail permanent or, or if they’re innocent.
The intent of both perspectives, however, is getting along with others.
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Allison: [What would be the good brother’s reasons for not telling on the
foolish brother] He probably doesn't want his other brother to get told on,
[because] maybe [he would] get in trouble and [the good brother would]
feel bad for the [foolish] brother. If he doesn't tell... the father won't like
it because ... now he has two deceitful childs instead of only one.
Likewise, Carl reasoned that laws must be obeyed to prevent a breakdown of the
system, imposing an “if everybody did it” justification.
[Why is it against the law for children to run away?] Because if children
were allowed to run away, then there would be so many, like, homeless
children. There’d be so many reports of people being gone and it’d just be
. . better to make one rule that they can’t run away. If there were a bunch
of poor kids, you know, who have no money at all and they’ll never get a
job when they’re older. So they’ll always be beggars and stuff, you know.
They may grow up to like, have to kill people to get money, you know.
[T]hen there’d be reports about their kids running away, you know, and
they can’t find them and stuff like that. [I]t’d just be one big mess. Why
not just make one law about it.
Carl and Allison both used the Golden Rule as a moral guide, but Carl couched
his experience in a social system perspective.
[Is stealing wrong because it is against the law?] That’s not the only
reason why [stealing] is wrong because if like, you wouldn’t want people
to steal from you, would you? No, so you still shouldn’t steal because you
don’t want anyone to steal from you.
Both informants judged moral rules as binding on the behavior of adults and
children equally. Allison used intimate relationships to describe fairness in terms of
equality.
Allison: [Can the mother expect the daughter to keep promises she
breaks?] Yeah, I think that's bad because just because they're kids, doesn't
mean that they don't get the same respect as adults.They're still people.
Whereas, Carl upheld equal protection under the law.

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[Where do laws come from?] From the government. [What is the job of
lawmakers?] To make sure they make laws and ... to make sure the laws
are sometimes equal. So the judges might say that stealing is worse than
murder, which isn't really worse. And they make sure that they go through
on how important it is, you know, and what are the consequences.
Moreover, both seemed to have a basic understanding of the place of equity in fairness
Allison: [So you think it is important to tell the children why they
shouldn’t play with the scissors.] Yes, because before she explained not to
do it, she didn't say they'd be punished. She said just not to play with
them. Say, so they didn't know why not to play with them ... If I were
their parent, I just wouldn’t leave them alone.
Carl tended to employ a generalized system perspective when passing judgement
while Allison preferred to use a perspective grounded in intimate relationships.
Regardless, cooperation and a concern for the welfare of others motivated the judgements
of both informants. Gilligan (1982) argued that this kind of difference in social
perspective is not maturational, but may be due, instead, to cultural influences on gender
roles. Therefore, the differences in Carl and Allison’s reasoning may reflect cultural
differences, not maturational differences. In fact, Allison, a 3rd grader, provided the only
example of a principled judgement throughout the entire interview process.
[Do you have any rule for how you decide when it’s right to break a law?]
Well, when something’s bad happening, when something’s happening to
you that’s bad, then, I think, you should break the law. But it has to be
very serious because they make the law for a reason. [And what is that
reason?] So that people are safe.
In this example, Allison imposed judgement using a prior-to-society perspective,
recognizing that the purpose of convention is to promote universal moral principles.
When the principle is not upheld by obedience to convention, then the principle, not the
convention, represents the obligatory.

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Experience and the Development of Moral Orientation
In Figure 5.1,1 propose a conceptual framework that presents children’s
experiences in relationships as the central component in the development of moral
orientation. My framework employs a theoretical lens to interpret the causal-correlational
and case study results and is intended to be a hermeneutic for discovery. According to my
conceptualization, experiences in mutually respecting relationships engender positive
feelings that facilitate the development of an other-focused moral orientation premised on
the ethic of cooperation and care. On the other hand, experiences in unjust, submissively
obedient relationships foster negative feelings that limit the development of moral
orientation to one that is guided by egocentric concerns.
Limitations
The results of causal-comparative and case study research cannot be used to
establish causality. Other more rigorous research methodologies such as structural
equation modeling are required to test causal relationships among constructs. To develop
my conceptual framework, I integrated the causal-comparative and case study results
with theory and previous research to justify the causal relations presented within the
framework. While case study results facilitate elaboration and explanation and allow the
exploration of exceptions that exist within quantitatively described patterns, the results of
case study research are limited in generalizability to persons and contexts included in the
study. Furthermore, the external validity of the causal-comparative results was also
compromised when I controlled for SES using stratified sampling. As a result, the typical
and atypical samples were not representative of the populations from which they were
drawn with respect to SES. Therefore, I encourage others to examine my

Experience and the Development of Moral Orientation
Figure 5.1: Conceptual Model for the Development of Moral Orientation

152
conceptualization as a hermeneutic for discovery that may enhance theory-building
efforts.
There are also additional limitations related to instrumentation. The MTI
(Narvaez et al. 1999) cannot be used to determine respondent’s moral orientations; it is a
measure of moral theme comprehension. Therefore, moral orientation is assessed by the
degree to which the respondent selects cooperation or does not select cooperation as a
moral motivator in the stories presented. In addition, the low reliability estimates for this
administration of the MTI (Narvaez et al.) present concerns about the validity of the
results. On the other hand, reliability may have been effected by sample homogeneity
with respect to grade and SES and the use a shortened version of the test. Narvaez et al.
developed the test for use with elementary aged children, however, they included adults
in their sample, which may have resulted in greater score variability and higher reliability
than one would expect if only elementary aged children were included in the sample.
Moreover, Narvaez and Bock (2000) encouraged using two stories instead of one in the
administration manual limiting the length of the test, however, they do not report the
effects this decision may have on reliability.
The use of Jacobs and Blumer’s (1984) Feelings Questionnaire to measure trait
anger also posed several limitations tot he interpretation of the study results. According to
Kassinove and Sukhodolsky (1995) feelings refer to the language-based, self-perceived,
phenomenological state. Therefore, feelings are subjective and may not be an accurate
description of emotion. In contrast, emotion refers to the complex of self-perceived
feeling states, physiological reaction patterns, and associated behaviors. Shoemaker et al.
(1986) found that the subjective nature of self-report measures of children’s emotions did

153
not appear to correspond well with more objective peer nomination and teacher report
measures, but they found a strong correlation between peer nomination and teacher report
measures. These authors reported that the results of their study of depression and anger in
3rd and 4,h grade boys failed to support the discriminant validity of self-report measures
of depression and anger.
Finally, the complicated network of interrelations among the seven independent
variables also presented limitations to the interpretation of the results. For example, I
could not conclusively evaluate the relationships among reading comprehension,
ethnicity, and EBD and moral theme comprehension because all of these variables were
related to SES and were also related to each other. Furthermore, I was unable to assess
the developmental effect because the atypical and typical samples were unbalanced with
respect to grade.
Implications
The results of the present study provide evidence that the moral orientation of
students with EBD is different from some, but not all, of their typical peers. The
correlation analysis indicated that poverty, ethnicity, reading comprehension, and anger
are related to participants ability to understand themes of cooperation in moral stories;
however, because ethnicity was confounded with SES, the results pertaining to ethnicity
should be viewed with caution. Moreover, the relationship between EBD and moral
theme comprehension only approached significance, but EBD was found to be
significantly related to poverty, ethnicity, and reading comprehension. Interestingly,
results indicated that EBD was not related to trait anger. The case study results provided
additional support for the quantitative findings, and, more importantly, proved vital in

154
facilitating insight into the basic intent and feelings that existed in my informants’
subjective realities of their relationships with authority and peers.
Professional Practice
The implications of the results are far reaching with respect to practice. First, the
finding that the moral orientation of students with EBD and many of their typical peers
may be limited to preconventional reasoning serves to remind educators that students
with EBD were, at one time, typical peers, themselves. Therefore, one important
implication may be that while students with EBD frequently experience a physical
rejection from the learning community, many typical peers may be experiencing the same
kind of rejection, but not as profoundly. To adequately address the moral education of
students with EBD and many of their typical peers, researchers need to conduct a critical,
in depth analysis of the hidden curriculum, identifying the structures that support the
rejection of some children and the inclusion of others in the educative processes.
Results indicate that realizing the meaningfully inclusion of all children in the
learning community may be vital if educators are to foster the development of
responsible citizens and perhaps prevent the debilitating, long-term effects of EBD.
Therefore, the meaning of the terms “democratic education” and “good teaching” must be
operationalized into a professional practice that includes all learners as equal participants.
Kohlberg’s Just Community represents a promising approach toward moral education
because it is couched in the philosophy of democratic education. According to Power and
his coauthors (1989), Kohlberg conceived this approach as a way to teach the principles
of justice and development a sense of fairness in learning communities. The educative
context for the approach is a participatory democracy that deliberately employs the

155
hidden curriculum to advocate for collective rather than individual achievement, equal
rather than stratified social relations, and democratic rather than hierarchical decision
making. By implementing the ideal of democratic schooling, educators seek to facilitate
the development of character and a strong sense of social responsibility.
As indicated, the Just Community is far more than an intervention designed to
teach children socially acceptable “oughts” and “shoulds”. The Just Community employs
a cognitive-developmental approach to classroom and school management that is
specifically designed to operationalize the principles of democratic education and good
teaching. The effectiveness of this approach, however, has not been examined in
elementary classrooms where it might have an early impact on the development of
children’s morality. Therefore, the promise of this approach for elementary school
students should be investigated.
Teacher Preparation
To develop ethically focused children, we must deliberately influence the
development of ethically focused teachers. New approaches toward classroom
management can not be implemented successfully unless the architects of children’s
classroom experiences, their teachers, are included in the re-creation of the learning
community. Teachers are required daily to make ethical decisions about the educative
and social needs of their students; yet, ethics is not usually a component of preservice
education. To conceptualize and implement learning communities based on the ethic of
meaningful inclusion in just, cooperative relationships, preservice teachers should be
required to study ethics and should participate in a democratic learning communities as a
part of their preservice education. In this way, preservice teachers can be provided with

156
the ethical tools they most certainly will need when, in practice, they are called upon to
apply ever changing social conventions such as law, policy, and fads to make important
moral decisions about children’s educational and social development.
Future Research
Future research on children’s moral development should include rigorous
inquiries employed to identify the causal relationships among behavior, emotion, and
moral reasoning. Such inquiries, however, will require the development of additional
reliable, valid, and sensitive measures of emotion, behavior, and moral reasoning. For the
present study, I used the special education designation of EBD as a behavioral measure;
however, this is not a reliable measure of antisocial behavior. The typical sample may
have included students who also exhibited significant behavior problems, but were not
identified as EBD (Kauffman, 1995). Future investigations should include valid measures
of maladaptive behavior that can provide reliable information about the relationship
between behavior and reasoning.
Measuring the emotional concomitants of children’s reasoning and behavior is
difficult. For example, EBD may indicate the presence of anger as expressed in
externalizing behaviors, depression or anxiety as expressed in internalizing behaviors, or
a combination of all three (Kauffman, 1995). Moreover, researchers have found that there
may be an overlap between the emotions of anger and sadness, presenting additional
challenges in establishing discriminate validity when trying to measure children’s
emotions (Shoemaker et al., 1986). To continue the investigation into the relationship
between moral reasoning and emotion, researchers will need to develop valid instruments
that reliably assess children’s emotional responses.

157
Finally, future explorations of the development of moral orientation will require
the development of measures that are valid with respect to evaluating the salience of
specific psychological structures (e.g., egocentrism, cooperation, moral realism) that
define each orientation. The MTI (Narvaez et al., 1999) stories and tasks are lengthy and
it presents moral dilemmas embedded in sophisticated interactions among setting, action,
character, and theme. Furthermore, the interpretation of the results is limited to an
evaluation of respondents’ ability to recognize moral themes of cooperation in stories.
My observation of informants’ as they responded to the Piagetian dilemmas (1932/1965)
suggest that short stories grounded in experiences relevant to most children’s lives
seemed to be more engaging and might provide more meaningful information about the
structure and motivation of children’s moral judgement. Therefore, I encourage the
development of instruments that measure changes in moral judgement that occur prior to
the development of cooperation in order to identify, implement, and evaluate
interventions designed to address children’s moral education needs at an early age when
intervention is likely to be the most effective.

APPENDIX A
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD DOCUMENTS

& UNIVERSITY OF
P FLORIDA
Institutional Review Board
January 5, 2001
98A Psychology Bldg.
PO Box 112250
Gainesville, FL 32611-2250
Phone: (352) 392-0433
Fax: (352) 392-9234
Email: irb2@ufl.edu
http://www.rgp.uil.edu/irb/irb02
To:
From:
Subject:
Title:
Funding:
Stephen W. Smith, Ph.D.
315G Nonnan Hall
Campus
C. Michael Levy
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board
Renewal of Protocol #1999-937R
A Study of Moral Reasoning in 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Students with Emotional
Disturbance
Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education
I am pleased to inform you. that the Board determined at its December 14, 2000 meeting your research
presents no more than minii&al risk. The Board voted to approve your renewal conditional upon explicit
changes. Those changes have been received and we now issue this approval letter.
Attached is the approved informed consent for you to use with your project. If you wish to make further
changes to this protocol you must disclose your plans prior to implementing them so that the Board can
assess their impact on your protocol. In addition, you must report to the Board any unexpected
complications that affect your participants.
This approval is valid until December 14, 2001. If you have not completed this protocol by then, please
telephone our office at 392-0433 and we will discuss the renewal process with you. It is important that
you keep your Department Chair informed about the status of this research protocol.
CML:dl

160
Department of Special Education
P.O. Box 117050
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7050
Dear Parent/Guardian,
I am a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education at the University of Florida under the
supervision of Dr. Stephen W. Smith, conducting research on children’s moral reasoning. Moral reasoning
refers to the child’s explanation for making decisions among choices in situations where there may be no
clear right or wrong answer. The results of the study may help educators understand how children make
decisions about their own behavior and the behavior of others. These results may not directly help your
child today, but may benefit students in the future.
The children who participate will be asked to listen to four stories in which characters are faced with a
moral decision. For each story, they will be asked to answer ten true-false comprehension questions and to
select the closest match to the moral message from a choice of six messages. Story one is about a girl who
saves a man’s cattle from being lost in a storm. Story two is about two good friends at school. Story three is
about a boy who is babysitting his little sister. Story four is about a girl who is moving to a new home. The
stories and questions are on tape (no reading required) and require two 30-minute periods (approximate) to
complete. Your child will also be asked to complete a Feelings Questionnaire that takes about 15 minutes
to complete. Your child’s teacher will choose a time during the school day for your child to listen to the
stories and complete the questionnaire. In addition, we will request the following information about your
child: age, ethnicity, gender, free or reduced lunch eligibility, and achievement test scores. Children’s
names will not be recorded on their responses and the results will only be reported in the form of group
data. Your child’s identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and participation or non¬
participation in this study will not affect your child's grades or placement in any programs.
Participation in this research study is voluntary, and you and your child have the right to withdraw at any
time without consequence. There are no known risks or benefits to your child and no compensation is
offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in July upon request. If you have any
questions about this research, please contact me at 392-0726 ext. 288 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Smith,
at 392-0701 ext. 247. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be
directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Elizabeth L. Hardman
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child,
, to participate in Elizabeth Hardman’s study of children’s moral reasoning. I have
received a copy of this description.
Parent / Guardian
Date
2nd Parent / Witness
Date

161
Assent Script 1
(Moral Theme Inventory)
My name is Elizabeth Hardman and I am a student at the University of Florida. I would like to ask you to
listen to some stories and then mark on your answer sheets what you think is the closest match to the
message of the story. I will be the only one to hear your answers and I will not tell any one what you say.
You may stop at any time and you do not have to answer any questions you don’t want to answer. Would
you like to participate?
Assent Script 2
(Feelings Questionnaire)
My name is Elizabeth Hardman and I am a student at the University of Florida. I would like to complete a
questionnaire about your feelings. I will read the questions and all of the answers and you will mark on
your answer sheets if you agree or disagree with each statement. I will be the only person to see your
answers and I will not tell anyone how you answered. You may stop at any time and you will not have to
answer any questions you do not want to answer. Would you like to participate?

162
Department of Special Education
P.O. Box 117050
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7050
Dear Parent/Guardian,
I am a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education at the University of Florida under the
supervision of Dr. Stephen W. Smith, conducting research on children’s moral reasoning. Moral reasoning
refers to the logic children use when determining what the “ought” to do in a dilemma. The results of the
study may help educators understand how children make decisions about their own behavior and the
behavior others. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit students in the
future.
With your consent, your child will participate in three interviews in which 1 will tell him/her nine short
stories about characters facing a moral decision. I will ask your child questions about what the characters
in the stories ought to do, but your child will not be required to answer any question he/she does not wish to
answer. I am requesting your permission to audiotape your child’s responses. The children who participate
will be assigned a code number and children’s names will not be recorded on any of the tapes, transcripts,
or notes. Only Dr. Smith and I will have access to the audiotapes and at the end of the study, all tapes will
be destroyed. The interviews will take place at school during school hours at a time agreeable to his/her
teacher. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Your child’s identity will be kept
confidential to the extent provided by law and participation and non-participation in this study will not
affect the your child's grades or placement in any programs.
You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your child's participation at any time without
consequence. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to your child and no compensation is offered
for participation. Group results of this study will be available in July upon request. If you have any
questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 392-0726 ext. 288 or my faculty supervisor, Dr.
Smith, at 392-0701 ext. 247. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be
directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433.
Elizabeth L. Hardman
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child,
, to participate in Elizabeth Hardman’s study of children’s moral reasoning. I have
received a copy of this description.
Parent / Guardian Date
2nd Parent / Witness Date

163
Assent Script 2
(Audiotaped Interviews)
My name is Elizabeth Hardman and I am a student at the University of Florida. I would like to tell you
some stories and then ask you some questions about what you think the character in the story ought to do. I
will be the only one to hear your answers and I will not tell any one what you say. If you tell me about any
abuse, however, I must report it. You may stop at any time and you do not have to answer any questions
you don’t want to answer. I am going to audiotape our interview as a part of the study. Do you agree to
participate?
I would like to audiotape our interview. Do you mind if I tape our interview?

APPENDIX B
RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS

MORAL THEME INVENTORY
(Narvaez et aL, 1999)
165

166
SCHOOL
PARTICIPANT NUMBER

167
We are interested in finding out what you think about four stories,
two today and two next time. We will be playing a tape of someone
reading each story as you read along. After reading each story, we
will ask you to think about the most important moral message of the
story. Then we will ask you questions about the story. Let's go
through an example of what you will do. First, you will follow a
story while a tape of it is being played. Second, we will ask you some
questions to answer on your own. Here is the example.
The Monkey and the Rabbit
Long ago in the deep jungle, Monkey and Rabbit were sharing a meal.
Monkey was feasting on ripe yellow bananas while Rabbit munched on juicy
green leaves. While they ate, each practiced the habits most natural to him.
Monkey scratched; first his head, then his chest, then his arms and, of
course, his legs. He scratched and scratched during the entire meal. While
Monkey scratched, Rabbit turned his head; first to the right, then to the left,
then behind him, and then above. He was on the lookout for an enemy
attack, and all through the meal he could not keep still.
Finally Monkey said, "Please stop turning away from me when I'm
talking. It's not polite." "Look who's complaining about good manners,"
said Rabbit. "You've been scratching the whole time. Scratching is more
impolite than looking for enemies."
Then they decided to make a bet. The Monkey would stop scratching
and the Rabbit would stop looking around. The one who moved first would
have to feed the other for a week.
So they sat facing each other, and for a few minutes it was easy. But
as time went by, staying still became harder and harder. Monkey itched so
badly that he felt like screaming! Rabbit was so frightened of his enemies
that he was trembling! Finally Monkey suggested that they tell each other
stories to pass the time.
Monkey started to tell about when he got separated from his mother as
an infant and nearly got killed. First he was hit by a branch on the head;
then he ran into a bee's nest and got stung all over; and then he fell and hurt
his leg. As he told each part of the story, he scratched the places where he
got hurt. It felt so good to scratch.
Rabbit realized that Monkey was trying to trick him and said, "Now
I'll tell you a story." He told about the night he watched his brothers and
sisters while his mother was out. It was so dark that every sound made him

168
jump. As he described the sounds, he turned his head to look in the direction
of the sound he had heard.
Monkey began laughing when he realized what Rabbit was doing.
Then Rabbit began to laugh. They decided to call off the bet and to be
friends with each other as they were.
Take a moment to think about the message of this story. What do you
think the author would like you to learn about getting along with
others? Think about what would be the best lesson from this story
about getting along with others.
The researchers think that the best message of this story is "Accept
others as they are."

169
QUESTIONS
First, we will ask you some True-False questions about the story. Circle
"True" if the statement is true about the story or circle "False" if the
statement is false about the story. Answer these questions without
looking back at the story.
True False 1. Monkey and Rabbit were enemies.
True False 2. Rabbit was never afraid.
Next, please read the following three stories. As you read each one, you
will decide how well its message matches the best message from "The
Monkey and the Rabbit" and you will mark your answer below the
story.
Story A
Deep in the jungle lived two good friends, a pig and a bird. The pig
worked very hard to find food. All day the pig snorted and sniffed around
for fruits to eat. The pig was a messy eater. She usually left scraps of fruit
around after finishing a meal. Unlike the pig, the bird did not have to work
hard to find food. She simply followed the pig and nibbled on the scraps the
pig left behind. The pig did not mind that the bird ate the scraps of food that
she had worked so hard to get. Why? Because the bird kept the pig
company all day and sang as the pig sniffed out their next meal.
Very much
the same
About So-so
the same
Different
Very
different

170
Story B
Rover was a family dog. He was the only pet in the house and loved
his lazy days of sleeping on the front porch. Then one day the family
brought home a kitten. The kitten loved to run around and play all day.
Rover could no longer sleep on the porch because the kitten was always
playing there. The kitten didn't like Rover because he would just lay around
and not play with her. The kitten wished that Rover was more playful and
Rover wished the kitten would take more naps. One day the Kitten went to
the doctor for a checkup. While she was gone, Rover missed her and she
missed Rover. When she got back, Rover wasn't so upset with her playing
and she didn't mind so much his napping.
Very much About So-so Different Very
the same the same different
Story C
In the reptile house at the zoo, there lived a snake and a lizard. One
day they shared a meal. The snake ate worms and the lizard ate green bugs.
They made a bet about who could eat the most. While they ate, they talked
about their lives when they were young. Lizard laughed at Snake's stories
and Snake laughed at Lizard's stories. When they were finished eating, they
couldn't figure out who had eaten more so they went off to play.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different

171
Next you will mark which of the three stories above has a message that
most closely matches the best message of "The Monkey and the
Rabbit."
Circle the title: Story A Story B Story C
Story B is circled because it has the same message, "Accept others as
they are" as does "The Monkey and the Rabbit."
Next, we will present several messages that people have suggested to be
the message of "The Monkey and the Rabbit." You will mark how good
a match each message is with what you think is the best message of
"The Monkey and the Rabbit."
1. Don't try to change others.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
2. Be alert,
you may get tricked.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
3. Accept others as they are
and don't try to change them.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different

172
4. Monkeys and rabbits make rude friends.
©
© © ©
©
Very much
About So-so Different
Very
the same
the same
different
Then we will list the possible messages again. You will CIRCLE the
number of the TWO messages that you think most closely match the
best message from "The Monkey and the Rabbit". Remember to circle
two.
1. Don't try to change others.
2. Be alert, you may get tricked.
3. Accept others as they are and don't try to change them.
4. Monkeys and rabbits make rude friends.
Number 1 and number 3 are circled because they are the closest
matches to what the researchers think is the best message of "The
Monkey and the Rabbit," "Accept others as they are."
Do you have any questions about what we would like you to do? Please
ask the researcher NOW. After your questions, please wait until
everyone is ready. Then we will ask you to turn the page and follow
along as we play a recording of the first story.

173
Jed
Jed waved goodbye to his mother, pulled the door shut, and sighed.
He had a lot to do. But he was hungry so he went to the refrigerator and
took the leftover pizza. He drank another quart of milk. He also ate some
chocolate ice cream. He seemed to be hungry all the time. As he wiped his
mouth on his sweatshirt, he thought that he should get started on the chores
while his baby sister was still napping.
It was Saturday and his mother was off to her university class. She
was taking classes to become a nurse. This was the weekend for his dad to
be on duty as a cop. So Jed was in charge of the house for the next four
hours. That included not only his sister, but making dinner, vacuuming the
living room, cleaning his room, and brushing the dog— who was shedding
hair all over the house. He was also supposed to prepare the cans and bottles
for recycling —the pickup was on Monday. After taking some frozen
chicken out of the freezer to thaw, he decided to brush the dog.
The dog followed him out the front door into the warm air. He was an
old sheep dog. They called him "Dog" because he would come when they
said it. Jed sat down on the steps and began to brush him. Dog cooperated
by sitting on top of Jed's feet. Jed kept quiet so he could hear his sister, if
she woke up.
When Jed was almost finished, Lance, his friend who lived across the
street, came over tossing his football.
"Hey, Jed, want to play football? We're getting a bunch of kids
together to play at the park."
"Naw, I've got chores to do."
"He's always working, Lance. But I'll play!" The call came from next
door where Kou lived. Kou came out of his front door, "I'll go for long one,
Lance!"
Lance threw the football ahead of Kou as he dashed into the next yard.
Kou dove and barely caught it. He was still learning the game after having
arrived from Vietnam only a year ago. His throw was wobbly. "I have to
work on it," he said as he sat down on the sidewalk.
"What do you have to do, Jed?" Lance asked.
"Oh, just some cleaning, dinner..." he mumbled.
"Wouldn't you rather go play? We could come back in an hour and
you could do all that stuff then," Lance suggested.
"Yeah, but..." Jed couldn't think of anything to say. He really wanted
to play football. It was always fun hanging out with friends and playing.
Maybe he could just buy pizza for the family dinner. And he could clean his

174
room Sunday night, instead of watching TV with the family. He started to
brush the rest of the dog as fast as he could.
"I'll get my bike," Lance yelled as he ran across the street.
"Get your things. I will finish,” Kou urged as he took the brush out of
his hand.
Jed stepped inside and started up the stairs. Then he remembered his
sister. He would wake her up and take her along in the stroller. He went
upstairs and into her room. She was sound asleep in her crib. He looked at
his watch. She had been asleep for only an hour. She usually slept two
hours. If he woke her up now, she'd probably be crabby the rest of the day.
So what, he thought, his mother would have to deal with it.
He looked in the closet for the diaper bag and filled it with diapers,
wetwipes and a change of clothes. He got a jacket from his room and then
went back to the crib. He leaned over her, and then he stopped. He was
supposed to be taking care of her. She wasn't supposed to be doing things
for him—like losing her nap so he could have fun. He stepped back. His
mom was counting on him to take care of things. He put his jacket back and
walked downstairs and outside. He sat down on the steps and took the brush
from Kou. He started brushing the dog again.
"Aren't you going?" asked Kou.
"No, I can't. It's not fair to my sister if I wake her up."
Kou looked at him and nodded, "I understand."
When Lance came out of his garage, Kou called out. "I'll get my
jacket, one minute!" Kou ran to his house.
"Let's go, Dog, time to do the recycling bins." Jed held the door while
Dog lumbered in.
Take a moment to think about the message of this story. What do you
think the author would like you to learn about getting along with
others? Think about what would be the best lesson from this story
about getting along with others.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

175
QUESTIONS
Here are some True-False questions about the story, "Jed". Circle
"True" if the statement is true about the story or circle "False" if the
statement is false about the story. Answer these questions without
looking back at the story.
True False 1. Kou was a good football player.
True False 2. Jed spent the day with his friends.
True False 3. At first, Jed was going to take his sister in the stroller to the
park.
True False 4. Kou went to the park with Lance.
True False 5. Jed brushed the dog on the front steps.
True False 6. Jed's parents were home that day.
True False 7. Jed had to prepare dinner.
True False 8. Jed played football with his friends that day.
True False 9. Dog didn't like getting brushed.
True False 10. Lance lived across the street.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

176
Please read the following four stories. As you read each one, decide how
well its message matches the best message from "Jed."
Story A
When Jed arrived at school for the first day of the year, his homeroom
teacher asked him to help a new student get comfortable in the school. It
turned out to be Kou's cousin who had just arrived in the country. He was in
the same grade as Jed but Kou was in a different grade. That day in school
Jed went from class to class and introduced Kou's cousin to his friends.
They saw Lance in English class. The bell rang and the three of them went
off to lunch together. They were all very hungry. Jed and Lance pulled out
their lunch money. Jed noticed that Kou's cousin did not have any money so
he bought a lunch for him.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
About
So-so
Different
Very
the same
the same
different
Story B
"Be sure not to wake up Angela while I'm gone. She needs to sleep
for at least two hours. Bye, sweetheart!" Vinnie's mom called as she left for
her weekly class. Now Vinnie had the house to himself. He smiled and
thought about starting his favorite activity—cooking. He decided to make
spaghetti sauce. As he was working in the kitchen, the doorbell rang. Vinnie
opened the door. It was his friend, Manolo. "Want to go to the mall?"
Manolo asked. "Heather is driving." Vinnie liked to go hang out at the mall
and he never turned down a chance. But today he wanted to make a good
spaghetti dinner. "No, thanks, I'm into cooking now. Later, okay?" Manolo
left and Vinnie went back to the spaghetti sauce.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
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Different
Very
different

177
Story C
It was a typical Saturday in Jonny's house. His mom was working in
the basement and his dad was shoveling snow. Jonny did his homework and
then felt like playing basketball. He set up a basket on the refrigerator and
started playing with the Nerf ball. On one of his shots he bumped the kitchen
table, knocked over the sugar bowl and broke it. His mother came in the
kitchen and asked what had happened. Jonny told her that he had knocked
over the sugar bowl. "Oh, were you cleaning the kitchen?" his mother
asked. "No, I was playing basketball." His mother replied, "You know you
are not supposed to play in here, but I am glad you told me the truth. I'll get
you the broom."
©
© ©
©
©
Very much
About So-so
Different
Very
the same
the same
different
Story D
Megan looked out the window of the store where she worked. Her
boss had left for an hour so she was in charge. She looked at the ice cream
store nearby and got hungry for a strawberry cone. Maybe she could run
quickly and get one. If she waited until after work, the shop would be
closed. Megan checked her watch. Her boss would not be back for a while.
She could run and get one and he would never know it. She grabbed the key
to lock the door. As she headed for the door, she passed the stacks of soup
and noodles she was supposed to be putting on the shelves. If she left her
work undone, her boss might not ever trust her again. So she put the key
back and began to unpack the tomato soup.
Very much
the same
©
©
©
©
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different

178
Now mark which of the four stories above has a message that most
closely matches the best message of "Jed". You may look back at the 4
stories and what you thought of their messages.
Circle one: Story A Story B Story C Story D
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

179
Below are several possible messages for "Jed". Mark how good a match
each message is with what you think is the best message from "Jed".
1. Do the things that you have been told to do or you might get into
trouble.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
2. Nice kids do their chores.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
3. Don't let temptations keep you from fulfilling your responsibilities.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
4. Think of your family before friends.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
5. Intermittently relationships interfere with maintaining a sanitary
domicile.
Very much About So-so Different Very
the same the same different

180
6. Plan your day so that you can do what you want to do.
Very much About So-so Different Very
the same the same different
7. Sometimes you have to wait to do things you like because your work
is more important.
Very much About So-so Different
the same the same
Very
different
Below, we list the possible messages again. Please CIRCLE the number
of the TWO messages that you think most closely match the best
message from "Jed". Circle two.
1. Do the things that you have been told to do or you might get into trouble.
2. Nice kids do their chores.
3. Don't let temptations keep you from fulfilling your responsibilities.
4. Think of your family before friends.
5. Intermittently relationships interfere with maintaining a sanitary domicile.
6. Plan your day so that you can do what you want to do.
7. Sometimes you have to wait to do things you like because your work is
more important.
Make sure to circle only two messages from the list.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

181
Kim
Kim pushed against the heavy boxes as they leaned towards her on the
sharp curve. Her dad noticed that the boxes were sliding so he slowed down
on the freeway ramp. Her dad had lost his job. They were moving to
another city where jobs grew on trees. So people said. They were headed
for Minneapolis.
The car was packed with everything they owned. The dinner table and
chairs were on top of the car and on top of two mattresses. They gave away
the old sofa and stuffed chair before they left Detroit. But they still had the
room-sized rug. It drooped off the roof over the back window. Every
couple of hours they stopped to tighten the ropes and push the rug and
mattresses back from crawling off the car.
Kim had her own box. It had her clothes, her favorite (and only) doll,
the dancing ballerina jewelry box she got for her birthday, and the fancy
gold vanity set she inherited from her rich godmother when she died. The
comb had lost some of its teeth, but the brush and mirror still looked new.
She felt a punch on her arm.
"Stop it, Martin!"
Her little brother squirmed next to her, having gotten bored with
rereading the one comic book he owned. He looked like his father, a
Puertorican mix of many races—curly hair, blue eyes, olive skin. Kim
looked like her mother, a Filipino-Chinese. She had almond eyes, straight
dark hair and olive skin. Their parents had given them "good American
names" so that they would not be teased in school.
"That looks like a good place," Mrs. Perez said softly as they found a
small gas station with a grassy lot behind.
Mr. Perez pulled into the gas station. "Everybody out for a stretch!"
He didn't have to convince anyone. They all jumped right out.
As her dad filled the gas tank, Kim leaned against the car. Martin was
off running and bouncing an old tennis ball in the grassy lot. She watched
him for a moment thinking about whether or not to join him. She decided
not to. She was tired of his company after sitting next to him in the car all
day long.
"You should get some exercise, girl! Here take this $20 and go pay
for the gas. You should get back $1.15."
Her dad was very careful with money. They didn't have much of it.
They barely had enough for gas to Minneapolis. The only thing they were
eating was baloney sandwiches made from day-old bread and thin slices of
baloney. Not even any ketchup! They would buy a carton of milk and a

182
carton of juice and pass them around while they ate the sandwiches. Martin
always spilled. Mom said it was because he had a small mouth.
Once inside the gas station store, she eyed the potato chips at the
counter but then looked away as her mouth watered. She handed the clerk
the $20 bill. As the clerk opened the cash drawer there was a loud crash in
the corner of the store. They heard a loud cry.
The clerk became alarmed. "It's my 3-year-old son." She had the 15
cents in her hand. She quickly reached for a bill, pushed it into Kim's hand
and went running to help her son. Kim watched. The boy was all right. He
had pulled down a stack of cereal boxes but didn't look hurt.
Kim went outside. Her father was playing catch with Martin and her
mother was still in line for the bathroom. She looked at the change in her
hand. Then she looked again. Instead of $1.15 she had $5.15. The clerk
had given her a five-dollar bill instead of a one-dollar bill.
She thought of the candy that she could buy with the extra money. She
could go in the store and pretend she had forgotten to buy fruit rollups,
potato chips and pop. The whole family could have a treat, something they
rarely had money for. Or she could go ask for change, give her dad the
$1.15 and then save the $4 for herself. She wanted to buy a Teacher Barbie
doll because she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.
She couldn't decide, candy and treats now or save for the doll. Then
she heard her mother's voice in her head, "You are a Kwong. Kwongs know
that the path to success is self-control. Don't do what your feelings tell you
to do without thinking about it first. Stop and think. Plan for the future.
What you do today affects all your tomorrows." Kim decided not to buy the
treats.
She thought about the money. Then she heard her father's voice
inside her head from a time when his boss had given him too much money in
his paycheck: "If you want to be a good person, you should always try to be
honest. And you must always be honest because you are a Perez. We,
Perez, are all honest, good people. Everybody knows that."
Was she being dishonest by keeping money put in her hand by
someone she didn't even know? She would never see this clerk again. The
clerk didn't know the Kwongs or the Perez family and they didn't know her.
Did it really matter to be honest with people that you didn't know and didn't
know you? She entered the store and went to the counter and held out the
money to the clerk.
Later, when everyone was back in the car, Kim handed the money to
her father. "Here's the change, Papá. She gave me too much but I gave it
back."

183
"Good for you, sweetheart, good for you." Mr. Perez started up the
car and they drove out of the lot.
Martin said, "Let's play alphabet-there's an 'A'!"
"Okay, amorcito—I see a B'!" Kim responded. She smiled and felt
grownup.
Take a moment to think about the message of this story. What do you
think the author would like you to learn about getting along with
others? Think about what would be the best lesson from this story
about getting along with others.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

184
QUESTIONS
Here are some True-False questions about the story. Circle "True" if
the statement is true about the story or circle "False" if the statement is
false about the story. Answer these questions without looking back at
the story.
True False 1. Kim didn't want to pay for the gas.
True False 2. Kim wanted to buy snacks.
True False 3. Kim's father stopped the car at a grocery store.
True False 4. The family planned to go out for lunch.
True False 5. Kim's parents were not from Minnesota.
True False 6. Kim's father wanted the children to stay in the car.
True False 7. Kim played the alphabet game with her father.
True False 8. Kim's father was upset that she didn't keep the extra money.
True False 9. Some boxes fell in the store.
True False 10. The clerk was worried about her son.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

185
Please read the following four stories. As you read each one, decide how
well its message matches the best message from "Kim".
Story A
For summer vacation Dawn was going to visit her aunt Sandy who
was sick. It would take 3 days to get there. Dawn prepared for her trip very
carefully, making sure she had enough money for gas. She planned ahead
for each stop she would need to make. On the second day of driving Dawn
noticed a gas station ahead. It wasn't where she expected it. She had
planned to stop at the gas station 20 miles from there. Dawn looked at her
gas gauge. She knew she had enough gas to make it the 20 miles but not
much farther. She decided that she should get gas at this station just to be
safe. She pulled over and filled the gas tank. While she was paying for the
gas, the cashier told her that the gas station 20 miles away was closed. Dawn
was glad she had stopped there.
Very much
the same
© ©
©
About So-so
Different
Very
the same
different

186
Story B
Rhonda helped her mother unload the bags of groceries from their car.
They had spent the day picking up groceries for the poor. Now, at dinner
time, they were delivering them to poor families. This family was the last
one. After they took the groceries inside, her mother sent Rhonda back to
the car while she finished inside. Rhonda reached to shut the trunk. Then
she noticed a tiny bag in the comer that they had missed. She looked inside.
It contained several chocolate bars. Her stomach growled. The candy
would fit into the pockets of her big winter coat. The family wasn't
expecting the candy, so they would never know if she kept it. But it had
been given for the family and therefore belonged to them,
inside to deliver the bag.
She ran quickly
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
Story C
When Kim's family arrived in Minneapolis, they went to stay with
Kim's uncle. Martin and Kim were happy to finally get out of the car. Kim
took her box of things inside. Martin took his ball and comic book to show
his cousins. The uncle and his family thought that Kim's family might be
hungry. So they made them a big dinner. Kim and her family ate until they
were full and forgot all about baloney sandwiches. After dinner, Kim and
Martin played games with their cousins.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different

187
Story D
The Nicholson family was driving to Detroit. Theresa was not
looking forward to moving. She didn't want to have to meet new friends, but
she thought meeting new people would be better than hanging out with Chet,
her brother. Chet was starting to bother her big time—especially after being
in the car with him for so long.
Mr. Nicholson finally pulled off the highway so that they could eat
dinner in a small town. They had an enjoyable meal at the town cafe. After
receiving the bill for their food, Mr. Nicholson gave Theresa some money.
"Sweetheart, will you please go pay the bill for our food? You should
receive $4.50 back. Be sure to count your change." Theresa loved having
adult responsibilities. She happily took the money from her father and went
to pay the bill.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
About
So-so
Different
Very
the same
the same
different
Now mark which of the four stories above has a message that most
closely matches the best message of "Kim". You may look back at the 4
stories and what you thought of their messages.
Circle the title: Story A Story B Story C Story D
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

188
Below are several possible messages for "Kim". Mark how good a
match each message is with what you think is the best message of
"Kim".
1. Good children don't embarrass their parents.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
2. If you give up what isn't yours now, your parents will reward you
later.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
3. If you think of others first instead of your family, your family may
suffer.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
4. Monetary interchanges need to be monitored scrupulously.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different
5. Treat all
people with honesty no matter what tempts you.
©
©
©
©
©
Very much
the same
About
the same
So-so
Different
Very
different

189
6. You might get caught if you keep money that isn't yours.
Very much About So-so Different Very
the same the same different
7. You shouldn't keep what isn't yours even from strangers.
Very much About So-so Different Very
the same the same different
Below, we list the possible messages again. Please CIRCLE the number
of the two messages that you think most closely match the best message
from "Kim". Circle two.
1. Good children don't embarrass their parents.
2. If you give up what isn't yours now, your parents will reward you later.
3. If you think of others first instead of your family, your family may suffer.
4. Monetary interchanges need to be monitored scrupulously.
5. Treat all people with honesty no matter what tempts you.
6. You might get caught if you keep money that isn't yours.
7. You shouldn't keep what isn't yours even from strangers.
Make sure to circle only two messages from the list.
PLEASE WAIT FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS TO MOVE AHEAD

FEELINGS QUESTIONNAIRE
(Jacobs & Blumer, 1984)

191
FEELINGS QUESTIONNAIRE
PPS-1
DIRECTIONS: A number of statements which boys and girls use to describe
themselves are given below. Read each statement carefully and decide how you feel
right now. Then put an "X" in the box in front of the word or phrase which best
describes how you feel. There are no right or wrong answers. Do not spend too much
time on any one statement. Remember, find the word or phrase which best describes
how you feel right now, at this very moment.
1. I feel upset â–¡
2. I feel like banging on the table... â–¡
3. I feel pleasant L.U
4. I feel angry Iy l
5. I feel scared â–¡
6. I feel like yelling at somebody... â–¡
7. I feel worried L_J
8. I feel grouchy â–¡
9. I feel happy [ID
10. I feel like breaking things â–¡
11.1 feel good â–¡
Ivery much so
Li somewhat
â–¡ not at all
Ivery much so
l—1 somewhat
â–¡ not at all
1 very much so
â–¡ somewhat
â–¡ not at all
Ivery much so
â–¡ somewhat
â–¡ not at all
Ivery much so
CD somewhat
â–¡ not at all
1 very much so
1—1 somewhat
â–¡ not at all
Ivery much so
[-D somewhat
Ll not at all
PLEASE PROCEED TO THE NEXT PAGE.
COPYRIGHT O 1984 by G. A. Jacobs. Dwetoped In coüabonfljon wttJi C. Blumer.

14. I feel like hitting someone...
ED very much so
I I somewhat
I—I not at all
17. 1 feel terrified
18. I feel like swearing....
Cl very much so
[d somewhat
ED not at all
19. I feel cheerful
CD somewhat
CD not at aU
COPYRIGHT O 1984 by G. A. Jacobs. Dovatopad In coCaboralion with C. Blumer.

FEELINGS QUESTIONNAIRE
PPS-2
DIRECTIONS: A number of statements which boys and girls use to describe
themselves are given below. Read each statement carefully and decide if it is
hardly-ever, or sometimes, or often true for you. Then for each statement, put an *X* in
the box In front of the word which seems to describe you best. There are no right or
wrong answers. Do not spend too much time on any one statement. Remember,
choose the word which seems to describe how you usually feel.
â–¡.
â–¡.
â–¡.
â–¡.
â–¡ s
â–¡ s
8. When I get mad I say nasty things...10 hardly-ever Cl sometimes
9. I worry about school I 1 hardly-ever I—I sometimes
10. I get angry very quickly.. I0 hardly-ever I0 sometimes
PLEASE PROCEED TO THE NEXT PAGE.
I get angry quickly
....I—I hardly-ever
It is difficult for me to face my.
I get angry when I have to wait
for someone because they have
Unimportant thoughts run
through my mind and bother me...
1—1 often
1—1 often
i I often
1—1 often
^1 often
â–¡
often
Cl often
10 often
10 often
L—I often
COPYRIGHTO 1964 by G. A. Jacote. Developed h coBaboratíon with C. Blumer.

1 have trouble deciding what to do
...1 1 hardly-ever
LJ sometimes
t—i often
1 feel bothered when no one
notices that 1 did something well....
...â–¡hardly-ever
â–¡ sometimes
t—J often
1 get mad too quickly
...1 1 hardly-ever
â–¡ sometimes
â–¡ often
15. I wony about things that may
happen r
16. I get angry when I'm told I'm
wrong in front of others ,
17. It is hard for me to fall
asleep at night
18. When I get so angry I don't know
what to do. I feel like hitting
someone
19. I wony about what others
think of me
20. I feel mad when I do something
well and my parents or teacher
â–¡ sometimes
â–¡ sometimes
â–¡ sometimes
I—I sometimes
hardly-ever â–¡ sometimes
..( l hardly-ever
..â–¡ hardly-ever
—I hardly-ever
J—l hardly-ever
â–¡
â–¡often
â–¡ often
I—] often
â–¡ often
â–¡ often
say I didn't do a good job I—I hardly-ever LJ sometimes
â–¡ h
â–¡ s
â–¡
often
Form 8110597
COPYRIGHT 01984 by G. A. Jacote. Developed In coltaborafion wñh C. Humor.

FEELINGS QUESTIONNAIRE
PAES-3
DIRECTIONS: A number of statements which boys and girts use to describe
themselves when they feel angry or very angry are given below. Read each statement
carefully and decide if it is hardly-ever, or sometimes, or often true for you. Then for
each statement, put an "X" in the box in front of the word which seems to describe how
you feel or act when you are angry or very angry. There are no right or wrong
answers. Do not spend too much time on any one statement Remember, choose the
word which seems to describe how you usually feel or act when you are angry or very
angry.
1 talk to someone until 1 feel better â–¡ hardly-ever
â–¡ sometimes
1—1 often
1 do things like slam doors
1 ! hardly-ever
1 1 sometimes
1—(often
1 attack whatever it is that
makes me very angry
— D hardly-ever
1 1 sometimes
â–¡ often
1 get mad inside but 1 don't show it _dl hardly-ever
â–¡ sometimes
â–¡ often
10. I do something totally
different until I calm down
hardly-ever IZ] sometimes â–¡ often
PLEASE PROCEED TO THE NEXT PAGE
Copyright 01987 by CIA. Jacobs. Developed in coiaboration wflh M. Phelps. B. Rohrs, and T. Hoenie.

12. I can stop myself from losing
13. I try to calmly settle the problem...
[Zlhardly-ever
I l sometimes
EH often
15. I*m afraid to show my anger
I—lhardly-ever
I—l sometimes
â–¡ often
Rxm al 10597
CopyrigfH O 1957 by GJL Jacobs. Developed In cdaboration with M_ Phdps, B. Rohrs, «nd T. Hoenie.

197
MORAL DILEMMA INTERVIEW

198
INTERVIEW I
Kohlbergian Dilemmas
(Colby & Kohlberg, 1987b)
Heinz’s Dilemma
Part 1
In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one
medicine that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist
in the same town had recently discovered. The medicine was expensive to make, but the
druggist was charging ten times what it cost him to make the medicine. He paid $400 for
the radium and charged $4000 for a small dose. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went
to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only
get together about $2000, which is half of what the medicine cost. He told the druggist
that his wife was dying, and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the
druggist said, “No, I discovered the medicine and I’m going to make money from it.” So
having tried every legal means, Heinz gets desperate and considers breaking into the
man’s story to steal the medicine for his wife.
1. Tell me what this story is about.
2. Should he steal the medicine? Why or why not?
3. Is it actually right or wrong for him to steal the medicine? Why is it right or wrong?
4. Does Heinz have a duty of obligation to steal the medicine? Why or why not?
5. [If the child favors stealing] If Heinz doesn’t love his wife, should he steal the drug
for her? Or [If the child favors not stealing] does it make a difference whether or not
he loves his wife? Why or why not?
6. Suppose the person dying is not his wife but a stranger. Should Heinz steal the
medicine for the stranger? Why or why not?
7. [If child favors stealing] Suppose it is a pet animal he loves. Should Heinz steal to
save the pet animal? Why or why not?
8. Is it important for people to do everything they can to save another’s life? Why or
why not?
9. It is against the law for Heinz to steal. Does that make it morally wrong? Why or why
not?
10. In general, should people try to do everything they can to obey the law? Why or why
not?

199
11. How does this apply to what Heinz should do?
12. In thinking over the dilemma, what would you say is the most responsible thing for
Heinz to do? Why?
Heinz’s Dilemma
Part 2
Heinz did break into the store. He stole the medicine and gave it to his wife. In the
newspapers the next day there was an account of the robbery. Mr. Brown, a police
officer who knew Heinz, read the account. He remembered seeing Heinz running away
from the store and realized that it was Heinz who stole the medicine. Mr. Brown
wonders whether he should report that Heinz was the robber.
1. Should Officer Brown report Heinz for stealing? Why or why not?
2. Suppose Officer Brown was a close friend of Heinz, should he then report him? Why
or why not?
Heinz’s Dilemma
Part 3
Officer Brown did report Heinz. Heinz was arrested and brought to court. A jury was
selected. The jury’s job is to find whether a person is innocent or guilty of committing a
crime. The jury finds Heinz guilty. It is up to the judge to determine the sentence.
3. Should the judge give Heinz some sentence, or should he suspend the sentence and let
Heinz go free? Why is that best?
4. Thinking in terms of society, should people who break the law be punished? Why or
why not?
5. How does this apply to how the judge should decide?
6. Heinz was doing what his conscience told him when he stole the drug. Should a
lawbreaker be punished if he is acting out of conscience? Why or why not?
7. Thinking back over the dilemma, what would you say is the most responsible thing
for the judge to do? Why? (p. 229-231)
Louise’s Delimma
Judy was a twelve-year-old girl. Her mother promised her that she could go to a special
rock concert coming to their town if she saved up from baby-sitting and lunch money so
she would have enough money to buy a ticket to the concert. She managed to save up the

200
$15 dollars it cost plus another $5. But then her mother changed her mind and told Judy
that she had to spend the money on new clothes for school. Judy was disappointed and
decided to go to the concert anyway. She bought a ticket and told her mother that she
had only been able to save $5. That Saturday she went to the performance and told her
mother that she was spending the day with a friend. A week passed without her mother
finding out. Judy then told her older sister, Louise, that she had gone to the performance
and had lied to her mother about it. Louise wonders whether to tell their mother what
Judy did.
1. Tell me what this story is about.
2. Should Louise, the older sister, tell their mother that Judy had lied about the money or
should she keep quiet? Why or why not?
3. In wondering whether to tell, Louise thinks of the fact that Judy is her sister. Should
that make a difference in Louise’s decision? Why or why not?
4. Does telling have anything to do with being a good daughter? Why or why not?
5. Is the fact that Judy earned the money herself important in this situation? Why or why
not?
6. The mother promised Judy she could go to the concert if she earned the money. Is the
fact that the mother promised the most important thing in the situation? Why or why
not? Why in general should a promise be kept?
7. Is it important to keep a promise to someone you don’t know well and probably won’t
see again? Why or why not?
8. What do you think is the most important thing a mother should be concerned about in
her relationship to her daughter?
9. Why is this the most important thing
10. In general, what should be the authority of a mother over her daughter? Why?
11. What do you think is the most important thing a daughter should be concerned about
in her relationship to her mother?
12. Why is that the most important thing?
13. In thinking back over the dilemma, what would you say is the most responsible thing
for Louise to do in this situation? Why? (p. 234-235)

201
INTERVIEW II
Piagetian Dilemmas
(Piaget, 1932/1965)
Father’s Pen
A boy was playing in his room, while his daddy was working in town. After a little while
the boy thought he would like to draw. But he had no paper. Then he remembered that
there were some lovely white sheets of paper in one of the drawers of his father’s desk.
So he went quite quietly to look for them. He found them and took them away. When the
father came home he found that his desk was untidy and finally discovered that someone
had stolen his paper. He went straight into the boy’s room, and there he saw the floor
covered with sheets of paper that were all scribbled over with colored chalk. Then the
father was very angry and gave his boy a good whipping.
Now I shall tell you a story that is nearly the same, but not quite. This time it ends
differently.
A boy was playing in his room, while his daddy was working in town. After a little while
the boy thought he would like to draw. But he had no paper. Then he remembered that
there were some lovely white sheets of paper in one of the drawers of his father’s desk.
So he went quite quietly to look for them. He found them and took them away. When the
father came home he found that his desk was untidy and finally discovered that someone
had stolen his paper. He went straight into the boy’s room, and there he saw the floor
covered with sheets of paper that were all scribbled over with colored chalk. The father
did not punish him. He just explained to him that it wasn’t right of him. He said, “When
you’re not at home, when you’ve gone to school if I were to go and take your toys, you
wouldn’t like it. So when I’m not there, you mustn’t go and take my paper either. It is
not nice for me. It isn’t right to do that.
Now a few days later these two boys were each of them playing in their yards. The boy
who had been punished was in his yard, and the one who had not been punished was
playing in his yard. And then each of them found a pen. It was their fathers’ pen and
each of them remembered that his father had said that he had lost his pen and that it was a
pity because he wouldn’t be able to find it again. So then they thought that if they were
to steal the pen, no one would ever know, and there would be no punishment.
Well now, one of the boys kept the pen for himself, and the other took it back to his
father. Guess which one took it back—the one who had been well punished for having
taken the paper or the one who was only talked to?”
1. First, tell me what happened in the story.

202
2. Which one brought the pen back to his father?
3. Then what happened, did he do it again or not?
4. And the one the father didn’t (or did) punish. Did he do it again?
5. If you had been the daddy, when they stole the paper, would you have punished them
or explained?
6. Which is the nicest daddy, the one who punishes or the one who explains?
7. Which one is fairest, the one who punishes or the one who explains?
8. If you had been the boy, which would you have thought was fairest, to be punished or
to have things explained to you?
9. Suppose you had been punished would you have done it again? Explained?
10. Which of the two boys didn’t do it again?
11. What is the good of punishing?
12. What is the good of explaining? (pp. 219-221)
Mother’s Scissors
A mother tells her three boys that they mustn’t play with the scissors while she is out.
But, as soon as she is gone the first one says, “Let’s play with the scissors.” Then the
second boy goes to get some newspapers to cut out. The third one says, “No, Mother said
we mustn’t. I will not touch the scissors.” When the mother comes home, she sees all the
bit of cut-up newspaper on the floor. So she sees that someone has been touching her
scissors, and she punishes all three boys. Was that fair?
1. Tell me what happened in this story.
2. What do you think of that?
3. Was it fair or not fair to punish all three of them? Why?
4. Who should have been punished?
5. How do you think the mother punished the children?
6. What would you have done if they were your children? (pp. 234-236)

203
Doing Chores
Once there was a camp of Boy Scouts (or Girl Scouts). Each one had to do his/her bit to
help with the work and leave things tidy. One had to do the shopping, another washed up,
another brought in wood or swept the floor. One day there was no bread and the one who
did the shopping had already gone. So other Scoutmaster asked one of the Scouts who
had already done his/her job to go and fetch the bread. What did he/she do?
1. Tell what this story is about.
2. What did he/she do? Why?
3. Was it fair or not fair to have told her to go? Why? (pp. 277-279)
The Foolish Brother
Once, long ago, and in a place very far away from here, there was a father who had two
sons. One was very good and obedient. The other was a good sort, but he often did
foolish things. One day the father goes off on a trip and says to the first son, “You must
watch carefully, and when I come back you can tell me what your brother does.” The
father goes off on a trip and says to the first son, “You must watch carefully to see what
your brother does, and when I come back you shall tell me.” The father goes away and
the brother goes and does something foolish. When the father comes back he asks the
first boy to tell him everything. What ought the boy to do?
1. First, tell me happened in this story.
2. What should the boy say to the father?
3. Was it fair to tell (or not to tell)?
4. I know a little boy in the same story who said to his father, “Look here, it’s not my
business what my brother has done, ask him yourself.” Was he right to say this to his
father? Why?
5. Have you got a brother or sister?
6. Well let’s pretend that you had to stay in at recess for not finishing your work and
when you got home from school, your brother or sister said, “[child’s name] had to
stay in at recess today for not finishing his/her work.” Would it be right of him/her to
say that?
7. Do you know what a tattle-tale is?
8. Is it being a tattle-tale if your brother/sister tells your mother what happened to you at
school?

204
9. Would the good brother in my story be a tattle-tale if he told the father the foolish
things his brother had done? Why or why not? (p. 290)
The Long Walk
Two boys, a little one and a big one, once went for a long walk in the mountains. When
lunch time came they were very hungry and took their food out of their bags. But they
found that there was not enough for both of them. What should have been done? Give all
the food to the big boy or to the little one, or the same to both?
1. Tell me what happened in this story?
2. What should have been done?
3. Was it fair?
4. What would you have done if you were the big boy?
5. What would you expect if you were the little boy? (pp. 310-311)

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INTERVIEW III
The Box Car Children
(Warner, 1977)
Part 1
One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No
one knew where they had come from.
The baker’s wife saw them first, as they stood looking in at the window of her
store. The little boy was looking at the cakes, the big boy was looking at the loaves of
bread, and the two girls were looking at the cookies.
Now the baker’s wife did not like children. She did not like boys at all. So she
came to the front of the bakery and listened, looking very cross.
“The cake is good, Jessie,” the little boy said. He was about five years old.
“Yes, Benny,” said the big girl. “But bread is better for you. Isn’t it, Henry?”
“Oh, yes,” said Henry. “We must have some bread, and cake is not good for
Benny and Violet.”
“I like bread best, anyway,” said Violet. She was about ten years old, and she had
pretty brown hair and brown eyes.
“That is just like you, Violet,” said Henry, smiling at her, “Let’s go into the
bakery. Maybe they will let us stay here for the night.”
The baker’s wife looked at them as they came in.
“I want three loaves of bread, please,” said Jessie.
She smiled politely at the woman, but the woman did not smile. She looked at
Henry as he put his hand in his pocket for the money. She looked cross, but she sold him
the bread.
Jessie was looking around, too, and she saw a long red bench under each window
of the bakery. The benches had flat red pillows on them.
“Will you let us stay here for the night?” Jessie asked. “We could sleep on those
benches, and tomorrow we would help you wash the dishes and do things for you.”
Now the woman liked this. She did not like to wash dishes very well. She would
like to have a big boy to help her with her work.
“Where are your father and mother?” she asked.
‘They are dead,” said Henry.
“We have a grandfather in Greenfield, but we don’t like him,” said Benny.
Jessie put her hand over the little boy’s mouth before he could say more.
“Oh, Benny, keep still!” she said.
“Why don’t you like your grandfather?’ asked the woman.
“He is our father’s father, and he didn’t like our mother,” said Henry. “So we
don’t think he would like us. We are afraid he would be mean to us.”
“Did you ever see him?” asked the woman.
“No,” answered Henry.
“Then why do you think he would be mean to you?” asked the woman.
“Well, he never came to see us,” said Henry. “He doesn’t like us at all.”

206
“Where did you live before you came here?” asked the woman.
But not one of the four children would tell her (Warner, pp. 7-11).
1. Tell me what this story is about.
2. Should the children tell the woman who they are and where they are from? Why or
why not?
3. Is it actually right or wrong for the children to tell the woman who they are? Why is
it right or wrong?
4. [If they say it is right] If the woman is nice would it be right to tell her who they are
and where they are from? Why or why not? [If they say it is wrong] Does it make a
difference if the woman is nice? Why or why not?
5. Suppose the grandfather is nice. Should the children tell the woman who they are?
Why or why not.
6. Is it ever right for children to keep information from adults? Why or why not?
7. What do the children think the woman will do if they tell her who they are?
8. Is it right for them to keep the information from her? Why or why not?
Part 2
“We’ll get along all right,” said Jessie. “We want to stay here for only one night.”
“You may stay here tonight,” said the woman at last. “And tomorrow we’ll see
what we can do.”
Henry thanked her politely.
We are all pretty tired and hungry,” he said.
The children sat down on the floor. Henry cut one of the loaves of bread into four
pieces with his knife, and the children began to eat.
“Delicious!” said Henry.
“Well, I never!” said the woman.
She went into the next room and shut the door.
“I’m glad she is gone,” remarked Benny, eating. “She doesn’t like us.”
“Sh, Benny!” said Jessie. “She is good to let us sleep here.”
After supper the children lay down on their red benches, and Violet and Benny
soon went to sleep.
But Jessie and Henry could hear the woman talking to the baker.
She said, “I’ll keep the three older children. They can help me. But the little boy
must go to the Children’s Home. He is too little. I cannot take care of him.”
The baker answered, “Very well. Tomorrow I’ll take the little boy to the
Children’s Home. We’ll keep the others for awhile, but we must make them tell us who
their grandfather is.”

207
Jessie and Henry waited until the baker and his wife had gone to bed. Then they
sat up in the dark.
“Oh, Henry!” whispered Jessie. “Let’s run away from here!”
“Yes, indeed,” said Henry. “We’ll never let Benny go to a Children’s Home.
Never, never! We must be far away by morning, or they will find us. But we must not
leave any of our things here.”
Jessie sat still, thinking.
“Our clothes and a cake of soap and towels are in the big laundry bag,” she said.
“Violet has her little workbag. And we have two loaves of bread left. Have you your
knife and the money?”
“Yes,” said Henry. “I have almost four dollars.”
“You must carry Benny,” said Jessie. “He will cry if we wake him up. But I’ll
wake Violet.
“Sh, Violet! Come! We are going to run away again. If we don’t run away, the
baker will take Benny to a Children’s Home in the morning.”
The little girl woke up at once. She sat up and rolled off the bench. She did not
make any noise.
“What shall I do? She whispered softly.
“Carry this,” said Jessie. She gave her the workbag.
Jessie put the two loaves of bread into the laundry bag, and then she looked
around the room.
“All right,” she said to Henry. “Take Benny now.”
Henry took Benny in his arms and carried him to the door of the bakery. Jessie
took the laundry bag and opened the door very softly. All the children went out quietly.
They did not say a word. Jessie shut the door, and then they all listened. Everything was
very quiet. So the four children went down the street. (Warner, pp. 11-15).
1. Tell me what happened. What did the children decide to do?
2. Should they run away? Why or why not?
3. Is it right or wrong for them to run away? Why or why not?
4. Is it against the law for the children to run away?
5. If it is against the law, does that make it wrong? Why or why not?
6. In general, should children do everything they can to obey the law? Why or why not?
7. In general, should children do everything they can to obey adults? Why or why not?
Part 3
It was morning, but the sun was covered by clouds. [Jessie] sat up and looked all around
her, and then she looked at the sky. It seemed like night, for it was very dark. Suddenly
it began to thunder, and she saw that it was really going to rain.

208
“What shall we do? Where shall we go?” thought Jessie.
“Then she saw something ahead of her in the woods. It was an old boxcar.
“What a good house that will be in the rain!” she thought.
She ran over to the boxcar. There was no engine, and the track was old and rusty.
It was covered with grass and bushes because it had not been used for a long time.
“It is a boxcar,” Jessie said. “We can get into it and stay until it stops raining.
Henry took Benny’s hand, and they all ran through the woods after Jessie.
The stump of a big tree stood under the door of the boxcar and was just right for a
step. Jessie and Henry jumped upon the old dead stump and rolled back the heavy door
of the car. Henry looked in.
“There is nothing in here,” he said. “Come, Benny. We’ll help you up.”
Violet went in next, and, last of all, Jessie and Henry climbed in.
“What a beautifiil place!” said Violet.
“Henry!” cried Jessie. “Let’s live here!”
“Live here?” asked Henry.
“Yes! Why not?” said Jessie “This boxcar is a fine little house. It is dry and warm
in the rain.
“We could wash in the brook,” said Violet.
“Please, Henry,” begged Jessie. “We could have the nicest little home here, and
we could find some dishes, and make four beds and a table, and maybe chairs!” (Warner,
pp. 27-31)
Jessie laughed and laughed until she almost cried. Violet laughed until she did
cry.
Then she could not stop crying. She cried and cried. At last Jessie made up her
mind that Violet was really sick.
“You must go to bed, Violet,” she said. She ... put pine needles all around her
and under her. Then she wet a handkerchief in the cold water of the brook and laid it on
her little sister’s hot head.
“If Violet is very sick, she ought to go to the hospital,” said Jessie.
“Yes, I know that,” said Henry. “ And we don’t want her to go to a hospital if we
can help it. We should have to tell her name.”
“Yes,” said Jessie. “Then Grandfather could find us.”
The two older children sat up with Violet. They put cold water on her head. But
after dark Violet shook all over, and Jessie was frightened. She covered Violet all over
with pine needles, but still she shook. They could not get her warm (Warner, pp. 121-
122).
1. Tell me what happened. What is wrong with Violet?
2. Why don’t the children take Violet to the doctor?
3. Should they take her to a doctor? Why or why not.
4. What might happen if they don’t take Violet to the doctor?

209
5. What if getting a doctor for Violet means that Benny will have to go to the Children’s
Home and they will have to go live with their mean grandfather. Then what should
they do?
6. In thinking back over the story, what do you think is the most responsible thing for
the children to do? Why?

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Elizabeth Long Hardman was bom in 1949 and grew up in Forrest City, a small
Arkansas town located in the Mississippi Delta. Her father was Fletcher Long, a World
War II veteran and the prosecuting attorney for the 1st Judicial District and her mother,
Peggy, was a “stay at home” mom. Elizabeth shared her childhood with one brother and
three sisters in a typical 1950’s family.
Elizabeth graduated from Forrest City High School in 1967 and enrolled in the
College of Liberal Arts at the University of Arkansas. After two years, she enrolled in the
College of Education and began to work on a double major in elementary and special
education. Elizabeth married John Christopher Hardman in 1970 and graduated from the
University of Arkansas in 1971 with a B.S.E. in elementary and special education,
majoring in mental retardation. Following graduation, Elizabeth moved to Helena,
Arkansas and taught special education classes and affiliated with the local Association for
Retarded Citizens (ARC).
After two years of teaching Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Emily Fletcher,
and decided to quit teaching for a while. During this time she continued with the ARC,
serving on its board of directors and as an association officer for many years. She also
consulted with the local school district about starting classes for students with learning
disabilities and worked as a substitute for the Phillips County School for Exceptional
Students. She helped write a grant to fund an outreach program for at risk preschool
children at the Phillips County School for Exceptional Students and served on a
220

221
school board appointed committee to investigate the equity of a tracking system used by
the local high school. Her second child, John Christopher, was bom sixteen months after
her daughter’s birth.
In 1979, Elizabeth began to prepare herself to return to the classroom by enrolling
in a Master of Education program at the University of Mississippi. She graduated from
the University of Mississippi in 1981 majoring in learning disabilities. She spent one
more year as a special education teacher in Helen’s public school district and then moved
to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1983 where she accepted a job as a teacher in a private day
school for students who were seriously emotionally disturbed.
In 1986, Elizabeth moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she secured a position
working for the Arkansas Easter Seal Society as an Education/Habilitation Coordinator
for its residential center. After a year in Little Rock, the family moved to Jacksonville,
Arkansas, where she taught for the Pulaski County Special School District as a resource
room teacher. After five years in Jacksonville, the family moved to Eustis, Florida, where
Elizabeth quickly found a position as a special education teacher for the Lake County
Schools.
After putting her two children through college and teaching special education for
fifteen years, Elizabeth left the classroom and enrolled in the University of Florida with a
goal of obtaining a doctorate in special education. In 1997 she was awarded the College
of Education Fellowship as one of the top five applicants to the Graduate School of
Education. In 1999, Elizabeth was awarded the highly competitive American Educational
Research Association (AERA) Research Fellowship. In 2000, the U.S. Department of
Education funded her dissertation study with a grant of $20,000.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
1)
Ad'¿d.SUL
;n WV Smith, Chair
Stephen WV Smith, (
Professor of Special Education
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Professor of Educational Psychology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Hazel A/Jones
Associate Professor ofSpecial Education
1 certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
iUaMMXiii(r
Maureen A. Conroy
Associate Professor of Special Education

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is folly adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Distinguished Professor of Special Education
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Dean, Graduate School

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