Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

Fall 8-1992


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College in the University of Nebraska

In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Major: Interdepartmental Area of Community and Human Resources Under the Supervision of Professor Leverne Barrett.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between instructor moral reasoning level. teaching style. and adult students' perception of the classroom environment. Rest's Defining Issues Test

measured the independent variable, principled level of moral cognitive development. Teaching style was identified as either learner-centered or teacher-centered using Conti' s Principles of Adult Learning Scale.

Student perception of classroom environment was measured by Stern and Walker's Classroom Environment Index (Fonn 971). The possible influence of the demographic variables of (1) gender, 2) age range, and (3) level of education on principled moral reasoning level was explored. The

sample consisted of 34 faculty teaching adult students at six area colleges and 519 students. There was a moderate significant relationship between moral reasoning level and teaching style indicated

by Pearson’s correlation coefficient. Step-wise regression showed that the utilization score on the Defining Issues Test when combined with the principled moral reasoning score moderated the amount of variance accounted for between the moral reasoning level and teaching style by a 12% increase. There was no significant correlation between teaching style and student perception of teaching style behaviors. There was significant moderate correlation between principled moral reasoning level and gender.