Student Moral Development

Educators expect students to recognize and respect legal boundaries in higher education environments. Yet, sometimes educators are not prepared to understand how the complexity of students' reasoning abilities may lead to questionable or unacceptable behaviors. Moral development theories, such as those of Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Carol Gilligan, explore patterns of moral judgments made by individuals that can result in moral actions. These judgments and actions are situated in cultural contexts that hold, whether implicitly or explicitly, expectations and values that are developed over time with increasing experience. To be specific, researchers on moral development suggest that conceptions of what is “right,” and their potential legal ramifications, often shift from simplistic to more sophisticated as individuals interact with the world and face the challenges ...

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