Compare and contrast piaget’s and kohlberg theories of moral develpment. which seems more relevent to the study of adolesecnts why

Moral education and moral development is becoming a of interest and importance in then field of psychology and education. The social problemsthat people face in the adolescence and adult life are related to social and moral education in schools. Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg were two psychologists who did extensive research on moral development in adolescents.
Both Piaget and Kohlberg believed that there were several philosophical and psychological stages of development in a child. While both believed that children passed through three levels of moral development, Kohlberg identified two stages in each of the three levels. Both believed that moral education could be enhanced through formal education and through cooperative decision-making and problem solving situations at school.
Piaget focused on the moral lives of children and believed that all development emerges form action. Morality results from social interaction. Piaget observed children of different ages while playing marbles and reached several conclusions. In another instance, he presented situations to children and asked them to suggest who should be punished. This test further confirmed that younger children looked at consequences while the older ones concentrated on the intent.
According to Piaget, in the first stage, upto the age of five, children do not understand morals or rules but Kohlberg asserted that individuals at this stage focus on the direct consequences that their actions will have for themselves. They are guided by punishment or rewards and have their own interest at hand.
Kohlberg explained in the second stage, children seek approval of others and they respond to the obligations of duty. Piaget believed that the second stage which lasts upto the age of nine is called moral realism. Here the children follow rules because they are there. The importance is on the wrong act itself and the consequences, and not on the intentions of the doer.
Piaget’s theory of the moral relativity stage starts at the age of seven and overlaps with the moral realism stage (Everything2, 2002). The children develop their own internal rules depending upon convenience and not rely on external rules. They start evaluating actions based on intentions. Kohlberg’s contention was that most adults do not reach the last stage (Barger, 2000). Nevertheless, they do demonstrate genuine interest in the welfare of others. Those who experienced this stage did exhibit respect for universal principles and followed their own conscience also. Kohlberg was not satisfied with the research, and felt adolescents should be presented with more dilemma situations.
Kohlberg’s study did not have the pre-moral stage as Piaget. He rejected the focus on values and virtues and he believed that moral education should encourage the individuals to move to the next stage of moral reasoning. Both these theories suggest that an individual starts receiving guidance from within and does not rely solely on external influence or rules. Kohlberg’s theory is more relevant to the study of adolescents because he went beyond the age studied by Piaget. In addition to Piaget’s contention that dilemma situations help an individual to develop, Kohlberg believed that students have to experience and operate as moral agents within a community (Tigger, 2005).
Barger R N (2000), A summary of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral
development, < http://www. nd. edu/~rbarger/kohlberg. html> 01 June 2006
Everything2 (2002), Piagets theory of moral development, <
http://www. everything2. com/index. pl? node_id= 1310569> 01 June 2006
Tigger (2005), Moral Development and Moral Education: An Overview, <
http://tigger. uic. edu/~lnucci/MoralEd/overview. html 01 June 2006