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The structure of moral reasoning in hearing impaired students Sam, Andrea Janice


This study examined the structure of moral reasoning in the hearing impaired and its relationship with reading comprehension. Kohlberg's cognitive-developmental theory of moral development provided the conceptual framework for assessing the moral reasoning of fifteen subjects who ranged in age from twelve to fifteen years. These students, in a provincial school for the deaf, were not multiply handicapped and had an average hearing loss of greater than 100dB in the better ear. Four modified dilemmas from Kohlberg's Moral Judgment Instrument were administered to each subject in a separate interview. Each subject read a dilemma and were then shown a corresponding videotaped dilemma in American Sign Language (ASL). The interview which followed was videotaped and utilized each subject's preferred mode of communication. Analysis of the transcriptions from the videotapes indicated that the hearing impaired were reasoning at Stage 1 and Stage 2 while their hearing peers of similar age are reasoning at Stage 2, Stage 3 and Stage 4. The subjects' weighted average scores (for moral reasoning) were correlated with their Reading Comprehension (scaled) scores from school administered Stanford Achievement Tests for the Hearing Impaired and a significant positive correlation (r=.6161; p<.0l) was found. On the basis of these pilot findings it was suggested that moral reasoning may be related to language development. Implications of these findings were examined and areas for future research were suggested.

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