Last revision: Nov. 12, 2004
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Moral and Democratic


Research Note

Moral Competencies Can be Taught

by Georg Lind


The Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion

The Moral Jugment Test

Randomized Intervention Study


In a carefully designed, randomized intervention-experiment with Thai college students, Prof. Sanguan Lerkiatbundit and her associates (2004) found high and sustainable effects of the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion (KMDD) on moral judgment competence. The experimental group gained 12 C-score points (on a 100-point scale) on Lind's (2004) Moral Judgment Test (MJT), and this gain could still be observed six months after the end of the experiment. The intervention consisted of a series of six dilemma discussions over six weeks using the Konstanz method, which has been derived from the Blatt-Kohlberg- method of dilemma discussion. The high average gain is remarkable as the MJT showed a high stability in a separate "reliability" study: r = 0.90, and the C-score remained almost unchanged in the control group. Readers interested in details of the study should contact the first author (address, see below).

This finding is the first independent corroboration of the high effect sizes that the author of the Konstanz method has found in his recent intervention studies (Lind, 2003; 2005). With German teacher and psychology students, he also found gains between 13 and 15 C-score points, and effect sizes of r > 0.65 (maximum r = 1.0). For comparison: the gains with the Blatt-Kohlberg method were -- at average -- about 6 percent points per year, reflecting an median effect size of r = 0.40 (Lind, 2002). The effect sizes of both intervention methods compare favorably to average effect sizes of psychological and educational treatments (r = 0.30; see Lipsey & Wilson, 1993), and to the effect size of good secondary school education (averaging about 3 percent points gain per year). Traditional schools with emphasis on rod learning and tough tests usually show no gain or even an decrease of moral judgment competence. It should also be noted that the MJT's C-score cannot be faked upward, as two experiments (one using the Emler-instruction) have shown (Lind, 2002; 2004).

Moral competencies, it appears, can be taught. However, this "teaching" must be different from traditional instruction and classroom management. It must be open and democratic and it must focus on creating a trustable and supportive learning environment, in which the learner can develop all his/her abilities in the best possible way, that is, not uniformly by drill. The latter method does not show any positive effect on moral-democratic learning besides some superficial, unsustainable adaptation and seems to have no impact on behavior. Effective moral and democratic learning, thus, requires teachers well trained in the art of creating productive learning environments (Lind, 2003).


Lerkiatbundit, S., Utaipan, P., Laohawiriyanon, C., & Teo, A., 2004: Randomized controlled study of the impact of the Konstanz method of dilemma discussion on moral judgement (submitted for publication). Full manuscript (password needed)

Lind, 2002. Ist Moral lehrbar? ... Berlin: Logos. ... more

Lind, 2003: Moral ist lehrbar... München: Oldenbourg. .. more.

Lind: 2004: The meaning and measurement of moral judgment competence revisitied. - A dual-aspect model. ... more.

Lind, 2005/in prep.: The effect size of the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion on moral-democratic learning.

Lipsey, M.W. & Wilson, D. B., 1993: The efficacy of psychological, educational and behavioral treatment. Confirmation from meta-analysis. American Psychologist, 48, 1181-09.


Randomized controlled study of the impact of
the Konstanz method of dilemma discussion on moral judgement

(submitted for publication; please do not quote)

Sanguan Lerkiatbundit, RPh, PhD
Assoc. Prof., Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Prince of Songkla University, Hadyai, Sonkla, Thailand
Parichat Utaipan, RPh, MSc
Chonlada Laohawiriyanon, PhD
Adisa Teo, PhD


The main objective of the study was to determine the effects of the Konstanz method of moral dilemma discussion (KMDD) on moral competence in the allied health students. The study employed the Moral Judgement Test (MJT) as the instrument to monitor the change of moral judgement. The test was translated from English into Thai and validated in 247 students in grade nine, grade twelve, and first and second year pharmacy students. Overall, the scale satisfies four validity criteria: preference hierarchy, quasi-simplex structure of stage preference, affective-cognitive parallelism, and positive correlation between education and moral competence score (C-index). Test-retest reliability with onemonth interval was 0.90.
Thirty-eight pharmacy technician students and 45 dental nurse students at a community college participated in the study to investigate the impact of KMDD. The subjects were randomly assigned into control (n=41) or experimental groups (n=42). The experiment group participated in a 90-min KMDD once a week for six consecutive weeks. The students in the control group also met once a week for six weeks to discuss the topics not related to ethics. All subjects completed the MJT before and after the intervention and again 6 months later.
At the start, the C-indexes between experiment and control groups were not different (0.21+0.13 and 0.25+0.16). The experiment group scored significantly higher the control did after the intervention (0.35+0.11 and 0.24+0.15), and six months later (0.34+0.11 and 0.24+0.14). The KMDD appears to be a practical and effective intervention for developing moral competence in the allied health students. The effect on moral competence persists at least six months after the intervention.


Sanguan Lerkiatbundit, Assoc. Prof.
Department of Pharmacy Administration
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Prince of Songkla University
Hadyai, Songkla, Thailand 90112
Tel and Fax: 66-074-428167