Moral Reasoning on Environmental Issues : A Comparison of Secondary Science and Social Study Teachers and Their Students
Pierce, Bryan C.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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The purpose of this research was to determine if secondary science and social studies teachers are using significantly more principled moral reasoning (stages 5 and 6) than their students on environmental issues. Ancillary research questions included comparing the principled moral reasoning abilities of the following groups: social studies versus science secondary inservice teachers; preservice versus inservice teachers; college students enrolled in preservice science, preservice social studies, and environmental education classes; and male and female students in grades 9-12. An additional research question was posed to determine if there is a significant relationship between the use of principled moral reasoning and teacher age or years of teaching experience. The Environmental Issues Test was administered and responses were analyzed using the "P"score (percent principled moral reasoning) for the following populations: A) college students enrolled in Teaching Techniques in Secondary Education - Science (n=10), Teaching Techniques in Secondary Education - Social Studies (n=11), and Foundations of Environmental Education (n=28); B) a preliminary sample of volunteer science teachers (n=10) and their students in grades 7-12; and C) a 15% random sample of central Wisconsin (CESA 7) secondary science and social studies teachers (n=33) and their students in grades 9-12. Results indicated that the teachers scored statistically significantly higher (p<.0001) than their students in principled moral reasoning on environmental issues. Individual teacher/class comparisons however revealed that over 15% of the teachers scored less than the mean "P"score of their own students. The educational significance of these results has not yet been established. Results of analyses for the ancillary research questions found no statistically significant differences (p>.05) in principled moral reasoning on environmental issues between science and social studies teachers, between inservice and preservice teachers, between any of the three college classes, or between male and female students in grades 9-12. Further, the "P"score of the teachers was not significantly related (p>.05) to their age or years of teaching experience. Implications of these results for environmental education and for moral/values education in general are discussed.