Conceptualizing moral literacy

Journal of Educational Administration 07/2007; 45(4). DOI: 10.1108/09578230710762409


Purpose – The purpose of this research is to provide an overview of the fundamental elements of moral literacy. Moral literacy involves three basic components: ethics sensitivity; ethical reasoning skills; and moral imagination. It is the contention of the author that though math and reading literacy is highly valued by the American educational system, moral literacy is extremely undervalued and under-developed. Design/methodology/approach – In this study the author uses her vast knowledge of moral literacy to break the subject matter into specific and defined sub-categories. She then explains each sub-category explicitly using real-life examples to assist the reader in understanding the gravity and meaning behind each separate facet of moral literacy. Findings – Moral literacy is a skill that must be crafted and honed by students, and with the aid of teachers who are well-versed in moral subject matter. It is a complex and multifaceted skill set that is interconnected and must therefore be learned completely in order to be used properly. Teaching students about moral literacy is truly necessary if schools wish to produce productive and responsible citizens. Originality/value – The study furthers our understanding of moral literacy and how it can play an absolutely vital role in our educational system. The paper not only explains what moral literacy is on a theoretical level, but it puts that theory into specific examples so that the reader can more clearly understand the benefits of acting in a morally literate fashion.

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Available from: Nancy Tuana, Feb 28, 2014
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    • "Recently, increasing principals' moral literacy—habits, skills, and competencies toward greater moral agency—has become an important research focus (Tuana, 2007). Similarly, researchers have asserted that moral competence in leadership helps to seek understanding and build harmony and trust among stakeholders (Kohn, 1997; Paul-Doscher & Normore, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: This descriptive study provides a rich portrait of moral agency and ethical decision-making processes among a sample of Canadian school principals. Using an ethical responsibility framework linking moral agency and transformational leadership, the researchers found that 1) modeling moral agency is important for encouraging others to engage their own moral agency in the best interests of all children; 2) despite efforts to engage in collaborative decision-making, principals are often faced with the reality that they are the ones to absorb the cost of decisions; and 3) moral agents need to become wide-awake to the ethical issues and challenges that permeate their day-today work lives.
    • "According to Rest (1986), moral judgment is based on four dimensions: ethical sensitivity, ethical judgment, ethical motivation, and ethical character. Rest (1986) and Cooper (2006) agree that ethical sensitivity should be recognized as the first step in ethical behavior development whereas Tuana (2007) posits that ethical sensitivity is a key element in moral literacy development which involves at least three major components: (1) the ability to determine whether or not a situation involves ethical issues; (2) awareness of the moral intensity of the ethical situation; and (3) the ability to identify the moral virtues or values underlying an ethical situation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose ‐ This study had five objectives: explain the initial steps that led to the construction of the Ethical Leadership Questionnaire (ELQ); analyze the items and verify the ELQ reliability using item response theory (IRT); examine its factorial structure with a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and an exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) approach; test the item bias of the ELQ; assess the relation between the ELQ dimensions and ethical sensitivity. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Study 1 and Study 2 involved 200 and 668 respondents, respectively. Step 1 consisted in IRT; Step 2 in CFA and ESEM analysis; Step 3 in invariance of the ELQ items across gender, and Step 4 in structural equation modeling. Findings ‐ Results indicated the presence of the three types of ethic in the resolution of moral dilemmas, validating Starratt's model. The factor structure was gender invariant. Ethic of critique was significantly related to ethical sensitivity. Research limitations/implications ‐ More replications will be needed to fully support the ELQ's validity. Given that the instrument may be used in diverse cultural contexts, invariance across cultures would be warranted. Practical implications ‐ As educational organizations become aware of the crucial need for more ethical leaders, they will need to pay particular attention to the ethic of critique as it appears to play a significant role in the development of ethical sensitivity. Social implications ‐ Results presented in this paper answer a vital need for more ethical skills in educational leadership. Originality/value ‐ The ELQ provides a validated measure of Starratt's conceptual framework and highlights the key role played by ethical sensitivity and the ethic of critique.
    Journal of Educational Administration 04/2014; 52(3). DOI:10.1108/JEA-10-2012-0110
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    • "Developing capacities for moral agency within increasingly complex and diverse educational settings is an essential capacity, then, for school principals. Recently, increasing principals' moral literacy—the habits, skills and competencies—towards greater moral agency has become an important research focus (Tuana 2007). Similarly, researchers assert that moral competence in leadership helps to seek understanding and build harmony and trust among stakeholders (Kohn 1997; Normore and Paul- Doscher 2007; Paul-Doscher and Normore 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes Canadian school principals’ (n=177) perceptions of the factors that constitute their ethical decisions, the grounds, and the strategies for ethical decision-making in their school work. For the participants, primary factors that made decisions ethical were truthfulness and honesty; alignment with values; doing what is best for students and the learning community; and the challenge and pressure of knowing that ethical considerations are the bottom line when it comes to making the right decisions. Their personal and professional grounds for making ethical decisions were confidence in personal ability to consistently make good ethical decisions; faith in the abilities of others to make ethical decisions; and knowledge of the relevant professional ethical codes. Discussing their strategies for ethical decision-making at work, participating principals emphasized self-discipline as a means to deter unethical decision making; past experiences/precedence as aids in making the right ethical decision; referral to a relevant ethical code as support for decision-making; and, advice and feedback from others as moral support and accountability mechanisms. This study provides educational leaders with a better understanding of the nature, grounds, and strategies for improved ethical decision-making in school administration.
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