Moral identity of teachers of the underprivileged

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Moral identity is the extent that a person has constructed his or her sense of self around moral concerns (Hardy, 2006). This research study focuses on whether there is a difference in the moral identity of teachers who serve underprivileged students in the inner city and teachers who serve more affluent students in the suburbs. Insight into the moral identity of teachers of the underprivileged was achieved by utilizing both quantitative and cognitive anthropological qualitative methods, and focusing on the role of moral judgment, religiosity, and personality. Teachers were categorized based on educational environment (inner city or suburban), educational experience (taught for less that ten years or more than ten years) and educational level of teachers (Bachelors or either a Masters or Educational Specialist degree). The Defining Issues Test 2, a measure of moral judgment, did not reveal significant differences in the scores of inner city teachers (N = 29) and suburban teachers (N = 32); teachers who taught less than ten years (N = 27) and teachers who taught more than ten years (N = 34); and teachers who did not have a graduate degree (N = 22) and teachers who did have a graduate degree (39). The Quest Scale on the Religious Life Inventory (Batson, 1993) is an open-ended, questioning approach to religion that is associated with reduced authoritarianism, tolerance, and universal compassion (Batson, 1983). A one-way ANOVA revealed no significant difference between elementary inner city and suburban teachers on the Quest Scale F (1,61) = 1.859, p = .178; no significant difference between teachers who taught in the classroom less than ten years and those who have taught ten years or more F(1,60) =1.881, p = .175; However, higher Quest Scale scores for teachers with a graduate degree than teachers with a undergraduate degree only resulted in a significant difference between the two categories of teachers, F(1, 60) = 7.460, p = .008. Cultural domain analysis, a cognitive anthropology methodology, examined contrasts between inner city and suburban teachers in their classification and ranking of 21 qualities of a good teacher. Both categories of teachers classified the same qualities as either child-centered, with both equity and caring components, which are associated with moral cognition; or adult-centered, with both openness or interaction components. Inner city teachers preferred equity based qualities when interacting with students and suburban teachers preferred caring based qualities. Only the inner city teachers achieved cultural consensus in their classifying the 21 qualities of a good teacher, and neither group utilized the same cultural domain in classifying the qualities of a good teacher as they used in ranking the qualities of a good teacher. Teachers who were highly positively or highly negatively correlated to the cultural domains of inner city or suburban teachers were selected to be interviewed with the Life Story Interview (McAdams, et al, 2008). There was not a difference between the inner city and suburban teachers regarding a religious motivation for becoming a teacher. However, inner city teachers stated that there is a great sense of community and teamwork between inner city teachers in supporting one another to remain dedicated to their jobs. This sense of community and teamwork was not found among the suburban teachers. Findings of this research indicate that further implementation of cultural domain analysis should be explored in the field of moral psychology.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Education, Educational Psychology, Cultural anthropology, Developmental psychology