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Online Submission, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Vancouver, BC, Canada, Apr 2012)

Teachers tasked with developing moral character in future physicians face an array of pedagogic challenges, among them identifying tools to measure progress in instilling the requisite skill set. One validated instrument for assessing moral judgment is the Defining Issues Test (DIT-2). Based on the work of Lawrence Kohlberg, the test's main index, the P score, indicates the respondent's progress within a framework of increasing moral sophistication. To evaluate the effectiveness of the Professionalism and Humanism curriculum at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in improving medical students' professional judgment and moral reasoning, the authors administered the DIT-2 to the medical school class of 2011 (N = 236) during orientation at the beginning of school (T1) and again shortly before graduation (T2). 195 tests were subsequently scored by the Center for the Study of Ethical Development at T1 and 72 tests at T2. Analysis of variance was used to assess for main effects of gender and primary language on P scores. The P score mean for the 1st year medical students was 43.67 on a 0 to 95 scale; for graduating seniors, it was 43.31. At T1 and T2, a statistically significant main effect for gender was observed on P scores (p less than 0.01) but not for English as primary language. There was no statistically significant difference between the results at T1 and T2, which contrasts with the normal progression of moral reasoning that is typically observed in young adults who seek higher education. However, the UTMB results are consistent with other studies of medical students which have demonstrated a similar inhibition of moral reasoning over four years of medical education. (Contains 4 tables.) [Funding for this project was provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.]

Descriptors: Medical Education, Medical Students, Physicians, Statistical Analysis, Value Judgment, Humanism, Moral Development, Moral Values, Gender Differences, Program Effectiveness, Psychological Characteristics, Psychological Needs, Psychological Evaluation, Attitude Change, Attitude Measures, Measures (Individuals), Evaluation Methods, Measurement Objectives, Measurement Techniques, Ethics, Hypothesis Testing, Professional Education

Autor: Riegle, Sandra E.; Frye, Ann W.; Glenn, Jason; Smith, Kirk L.


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