The Defining Issues Test (DIT) is an internationally used instrument that measures an individual’s moral reasoning skills—that is, how an individual explains right and just action. DIT scores are correlated with age and education, and they are also correlated with clinical performance when administered to professional practitioners. Practicing signed language interpreters’ scores, however, were not reflective of their age and education in one study, being much lower than those of practitioners from other professions. Providing communication access for individuals who do not share the same language as their service providers is grounded in social justice and equity, yet practicing interpreters’ DIT scores did not reflect higher-order justice skills. The current study investigates American Sign Language interpreting students’ DIT performance. Over the course of 3 years, different classes of third-year interpreting students in an undergraduate program in the United States took the DIT. Each year, the students’ average scores were significantly higher than those of working interpreters (n = 80). This result raises the question of whether, how, and why years of interpreting experience curtail ethical development. A follow-up study with one student class (n = 32) also found that taking the DIT as a collective, meaning that answers were negotiated among group members, resulted in higher scores than the group members’ individual median scores. This additional finding adds credence to educational approaches that focus on ethical discussion and deliberation of interpreting practice.
Dean, Robyn; Samar, Vincent; and Maffia, Daniel
"Are Two Heads Better Than One? Interpreting Students’ Moral Reasoning Skills,"
International Journal of Interpreter Education: Vol. 14:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/ijie/vol14/iss1/4