Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Norma T. Mertz

Committee Members

Kathleen A. Lawler, P. Gary Klukken, Vince A. Anfara


A model using moral judgment and cultural ideology (political and religious ideology) for predicting moral thinking, developed by Narvaez, Getz, Rest, and Thoma (1999), was assessed for utility with students at Christian, evangelical, liberal arts colleges. This study also extended the Narvaez et al. study by including gender as a predictor, assessing the model’s goodness of fit, and determining whether the model had comparable predictive power for new and advanced students.

Freshmen (N = 199) and seniors (N = 230) from 2 colleges participated. The colleges were selected according to their accreditation status, membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, total student enrollment, and Christian holiness tradition. To sample freshmen, one mandatory lower-level general core course was identified at each college. Course sections then were selected randomly. Senior courses were systematically sampled to include one course from each department. The classes were randomly sampled until the requisite sample size was reached. Then, students in the classes for which permission was received completed the Defining Issues Test 2, Inventory of Religious Belief, and Attitudes Toward Human Rights Inventory.

The regression model predicted a significant amount of variance for the students in this study; however, the R2 value (.22) was much smaller than in Narvaez et al. (.67). The model’s predictive power was similar for freshmen and seniors, with roughly 4% more variance in moral thinking explained for freshmen. The R2 did not increase when gender was entered as a predictor variable. Three models, including the original model from Narvaez et al., did not have good fit.

The conclusions drawn from this study were:

1. The model can be used to predict moral thinking on major social issues for students at Christian evangelical, liberal arts colleges.

2. The model’s predictive validity is similar for new and advanced students.

3. Differences in moral thinking are not dependent on gender.

4. The model does not have a good fit for students at Christian, evangelical, liberal arts colleges.

5. The model does not account for as much variance in moral thinking in conservative samples as in heterogeneous samples.

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