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Develops and tests the argument that moral development is a non-additive, interactive function of both recognized cognitive abilities and interpersonal security (i.e., resolved safety needs). Uneven emphasis during preservice teacher education on either the cognitive or the affective and conative realms will impede personal moral progression. The 139 preservice teachers (sophomores and juniors) had a mean moral development score at about the national norm. However, there were great divergences from this mean within the various conative and achievement groups. Principled reasoning scores that matched or exceeded the national norms for persons of their age and educational status were produced by (1) high achievers, provided that a relatively moderate level of safety need satisfaction was reached, and (2) average achievers with resolved safety needs. Thus, for the large majority of persons, whose academic success history is “average”, culturally high levels of safety need satisfaction is an important antecedent of post-conventional reasoning. Both the insecure and moderately secure among these average achievers received scores similar to those of senior high school students. These data suggest that the constraints placed on moral thought by one's prepotent conative level must be seriously considered in curricular planning for preservice teachers and children and youth in general; without proper intervention, the average beginning teacher will be reasoning at a moral level a shade above that of the average 17-year-old today. Implications for teacher education and the development of democratic reasoning in the face of social turmoil are pointed out.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1981-01-01

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