Research in Higher Education

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 91–102 | Cite as

Moral judgment development of college students

  • Donald A. Biggs
  • Robert Barnett


In recent years, psychologists and educators have shown increased interest in the moral development of college students. Kohlberg and Rest discuss a six-stage model of moral judgment development that has generated considerable research. The findings have raised several issues regarding the relevance of attitudes, traits, and experiences in understanding the moral judgment development of students. This study examines the differential impact of (1) college experiences, (2) attribution beliefs and attitudes about punitiveness, (3) educational and academic characteristics, and (4) freshmen level of moral judgment development on the level of moral development of upper-division students, who as freshmen were classified as having either low or high levels of moral reasoning. For freshmen with low moral reasoning scores, their upper-division level of moral judgment development was significantly related to their causal attribution beliefs regarding personal responsibility. For those freshmen with high moral reasoning scores, their initial level of moral reasoning was the most significant factor related to their upper-division level of moral judgment development. For these students, participation in extracurricular activities was negatively related to upper-division moral reasoning scores. The more they had participated in extracurricular activities, the lower their upper-division moral reasoning scores.


College Student Initial Level Education Research Moral Reasoning Considerable Research 
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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald A. Biggs
    • 1
  • Robert Barnett
    • 2
  1. 1.SUNYAlbany
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaUSA

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