The impact of transformational ethics instruction methodologies on student moral judgment in a leadership development course at a large public university in Texas
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The purpose of this quasi-experimental mixed-method study was to examine the impact of transformational ethics instruction methodologies on student moral judgment in a leadership development course. Quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses were used to examine changes in moral judgment and moral thought processes, with particular emphasis on how those constructs influence leadership decisions. Eighty-eight students from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University comprised the sample of this study. Over the course of the spring 2007 semester, these students received systematic ethics instruction in the context of a leadership development course. Treatment group participants received this instruction through largely transformational education strategies, while control group participants primarily received the instruction via traditional/ transactional methods. Over the course of the semester, participants completed pretest and posttest administrations of the Defining Issues Test, Version 2 (DIT2). Additional follow-up interviews were conducted with eight students, representing the treatment and control groups. Results indicated that transformational instructional methodology is a significant determinant regarding increases in student moral judgment. In contrast, students exposed to traditional/ transactional instructional methods did not demonstrate significant changes in moral judgment scores. Augmentative qualitative analyses identified three distinguishing themes that appear to be representative of shifts in moral or leadership perspectives: (1) deep personal application of moral concepts, (2) exposure to significant emotional events (or disorienting dilemmas), and (3) desire for personal change. Implications for ethics and leadership educators are presented, along with areas for future research.
Keller, David Warren (2007). The impact of transformational ethics instruction methodologies on student moral judgment in a leadership development course at a large public university in Texas. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from