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J Moral Educ. 2002 Sep;31(3):271-95.

The defining issues test and the four component model: contributions to professional education.

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Department of Preventive Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, 515 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


This article reviews studies examining the effect of professional education on ethical development. Most studies limit assessment to the measurement of moral judgement, observing that moral judgement plateaus during professional school unless an ethics intervention is present. Whereas interventions influence the shift to postconventional reasoning (the DIT P score), a more illuminating picture of change may emerge if researchers examined DIT profiles. More importantly, limiting assessment to measures of moral judgement ignores important aspects of moral functioning suggested by the Four Components Model. Assessment methods have been validated for sensitivity, role concept and ethical implementation that could be adapted to provide individuals in a particular profession with a more complete picture of abilities needed for real-life professional practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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