Adolescent moral judgement: A study of UK secondary school pupils

Walker, David Ian, Thoma, Stephen, Jones, Chantel and Kristjánsson, Kristján (2017) Adolescent moral judgement: A study of UK secondary school pupils. British Educational Research Journal, 43 (3). pp. 588-607. ISSN 0141-1926

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Despite a recent world-wide upsurge of academic interest in moral and character education, little is known about pupils’ character development in schools, especially in the UK context. The authors used a version of the Intermediate Concept Measure for Adolescents, involving dilemmas, to assess an important component of character—moral judgement—among 4053 pupils aged 14–15. Data were generated in 33 UK schools of varying types between February 2013 and June 2014. Results showed that compared with US samples, the pupils’ scores were, on average, low, suggestive of tendencies towards ‘self-interest’, ‘not getting involved’ and ‘conformity/loyalty to friends’. Judgements varied by subscales assessing ‘action’ and ‘justification’ choices; pupils more successfully identified good actions than good justifications, but generally struggled more to successfully identify poor actions and poor justifications. Highest scores were for a dilemma emphasising ‘self-discipline’ and lowest for ‘honesty’, with ‘courage’ in between. Overall average results were significantly and positively associated with being female, having (and practising) a religion and doing specific extra-curricular activities. Differences in schools were also noted, although the kinds of school (e.g. public/private, religious/secular) were unrelated to student scores.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescence, moral, ethical, character, UK schools
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2017 07:42
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 11:47

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