1. Have students form groups of three or four, and
assign them the Moral
Reasoning Activity. Printed copies of the four dilemmas as well
as the activity instructions should be provided to each group. Allow
about 30 minutes to complete the activity.
2. Have group spokespersons report their three preferred solutions
for dilemma 1 (Vehicles of Destruction).
3. Write the solution numbers on the board, keeping tabs of how many
times particular solutions are chosen.
4. Repeat this procedure with each of the other dilemmas.
5. Explain that this activity is designed to elicit responses based
on the Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning. Ask if students have
studied Kohlberg's stages before. Have students describe what (if
anything) they know about Kohlberg's stages.
6. Before providing descriptions of Kohlberg's stages, present the
There are 3 levels and 6 stages.
The sequence of the stages is fixed.
Progression through the stages is dependent on cognitive
development. A person cannot progress to Level II until s/he
reaches the stage of Concrete Operations and cannot progress to
Level III until s/he reaches Formal Operations. (It is assumed
that students are familiar with Jean Piaget's theory of
However, higher cognitive development does not insure a higher
level of moral development.
Individuals understand (but don’t accept) moral reasoning at
stages below their own.
Individuals understand (and are drawn to) moral reasoning one
stage above their own.
Individuals at different stages may come to the same moral
decisions, but their reasons will differ.
A person’s actions are not always consistent with his/her moral
6. Describe Kohlberg's six stages (See
stage descriptions). As each stage is presented, ask students
for examples of reasoning at that stage from those provided in the
7. After all six stages are presented, ask
students to determine the stages of the three solutions they chose
for each of the four dilemmas.
8. In conclusion, teachers may wish to present
Carol Gilligan's alternative perspective on moral development:
A. Ask if there were gender
differences in the solutions to the dilemmas. If so, have students
describe these differences.
B. Explain that Carol Gilligan suggests that girls and women
often score lower on Kohlberg’s moral dilemmas because they use
different criteria in making moral decisions:
Males base their
decisions based on abstract justice.
Females are more
likely to base theirs on caring for others and building
Psychology/Sociology Lesson Plans
Last updated 1-4-2024
Edmund J. Sass, Ed.D.