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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Judith Hoorn

First Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Second Committee Member

Phyllis Hensley

Third Committee Member

Mari Irvin

Fourth Committee Member

E. W. Stude


This research explored the connection between the level of moral reasoning in rehabilitation professionals and their supervisors' judgment of them as more or less successful in providing services. Professionals from three work settings (private for-profit, private not-for-profit, and public) in two states (California and Texas) were categorized by supervisors into two research groups. Moral reasoning was assessed by the Defining Issues Test. A demographic questionnaire provided information on factors such as age, sex, exposure to previous ethics training, years in the field of vocational rehabilitation, and identification of the professional as an individual with a disability. Relevant data was obtained from 61 supervisors and 122 rehabilitation professionals. The research sample provided 20 matched pairs (one more successful and one less successful) from both the private for-profit and private not-for-profit settings and 21 matched pairs from the public work setting. This sample included 73 females and 49 males. Analysis found that rehabilitation professionals identified as being more successful had significantly higher moral reasoning scores on the Defining Issues Test than peers identified as less successful. This finding was not affected by sex, work setting, years in the field of vocational rehabilitation, or prior exposure to training in ethics. The factor of age was identified as having significant interaction with the level of assessed moral reasoning. A positive correlation was identified between age and supervisors' selection of more successful professionals. This research identified moral development as a factor in being judged by supervisors as successful in vocational rehabilitation services. It also discussed alternative criteria for success other than the “rehabilitated” status of the client, the role of moral development in successful case management, the need for assessing moral development in candidates for graduate school, and the place of moral development in hiring and training rehabilitation professionals. Several recommendations are made for additional research that include adding the supervisor's age as a research factor; focusing on rehabilitation counselors rather than including the general population of rehabilitation professionals; and comparing competitive closure rates of rehabilitation professionals with their levels of assessed moral reasoning.




9780599419193 , 0599419199

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