Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences


J. Nichols Eastmond


Matthew J Taylor


In 1988, P. Scott Richard's dissertation research at the University of Minnesota asserted that the Defining Issues Test (DIT), a widely accepted paper-and-pencil test of moral reasoning, exhibited item bias against religiously orthodox persons. Since 1988 (when Richard's data were reported), new methods of differential-item functioning (DIF) have developed, a new DIT has emerged (the DIT-2), as well as a Neo-Kohlbergian framework based upon moral schemas derived from Kohlberg's Piagetian-like six stages. With new methods, new tests, and unanswered questions, this study's results imply: (1) that DIT-2 items exhibit differential item functioning for religiously orthodox persons in statistically significant but not as practically significant ways as Richards' earlier findings, (2) that religious orthodoxy does influence macromoral reasoning as measured by the DIT-2, (3) that the maintaining norms schema is insufficient to explain the variables that contribute to why religiously orthodox persons score the way they do. This study implies that the maintaining norms schema may be misnamed because it appears to be measuring a different construct than maintaining norms macromoral reasoning.