The paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of ethics courses provided to Malaysian accounting students and their impact on ethical judgement‐making ability.
Third‐year accounting students from six Malaysian universities participated in a pre‐ and post‐ethics course study. The sample consisted of four universities which provide an ethics course (experiment group) and two universities which do not provide an ethics course (control group). Rest's Defining Issues Test instrument was employed and the p‐score was calculated. Univariate tests were used to compare levels of ethical judgement‐making ability.
Students who attended an ethics course improved significantly in their ethical judgement‐making ability compared to students who did not attend the course. Male students, non‐Muslim students and students in private universities benefit more from attending an ethics course compared to their female and Muslim students and those students in public universities.
The findings indicate that providing ethics courses reshapes the ethical thinking of future accountants and thus are likely to improve the local ethical climate amongst professionals in the field. Results indicate significant improvements in cognitive moral development, although many students continue to apply conventional (Stage 4) reasoning skills when dealing with issues. The research provides a positive signal to the accounting faculties indicating that their effort in inculcating ethical values is worthwhile and this endeavour has to continue.
This study involves a controlled field study of a unique group of Malaysian accounting students and applies Kohlberg's theory of moral development to demonstrate the effect of an ethics intervention. Particular attention was given to examining conventional (Stage 4) judgment‐making processes and how this appears to be influenced by religious affiliation and university type. This adds value to the ethics literature as there are only a few studies examining the merits of Stage 4 reasoning. Most importantly, it helps to fill a gap in the literature by providing both cross‐sectional and longitudinal data from multiple samples of ethics classes, using both experiment and control groups.
Mohamed Saat, M., Porter, S. and Woodbine, G. (2010), "The effect of ethics courses on the ethical judgement‐making ability of Malaysian accounting students", Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 92-109. https://doi.org/10.1108/19852511011088361Download as .RIS
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