Research in Higher Education

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 26–46 | Cite as

Going Deep into Mechanisms for Moral Reasoning Growth: How Deep Learning Approaches Affect Moral Reasoning Development for First-year Students

  • Matthew J. Mayhew
  • Tricia A. Seifert
  • Ernest T. Pascarella
  • Thomas F. Nelson Laird
  • Charles F. Blaich


The purpose of this paper was to determine the effects of deep approaches to learning on the moral reasoning development of 1,457 first-year students across 19 institutions. Results showed a modest positive relationship between our measures of deep approaches to learning and moral reasoning at the end of the first year of college even after controlling for precollege moral reasoning. After accounting for a host of demographic and relevant student characteristics and for the natural clustering of students, we found that the integrative learning subscale, which captures students’ participation in activities designed to integrate information from varied sources and diverse perspectives, positively affected moral reasoning among first-year students. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.


Moral reasoning development Deep learning Quantitative First-year students 



The research on which this study was based was supported by a generous grant from the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College to the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education at the University of Iowa.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Mayhew
    • 1
  • Tricia A. Seifert
    • 2
  • Ernest T. Pascarella
    • 3
  • Thomas F. Nelson Laird
    • 4
  • Charles F. Blaich
    • 5
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Indiana University at BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA
  5. 5.Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash CollegeCrawfordsvilleUSA

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