Title

Relationships among school counselors' level of moral reasoning, demographic characteristics, and their use of ethical decision making resources

Date of Completion

January 2001

Keywords

Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among demographic variables, level of moral reasoning (as measured by the Defining Issues Test (Rest 1979, 1988), and the use of ethical decision making resources by school counselors as they resolve ethical dilemmas. It was hypothesized that the independent variables of gender, level of education, amount of ethics education, years of counseling experience, and level of moral reasoning would significantly predict the frequency with which school counselors use ethical decision making resources. ^ A random sample (N = 450) was taken from the population of Connecticut school counselors (N = 1500); a 34.4% response rate with 33.7% usable was obtained from the total sample. The two instruments used for data collection were the Demographic Data and Background Questionnaire, developed by the researcher and the Defining Issues Test (DIT) (Rest, 1979, 1988). ^ Seven standard multiple regression procedures were used to obtain a measure of relationship to each of seven dependent variables. In two of the seven regression models, the composite correlations were significant with the amount of variance accounted for by the composite correlation ranging from 14% (peer discussion) to 18% (ethical codes). Five regression models predicting the frequency of use of personal values, supervisory direction, school board policy, professional consultation, and counseling literature failed to reach significance. ^ Consequently, significant differences were found between male and female and between masters' and postmasters' level counselors with regard to the frequency with which they utilize various ethical decision making resources. A One-Way ANOVA was employed for gender and revealed a statistically significant difference in the frequency with which female counselors utilized three ethical decision making resources (peer discussion, supervision, and ethical codes). A second One-Way ANOVA was employed for level of education and this test provided a statistically significant difference between masters' and postmasters' level counselors with regard to the frequency with which they utilize their own personal beliefs in ethical decision making. ^