Part of Unit: Theories of Development
Lesson Plan Overview / Details
In this lesson, students will examine Kohlebrg's theory of moral development. Students will identify and discuss the developmental changes that occurs throughout our lives in four distinct stages.
- 1 Hour
California Career and Technical Education Standards
Consumer and Family Studies (CFS) Standards Detail
Students understand the importance of studying growth and development from infancy through adolescence.
3.5 Identify and compare various theories regarding human growth and development (ECDFS-F 10.35)
Objectives and Goals
Students will analyze and discuss Kohlberg's theory of moral development and will create an original skit based on one of Kohlberg's stages.
Activities in this Lesson
- Hook - Hooks / Set
Guided visualization—tell students to close their eyes (if students are uncomfortable closing their eyes, its okay to keep them open) and listen to the scenario:
Imagine that you’re at the mall shopping for new clothes. You find several items that you like, however you can only afford to buy one. You decide to try them on to see which one looks best on you. As you enter the dressing room, you notice a wallet on the floor. You open the wallet and there are several credit cards, a photo ID, and $200 in cash. As you look through the wallet, a few things might cross your mind:
- “I really need these clothes. Nobody will ever know if I just take the cash and leave the wallet in here on the floor. That way, I can get the clothes I want without the risk of getting caught!”
- “I really like these clothes, so I want to take the money. If I take the wallet though, someone might find out and I could get in big trouble—if I use the credit cards I might even get prosecuted. I think I will turn the wallet in to the sales clerk, even though I want to keep it.”
- “I’d like to keep the cash, but I want the owner of the wallet and the salespeople to commend me for my honesty. Maybe the owner of the wallet will call and thank me for turning the wallet in and even give me a reward.”
- “Although I would like to keep the cash, stealing is wrong and I just couldn’t live with myself if I stole the cash. I will call the owner of the wallet since I have their contact info on their photo ID.”
NOTE: Either display the above three thought-quotes on an overhead projector, or pass out a slip of paper with the three typed on it.
Tell students that they can now open their eyes. Students will respond to the following quick-write prompt (write prompt question on board, display on overhead, or print copies of prompt):
Which of the previous 3 thought-processes are you most likely to have after finding a wallet—how would you make your decision (i.e based on satisfying your own needs, avoiding getting caught, or simply because you think to keep it would be morally wrong)? Explain WHY you chose the one thought-process / action that you chose.
Ask 3-5 students to share their responses aloud.
- Lecture - Lecture
Begin by explaining to students that Lawrence Kohlberg studied moral development by posing this type of moral scenarios to young boys and girls (NOTE: one of the limitations if Kohlberg’s work is that his research involved mostly young boys so there is gender bias in his research).
Based on his research, Kohlberg came up with a theory of moral development, which centers on three stages of moral development:(Stage 1: Preconventional-physical consequences & what suits self, Stage 2: Conventional—winning approval of group, for the sake of social order, Stage three: Post Conventional—decisions/actions are based on a genuine desire for general “good”, defined by conscience/moral reasoning).
Ask students to look back at their response to the quick write (See “hook”), and ask students to try to determine which stage of moral development their decision was based on. Allow 2-3 students to share out (preferably one student per stage of moral development, if possible). You might use the following series of questions to elicit one response for each stage of moral development:
- Was anyone’s decision based on avoiding the consequences of being caught? Was anyone’s decision simply based on satisfying your own needs / desires to have the money? [according to Kohlberg, this is pre-conventional thinking]
- Was anyone’s decision based on wanting the salesperson and owner of the wallet to be grateful and praise you? [according to Piaget, this is conventional reasoning]
- Was anyone’s decision based on a personal belief that stealing the wallet is wrong and the belief that honesty is ideal? [according to Piaget, this is post-conventional reasoning]
- Guided Practice - Guided Practice
Reading & Skits:
- Put students in groups of four or five (note: depending on your classroom management preferences, you may want to assign groups versus letting students choose their own groups).
- Tell groups to begin by reading the handout titled “Lawrence Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development.” Groups can choose to read aloud, round-robin style OR students can simply read the handout silently. Give students 5-10 minutes to complete the reading.
- While students are reading, walk around to each group and hand them a slip of scratch paper with the stage that they will be making their skit about. Try to divide the stages of moral development evenly so that no one stage is overrepresented in the skits. TELL STUDENTS TO KEEP THEIR STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT A SECRET FROM OTHER GROUPS!
- Students should be given about 10-minutes to prepare their skits. While groups are preparing their skits, the teacher should move through room to provide spot-check support to ensure that each group understands, and is accurately depicting, each stage of development. It is helpful to give students a reminder when they have 3-4 minutes of prep time remaining.
- Once all groups have finished preparing for their skits, groups will begin presenting in front of the class (either allow groups to voluntarily go—or it may be necessary to assign the order of the presentations).
- While the groups are presenting their skits, the rest of the class should be trying to determine which stage is being depicted in the skit (NOTE: remind students to remain quiet and polite while the other groups are presenting).
When each skit is over, give all groups an opportunity to guess which stage was depicted. The group should also be prepared to explain their answer. [OPTIONAL: if you would like to make this a competitive game with points earned, you could give each group points for guessing the correct answer first.]
- Reading.Kohlberg [ Download ]