The article duplicates a research method previously used by two of the current researchers George Bear and Herbert Richards in 1981 in their research “Moral reasoning and conduct problems in the classroom. ” Each of the 87 male and female participants were assessed for their individual levels of moral reasoning using Kohlberg’s Moral Judgment Interview, Form A by the research assistant. Their classroom behavior was assessed by their teachers using the Conduct Scale of the Behavior Problem Checklist.
One of the strengths of the research methodology was that the teachers were blind to the results of the Moral Judgment Interview. This ensured that the teachers did not make a judgment on students’ behaviors based on the assessment of moral reasoning. The scores from these two instruments were therefore independent. Additionally, to further decrease potential rater bias the twelve interview protocol were randomly selected and scored by an independent judge. The scores produced by the research assistant and the independent judge were compared and a high level of correlation was found.
Another strength is that there was pre-screening of research participants. Screening ensured equitable representation based on stage of moral reasoning, sex and grade level. The researchers justify eliminating the seven participants with stage one moral reasoning from data analysis on the grounds that this would facilitate easier duplication. This decision is still questionable since neither the current research, nor the one it replicates has accounted for the conduct of stage one students.
Thus there is still a gap in the literature on how this category of students rate on their classroom conduct. One major weakness of the study is in the data collection procedures. The classroom conduct of the participants is based on the assessment of teachers. While teachers are the ones who work more intimately with students and are in a better position to assess behavioral outcomes, teacher bias often produces inaccurate data (Reynolds, 1991). As in the case of the interviews, some measures should have been put in place to diminish possible evaluator bias.
Another limitation of the study is that the researchers recruited participants from both the elementary and high school levels yet did not make any controls for how this factor could have influenced either moral reasoning or conduct. The nature of the school environment can have an influence on these variables and thus, to ensure uniformity of survey conditions, it is advisable to utilize similar type schools for the survey setting. Where that is not possible or where the researchers desire to recruit participants from different school environments, the necessary controls for these factors need to be discussed in the presentation of data.
1. Identify the primary question(s) of the article. The researchers wanted to discover if the results discovered by Bear and Richards (1981) on the influence of stage of moral development on classroom conduct of middle-class students in Iowa was replicable among culturally diverse students of different ages and grade levels. They also wanted to discover if the influence of moral stage on conduct varied based on sex. 2. Identify the theoretical construct that is being used. The theoretical foundation of the research is Kohlberg’s theory of moral development.
This theory postulates that individuals are at different stages of moral development ranging from one to six with each stage hierarchically higher than the other. He further stipulates that moral reasoning impacts and determines observable behavioral outcomes in different life situations. With respect to the classroom setting Kohlberg concludes that the lower the level of moral reasoning, the more disruptive behaviors will be displayed in the classroom and consequently the higher the level of moral reasoning the less problematic behaviors will be carried out in the classroom. 3.
Recommend an alternative quantitative approach that could have been used for this study and support your rationale. In order to assess the classroom conduct of students I would recommend, as an alternative to the teacher-evaluated Conduct Scale of the Behavior Problem Checklist, that taped observations of classroom practice be utilized. In this approach the researchers would obtain permission from school administrators and teachers to tape two typical classroom sessions each, with a one-week interval in between. In the three school environments one classroom at each level will be included in the study.
There would be one fourth-grade and one fifth-grade classroom at each of the two elementary schools and two eighth grade classrooms at the high school to give a total of six classrooms and twelve video-taped sessions. Independent evaluators would score the classroom behaviors of each of the students in the classroom independently and then their scores will be correlated to ensure inter-rater reliability. The behavior problem checklist would form the criteria for assessment of the videotapes and would be completed for each student in each classroom independently.
Missing data would be eliminated from the study during analysis. The strength of this method is that it eliminates the bias that has customary been associated with teacher-evaluated instruments and thus would give a more reliable and hence valid indication of the classroom conduct of students. Classroom teachers will not be briefed as to the complete purpose of the survey so as to eliminate the influence they may exert on classroom conduct in the classroom. Additionally this method ensures that there is consistency in what behaviors are considered and how these behaviors are categorized.
The evaluators of video tapes will be standardized prior to the actual evaluation procedure. Bibliography Reynolds, A. J. (1991). Early schooling of children at risk. Education Research Journal, 28, 392-422. Richards, H. C. , Stewart, A. L. , & Bear, G. G. (1984). Moral reasoning and classroom conduct: A replication. Paper presented at the 92nd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: APA. Bear, G. G. , & Richards, H. C. (1981). Moral reasoning and conduct problems in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 644-670.
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