Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Educational Specialist (EdS)



Committee Chair(s)

Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Tyler Renshaw


Those in the helping professions, like psychology, counseling, and social work, have numerous ethical guidelines and codes to dictate ethical behavior. These codes, while extensive, do not encompass all situations. When professionals find themselves in an ambiguous situation, it is called an ethical dilemma. Many of the professional organizations that create ethical codes also recommend the use of ethical decision-making models. Ethical decision-making models provide steps, or instructions, on how to make an ethical decision when presented with an ethical dilemma.

Little research has been done on ethical decision-making models, so it cannot be concluded that these models actually help make more ethical decisions. The current study compared ethical decision quality among school psychologists and school psychology graduate students who were given a common ethical dilemma to resolve. The experimental group was provided with a high quality and unfamiliar ethical decision-making model, while the control group was not provided this model. Participants provided their decisions, which were compared to a pre-written list of all possible solutions and a rating for how ethical they were. Evidence was found to support the idea that having an ethical decision-making model available results in higher quality ethical decisions.

School psychology graduate students and school psychology practitioners were compared to see if one was helped more by having an ethical decision-making model available. Although not statistically significant, analyses suggest that school psychology practitioners may benefit more from having a model available. Furthermore, those who had prior explicit training on using an ethical decision-making model had higher quality ethical decisions. These results speak to the importance of having an ethical decision-making model available when faced with an ethical dilemma, as well as graduate and continuing education providing explicit instruction on ethical decision-making model use.



Included in

Psychology Commons