Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson


Problem. Research on moral development in school-age children has been hampered by the lack of measurement tools based on a comprehensive model that includes moral cognition, moral emotions, and moral behavior. This study presents the first step toward the development of an objective measure of moral development for children in grades 3-6.

Method. One-hundred-twenty-one items covering different theorized determinates of moral development were administered to 187 children enrolled in grades 3-6. Either cluster or factor analysis was applied to determine the scales. Reliability was appraised by item analysis and validity was assessed by: (1) parent, teacher, and self ratings of behavior, which were adapted for younger children from Hill and Swanson's Ethical Behavioral Rating Scales (EBRS); (2) a peer ranking measure, (3) Bryant's Index of Empathy, and (4) the Children's Personality Questionnaire.

Results. The adapted EBRS had alpha coefficients of .810 for parent ratings, .932 for teacher ratings and .673 for the self ratings. A total of nine scales was derived from the CCI. The Esteem, Empathy, and Courage scales had alpha coefficients > .700. These scales correlated significantly with the behavioral measures, and may be acceptable without modification. The Preconventional reasoning, Conventional reasoning, and Altruism scales had alphas > .600 and also correlated with the validation measures but need revision to improve their psychometric qualities. The three remaining scales had alphas > .400. Only the Control scale correlated with behavioral measures sufficiently to warrant continued development, but the Openness and Sociability scales were eliminated. All significant correlations were in the expected directions and support an integrated model of moral development.

Conclusions. This study supported the feasibility of developing a comprehensive measure of moral development, but additional testing and refinement are needed. Preliminary findings suggest that moral development is related to several emotions. The scales tentatively called Esteem, Empathy, and Courage appear to be most strongly correlated with moral behavior as measured by teacher and self ratings. The 13-item Ethical Behavioral Scale, adapted for school-age children for use by teachers, parents, or children, also appears to be a useful measure of ethical behavior.

Subject Area

Child development, Children--Religious life, Personality development.

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