Journal of East China Normal University(Educational Sciences) ›› 2023, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (4): 56-71.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2023.04.005

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Can Virtue Be Taught: Research on the Influence of Higher Education on the Development of College Students’ Moral Cognition

Wei Bao, Dechun Chen, Linnan Tong   

  1. Institute of Economics of Education / Graduate School of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Online:2023-04-01 Published:2023-03-11


The primary purpose of higher education is to enhance students’ moral responsibility awareness, to internalize their moral ethics, and to develop a sound personality. Faced with the transition and evolution of external social morality, the question of whether higher education can promote the development of students’ benign moral cognition has emerged as a critical academic and practical concern. Using data from a national survey of university students, this paper develops a system of observational indicators of moral cognition among university students and examines the moral cognitive qualities of contemporary youth in society-family-university setting. Additionally, we use ordered logistic regression and Shapley’s value decomposition to examine the influence effects and mechanisms of five major educational elements on students’ moral cognition development: institutional organizational endowment, curriculum instruction, extracurricular activities, faculty-student interaction, and peer effect. The study contributes to the theoretical understanding of moral teaching mechanisms in Chinese higher education. It provides scientific advice for the development of an all-encompassing, multi-level, and three-dimensional platform for moral education.

Key words: college influence, college students, moral cognition, moral education, Shapely value decomposition