Irish Student Teachers’ Levels of Moral Reasoning: Context, Comparisons, and Contributing Influences

Feb. 20, 2017

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, VOL. 23, NO. 1, 59–77, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article discusses findings from a longitudinal study of the levels of moral reasoning of student teachers in an Irish university.

The participants were of 102 undergraduate student teachers who completed the Defining Issues Test (DIT) measure of moral reasoning, at the beginning, mid-point and end of their four-year degree programme at an Irish university.


While comparing theses students' results to international findings, it was found that the levels of moral reasoning of these students’ were higher than those of their international peers.
The authors suggest possible explanations for the students’ performance.
They argue that students' high levels of performance derived from the high social status of teaching career in Ireland. Furthermore, Irish teachers have strong commitment to student well-being.
The authors also argue that the positive relationship between levels of moral reasoning and participation in Transition Year (TY) suggests that curriculum and education policy-makers should take the necessary steps to ensure that the generic skills so characteristic of the TY experience become key elements in the learning experience of all students.

The authors conclude that the relatively strong performance of the study cohort is encouraging. However, the findings raise a number of challenges for education policy-makers. These include the protection of the high status of teaching as a career against the background of austerity measures, and the increased duration of teacher education programmes without additional resources for the providers.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2017