April 23, 2014

Improving the Moral Reasoning of Staff

Daniel Garvey, Ph.D. , Jordana DeZeeuw Spencer, M.S.


Staff who work with clients in residential settings are required to explain rules and expectations as well as help shape appropriate behavior. This article examines the possible effects of a program designed to improve the moral reasoning of staff responsible for the care of others. Fifty-four (54) university staff were pre-tested when they were hired. These same staff members were post-tested at the end of one school year. An experimental group of staff (12) took part in a series of outdoor adventure weekend retreats designed to improve moral reasoning. The experimental group scores were compared with the scores of other staff who held similar positions but who did not take part in the moral development weekends. The Defining Issues Test (DIT-P) was used as the pre/post-test instrument to measure changes in moral reasoning. Significant differences were found in the pre-post test scores for all staff, and although there was a marked increase (+8%) between the experimental and control groups in moral development, this difference was not statistically significant.

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