Assignment: Moral Reasoning Interview

STEP 1: With permission from a child’s parent and after explaining that you will interview them, explain the following moral dilemma to a child and ask them the questions that follow.

Kel is walking to the store. It’s his mother’s birthday on Saturday. He’s feeling bad because he hasn’t been able to save up enough money to get her the present he’d like to give her. Then, on the sidewalk, he finds a wallet with $10 in it — just what he needs to buy the present! But there’s an identification card in the wallet telling the name and address of the owner.

1. What should Kel do? Why?
2. What would be a good reason for Kel to return the wallet? Can you think of any other reasons?
3. Would it be stealing to keep the money? Why is it wrong to steal?
4. What if the owner of the wallet were rich and greedy and wouldn’t even give Kel a reward for returning it — should he return the wallet then?

STEP 2: Interview someone above the age of sixteen. Read or explain the following moral dilemma[1] and ask the questions that follow.

Deandra and Kay were best friends. One day they went shopping together. Deandra tried on a sweater and then, to Kay’s surprise, walked out of the store wearing the sweater under her coat. A moment later, the store’s security officer stopped Kay and demanded that she tell him the name of the girl who had walked out. The security officer told the storeowner he had seen the two girls together and was sure the one who left had been shoplifting. The storeowner said to Kay, “Come on now, come clean. You could get into serious trouble if you don’t give us your friend’s name.”

1. Should Kay tell Deandra’s name to the security officer? Why?
2. Would it make any difference if Deandra had recently done a big favor for Kay?
3. Would it make a difference if they were not good friends?
4. What factors should Kay consider in making her decision?

STEP 3: Write up a response paper (300-500 words) reflecting on the responses from the two interviews. How did the responses of the child and the adult differ in terms of maturity of moral judgments? How old were your participants? Were you surprised by anything they said? How do they fit into Kohlberg’s stages of moral reasoning?

Sample Grading Rubric
Criteria Proficient Developing Not Evident Points
Writes a coherent reflection between 300-500 words Writes in clear, descriptive sentences with no or few grammatical errors. The paper is well organized and complete. Does not provide enough detail in the paper or contains several grammatical errors. Incomplete paper or difficult to understand. __/4
Demonstrates having completed both interviews Successfully reports on the responses from the interviews in sufficient detail Demonstrates having completed the interviews but does not include much detail or analysis Does not successfully demonstrate having completed the interviews or the analysis __/10
Explains the connection with Kohlberg’s theory Analyzes the interviews in the context of Kohlberg’s stages and identifies where each participant likely falls according to the stages. Analyzes the interviews in the context of Kohlberg’s stages but with limited description or development. Does not thoroughly address the interviews in the context of Kohlberg’s stages of moral reasoning __/6
Total: __/20

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  1. Habl, Jan. (2018). Even When No One is Looking: Fundamental Questions of Ethical Education. Wipf and Stock Publishers.