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ERIC Number: ED527918
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 223
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1245-6125-7
Can Ethics Be Taught? A Quasi-Experimental Study of the Impact of Class Size on the Cognitive Moral Reasoning of Freshmen Business Students
Sullivan, Ethan A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston College
The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a business ethics course on the cognitive moral reasoning of freshmen business students. The sample consisted of 268 college students enrolled in a required business ethics course. The students took Rest's Defining Issues Test--Version 2 (DIT2) as a pre-test and then post-test (upon completing the course). Descriptive analyses, t-tests, ANOVA, and multiple regression were employed to compare the pre-test and post-test scores of the students and to determine the relationship, if any, between the variables of gender, class size, instructor, class time of day, SAT scores, and students' GPAs; and the dependent variable of moral reasoning (N2) scores. Descriptive analyses showed that taking this kind of a course made a difference for virtually everyone. While women had higher pre-test scores, post-test scores, and overall gains in moral reasoning than men, men also had gains across the board. Gains were also found across all instructors, in both small and medium class sizes and regardless of what time the class occurred. Further, compared to the national sample of college students, the study sample was at the level of college seniors. Results of ANOVA testing showed that the gains in moral reasoning scores were statistically significant ones. However, the moral reasoning gains of students enrolled in the smaller sections (n = 19) were not statistically significantly different than students enrolled in medium sized (n = 27) sections of the same course. Finally, the independent variable of class time had the most statistically significant relationship with gains in moral reasoning scores. The findings of this study suggest several practices for institutions of higher education. First, certain curricular conditions should be considered by institutions with ethics courses. The content should be explicit and pedagogical strategies should include role-taking, the discussion of moral dilemmas, reflection, active learning, and cognitive disequilibrium. Second, increasing class sizes by eight students can help to maintain moral growth while still being financially efficient. Third, these findings may inform administrators when planning class times (the earlier, the better). [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Defining Issues Test