Animal Studies Bibliography

Self, D. J., Schraeder, D. E., Baldwin, D. C., Root, S. K., Wolinsky, F. D., and Shadduck, J. A. 1991. Study of the influence of veterinary medical education on the moral development of veterinary students. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 198(5): 782-787.

Research on med school students has shown that moral reasoning is connected to clinical competency and that students show increased cynicism and loss of idealism over the course of medical training.

Hypothesis : The hierarchical, authoritarian structure (783) of vet school does not encourage moral reflection. Therefore, veterinary medical education inhibits normal moral development.

Independent variables/operational definitions : Year in vet school (1st or 4th), sex, MCAT scores, GPA, age.

Dependent variables/operational definitions : Change in moral reasoning scores, measured using Kohlberg & Colby's Moral Judgment Interview (MJI).

Findings : Moral reasoning has been shown to increase with age. However, these students' moral reasoning scores did not increase significantly over the 4 years, suggesting that veterinary education inhibited normal growth. Variance in moral reasoning among the subjects decreased from 1 and a quarter stages to 3/4 of a stage at the posttest. This decreased variance suggests a socializing effect of the schooling; since the increased homogeneity is not seen among other postgraduate students, this suggests the change is produced specifically be veterinary education. There were no significant correlations between the moral reasoning weighted average score (WAS) and age, sex, or MCAT scores, and no significant correlations between global stage scores and age, sex, or GPA. There were significant relationships between WAS scores and GPA and between global stage scores and MCAT scores. The higher the GPA or MCAT scores, the higher the corresponding moral judgment score. This agrees with other findings connecting higher moral reasoning with higher academic achievement. Most subjects scored at the conventional level of reasoning. Although the group overall showed no change, 2 subjects regressed from postconventional to conventional, and most showed some substantial change, although much of this change was for the worse. Males and females regressed equally in global stage scores but females regressed more in WAS. The similar pre- and posttest scores of males and females support Kohlberg over Gilligan's claim of gender-bias, but the greater changes for females is interesting and suggests that vet education may be experienced differently by males and females. Further studies should investigate the development of ethics of care and whether vets develop that ethic to the detriment of Kohlberg's justice-based moral reasoning. Morality is complex, and other aspects must be taken into account as well. Further research should consider whether this difference is caused by vet schools or by the types of people who attend them.

Sample/population sampled : 20 students (16% of the student body) volunteered at beginning of their first year.



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