THE MORAL REASONING OF PUPILS IN MANAGING CONFLICTS

S. Ferkova, J. Derkova, M. Kuruc

Comenius University, Faculty of Education (SLOVAKIA)
The present study reports findings from the use of the Test of Moral Reasoning (Prevendárová & Ferková, 2016), which developed through modification of the standardised Test of Moral Maturity of Personality (Kotásková & Vajda, 1983). The Test of Moral Reasoning is based on seven scenarios of conflict between pupils which respondents consider from the viewpoint of direct participants and observers and propose methods for their management. The stories were focused on aggression against the person, aggression against things, on lie and theft and the test includes two versions, one for girls and one for boys. We were interested in incidence of the elements of help, prosocial behavior, independent solutions without the help of an adult, or on the other way, elements of aggression, the pursuit of revenge, avoidance of conflict resolution or helplessness. These results are classified in three categories of conflict management approaches: constructive, passive and destructive. The respondents in our research were pupils aged from 10 to 13 years (N=283; 155 boys and 128 girls). We used the Chi-squared test to evaluate the results. Our research has shown that pupils are in a significant extent most likely to propose passive approaches to conflict management (46,93%). The second most frequent approach was constructive rather than destructive as we originally hypothesized. The destructive approaches were proposed by statistically the smallest number of pupils: In the role of a participant in a conflict, by 27% of pupils and in the role of an observer, by even fewer – just 11% of pupils. Pupils responded in significantly different ways when they approached problems from the perspective of a participant compared to when they imagined themselves observing a conflict. Children are more likely to respond destructively to a conflict that they are a participant in while as an observer they prefer to avoid conflict. The frequent proposal of passive approaches to conflict management indicates there is still room for improvement in the development, integration and implementation of methods that strengthen pupils’ moral competences.