PATTERNS OF MORAL REASONING AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GENDER AND EDUCATIONAL LEVEL OF A SAMPLE OF KUWAIT UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Research on moral reasoning has received much attention for many years since the inception of Kohlberg’s theory about morality and moral development. Since Kohlberg's inception of his theory, considerable studies of moral judgment among college and university students have been undertaken predominantly with Western student populations.
In contrast with the burgeoning western publications in moral reasoning, there is a paucity of research addressing the moral reasoning of Muslim college and university students.
The purpose of the present paper is to identify the types of moral reasoning used by a sample of 280 students from college of Education, Kuwait University.
The study uses Kohlberg's moral development framework to operationalize stages and levels of moral judgment.
Kohlberg’s theory of moral development describes the principle of justice and its development over time as individuals interact with their environment. His theory includes six stages within three levels of moral thinking. These three levels are the preconventional level (stages 1 and 2), the conventional level (stages 3 and 4), and the post conventional level (stages 5 and 6).
The Defining Issues Test of James Rest was used to evaluate moral reasoning. Of the methods of measuring moral reasoning, the most widely used is the Defining Issues Test (DIT), a technically strong, objective paper-and-pencil test. The Defining Issues Test is a well-documented measure of moral judgment that has been used all over the world.
The results of this study show that, according to Kohlberg’s theory, the majority of students are at stage 4 of moral development, which is the conventional level.
This was lower than the mean scores of most Western college students reported in the relevant research literature. Other results show no statistical significant differences between the scores of moral judgments of students according to gender. However, there were statistical significant differences between the scores of moral judgments according to educational levels of the students.
The findings of the present study were interpreted in the light of the previous literature pertinent to moral reasoning according to Kohlberg’s theory of cognitive developmental approach to moral development.