Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John A. Anderson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

J. Beth Mabry, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Valerie Gunter, Ph.D.


This research addresses moral decision making and the experience of public school principals. It also explores the possible influence mentoring has on principals’ abilities to confront complex decisions when clear ethical choices do not exist. This study incorporates a survey methodology, exploring the relationship between principal mentoring programs and schemas of morality in principals’ decision making. I used the Defining Issues Test-2 (Bebeau & Thoma, 2003; Rest & Narvaez, 1998) as the quantitative measurement tool to assess moral reasoning in this study. The survey also included questions about mentoring experiences and principal demographics. The DIT-2 uses the following three moral schemas that Rest (1973) identified: Personal Interest Schema, Maintaining Norms Schema, and Postconventional Schema. Rest based the three schemas on Kohlberg’s (1958) moral development theory, which provides a framework for understanding various levels of moral judgment. The first part of my research involves determining the moral schemas principals use when making moral judgments. Principals in various studies have not only identified a need to improve moral judgment, but also areas of improvement that would most benefit them (Dempster and Berry, 2003; Drago-Severson, 2012; Henry, 2010). As a result, the second part of my research explores how principal mentoring programs with an ethics component impact moral judgment in principals.