Date of Conferral







William Steeves


The U.S. Army conducts extensive training on its core values beginning with initial entry training (IET), commonly referred to as basic training, in order to shape soldiers' behavior and decision making in combat and noncombat situations. This mixed methods study addressed the problem of limited empirical research on the effects of U.S. Army IET on soldiers' moral and character development. The purpose was to explore the effects of Military Police (MP) IET on soldiers in training through a mixed methods quantitative and qualitative model. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Rest's four component model (FCM) of moral development, Hart's model of moral identity, the schemas of the Defining Issues Test (DIT), and the U.S. Army's moral code consisting of the Army values, the Soldiers Creed, and the Warrior Ethos. The DIT was administered at the beginning and conclusion of MP IET to determine change in soldiers' moral judgment. Focus groups of MP IET soldiers identified perceptions of change in moral development. Data analysis using ANOVA and matched pair t tests of DIT scores revealed no significant changes in overall scores, no differences among age groups, and limited differences among genders and educational levels. Results showed significant decline in personal interest scores among females. Focus group results using qualitative content analysis revealed the relationship with drill sergeants as having a significant impact on moral development. This study provides feedback to trainers and leaders on designing effective moral and character education. Soldiers influence societies at home and abroad. This research shows that positive social change is more likely as soldiers receive moral and character education which focuses on developing moral expertise, not just memorization of rules, and which results in moral and trustworthy behavior.