Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Music Education

First Advisor

James R. Austin

Second Advisor

Margaret H. Berg

Third Advisor

Martina L. Miranda

Fourth Advisor

Gregory Carey

Fifth Advisor

John Drumheller


Teaching music is a moral activity. Music educators require well-developed moral judgment to adjudicate the various aspects of their jobs that have moral dimensions. The purpose of this study was to develop a reliable and valid measure of moral judgment for use in music education settings. Modeled after the Defining Issues Test (DIT), a measure of cognitive moral development with established reliability and validity, the Music Education Professional Ethics (MEPE) test was developed according to the systematic process followed by Chaar (2007) in designing a moral judgment measure for pharmacy practice. Moral dilemmas were drawn from music education casebooks and practitioner journals, and MEPE items and subscales were validated for content by a panel of four music education professors who referenced dilemmas rated by seventeen expert music educators as being frequently encountered and most difficult to resolve.

The MEPE was administered to undergraduate music education majors (n = 121) at sixteen NASM accredited four-year universities (11 public, 5 private). Participants were asked to rate the importance of ethical considerations written at different levels of moral judgment development as defined by Kohlberg (1981). Responses to the MEPE exhibited good internal consistency, with reliability coefficients of .85, .84, and .84 for its three subscales.

There were no significant gender differences for participant ratings of preconventional, conventional and postconventional considerations corresponding to each of the six dilemmas. For the photocopying and sacred music dilemmas, however, there were significant class standing differences with upperclassmen operating at lower levels of moral judgment than underclassmen. For the dilemma that involved a music teacher discovering a broken instrument, participants who would not punish the entire class had significantly higher moral judgment scores.

Overall, there were no significant differences in P scores (a composite weighted ranking score traditionally used in moral judgment research) by either gender or class standing. P scores for undergraduate music education majors were comparable to those reported for college students and other pre-professionals in related research.

Thesis directed by Professor James R. Austin.