Patterns of motivation, moral and civic development in young Singaporeans
Date of Issue2010
National Institute of Education
Major global crises such as the surge of terrorism and the repercussions of the economic downturn have rekindled an interest in the development of morality and the nurturing of universal values and prosocial behaviour. To date, research on moral functioning and motivation has originated predominantly from Western contexts. This study aims to provide an Asian perspective to the existing models. It combines a Kohlbergian approach for the assessment of moral judgment, with a framework based on the Self-Determination Theory to assess the motivational regulations of Singaporean students. The findings indicate that, generally, the development of moral reasoning of the Singaporean students matches the level prescribed for their age group in Kohlberg’s theory. As regards to their motivation in Civics and Moral Education (CME), students showed a moderate degree of autonomous motivation and tended to display identified regulation to a higher degree than intrinsic motivation. There is however, a need to review the way in which Moral Education is conducted in schools in order to improve students’ motivation in the subject. In terms of their motivation towards prosocial behaviour, students again displayed high identified regulation. There were low correlations between moral development stage and the more autonomous forms of motivation, but no correlation was observed between motivation towards prosocial behaviour and moral development stage. This study thus shows that at least in the context of Singapore, students understand the value of CME, but their moral development is more likely to be influences by other external factors rather than the CME curriculum per se.