Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
Sharon (Nodie) Oja
This mixed methods study explored aspects of the internship experience that are responsible for moral growth changes among undergraduates in a recreation management discipline. This study addressed four aims: (1) to investigate changes in interns' moral reasoning as determined by the Defining Issues Test 2 (DIT-2) over the course of a 14-week internship experience, (2) to examine the relationship between interns' level of moral reasoning and performance during the internship experience, (3) to explore convergence and divergence between the theoretical patterns of NeoKohlbergian theory of moral development and the observed patterns of intern moral judgment and actions, and (4) to identify aspects of the internship experience that appear responsible for moral growth changes among interns.
In phase one of the study, the DIT-2 was administered to 33 recreation management interns in a pre and post-test format. In phase two of the study, 10 interns were purposefully selected to serve as case studies based on their level of post-conventional reasoning on the DIT-2 pre-test. Multiple forms of qualitative data were collected including semi-structured interviews, artifacts, and observations.
A paired samples t-test showed a statistically significant difference in Personal Interest and Post-Conventional schema, and N-2 scores for 33 recreation management interns who completed a 14-week internship experience. In relation to the mean final performance measures among interns, both the Spearman rho correlation and a 3x3 cross-tabulation for distribution levels showed insignificant results.
Using an outcome pattern matching technique (Trochim, 1989), significant convergence was noted between the theoretical patterns of NeoKohlbergian theory of moral development and the observed patterns of intern judgments and actions for the 10 intern cases. This convergence was reflected in two primary patterns: (1) as interns used lower judgment schemas, they tended to make judgments from an egocentric perspective and demonstrated behaviors that were based on protecting personal interests, and (2) as interns used the Post-Conventional schema, they tended to make judgments that adhered to moral principles and demonstrated behaviors that reflected a concern for others.
In order to explore aspects of the internship experience that appeared to influence intern moral development, all qualitative data sources were coded and three themes emerged: (1) the type of internship setting is critical to intern moral development, (2) the internship site supervisor and senior staff members are vital resources for interns as they begin to negotiate the ethical landmines of practice, and (3) the nature of the intern role impacts ethical decision-making among interns.
Craig, Patricia J., "Moving beyond entry-level competencies: The role of the recreation management internship in the moral development of college students" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations. 586.