Moral Education

The IntegrityDLM Competences: Creating Moral Reference Points

The IntegrityDLM helps students to develop  the competences of ‘Integrity Awareness’ and ‘Integrity Assertiveness.’

 In ‘Integrity Awareness,’ students  identify, articulate and engage with their intrinsic core values. They become more aware of WHO they are, WHAT they STAND FOR, and the IMPACT they would like to have on their personal and professional life.

In ‘Integrity Assertiveness’, students develop and learn to apply a values-based response mechanism that empowers them to counter rationalizations and DO what they KNOW is the right thing to do when facing ethical pressure.

The inspiration for these competences is the recognition that while moral reasoning is indisputably important, the link between moral reasoning capacities and moral action is seen as weak (Blasi,1980).  Narvaez and Bock have remarked that the centrality of deliberative reasoning in behavior is a fading paradigm across psychology. (Narvaez & Bock, 2014). The disparity between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ has become increasingly evident across psychology fields and has occasioned a shift in mainstream psychology. (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999)  This disparity underscores  a learning gap in professional training, i.e., how do you train professionals to act in alignment with their intentions?

This learning gap is supported by a central finding of a OECD report on ‘Behavioral Insights for Public Integrity’ (OECD,2018), namely, that an individuals’ moral choices can be affected ‘by emphasizing or raising their ‘moral reference points’. The report references evidence that a small message, a ‘moral reminder’, can be sufficient to induce ethical reflection. It also notes that moral choices can be invoked be by creating commitments and by mentally preparing individuals for ethical temptations. This notion of focusing on ‘behavioral’ aspects in professional training by creating moral reference points, moral reminders and facilitating mental preparation for ethical temptations, is at the heart of the IntegrityDLM. 

With the competences of Integrity Awareness and Integrity Assertiveness, students develop ‘ethical expertise’ (Narvaez & Bock, 2014) by becoming more aware of their intrinsic core values and principles, and by learning what steps to apply when confronted with ethical pressures.


A. Blasi, ‘Bridging moral cognition and moral action: A critical review of the literature (1980) 88 Psychological Bulletin 1

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Behavioural Insights for Public Integrity: Harnessing the Human Factor to Counter Corruption (OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, 2018)

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (Basic Books, 1999)

Darcia Narveaz and Tonia Bock, ‘Developing Ethical Expertise and Moral Personalities’ in Larry Nucci, Darcia Narvaez and Tobias Krettenauer (eds) Handbook of Moral and Character Education (Chapter 9, Routledge, 2014) 141

Moral Education

The Training Gap

My Starting Point: The Integrity Digital Learning Module (IntegrityDLM) is my answer to a question I struggled with while designing the Compliance Minor curriculum of the LAW Program at the Hague University of Applied Sciences. As the continuing news of financial and corruption scandals shows, professionals, who have been trained in what is right and wrong, are not ACTING on that knowledge. There is a gulf between the ‘head knowledge’ acquired in trainings, such as mine, and their actual actions in the workplace.

This is not a question of HOW to make a ‘Good’ or a ‘Right’ decision.  In most cases well-trained professionals already KNOW what the right thing to do is. Rather, this is symptomatic of a gap between ‘KNOWING’ and ‘DOING’. This gap between ‘intention’ and ‘action’ undermines the best anti-corruption and white-collar crime prevention efforts. 

My Question: Can we train our professionals to ACT in the way they ALREADY KNOW is RIGHT? Can we make them more resilient in the face of ethical pressures? Can we capitalize on the years before they enter the work field to better prepare them for such pressures?  Can we better address the gap between ‘intention’ and ‘action’ in our undergraduate curriculum courses with an ethical component?  

My Teaching Innovation:  Using established theories and pedagogies, my teaching innovation sponsored by a  Netherlands Initiative for Education Research, Comenius Senior Fellow Grant, is the IntegrityDLM. This is a private, safe place, for students to start on a very personal journey of self-reflection and integrity skills development. Using the IntegrityDLM, students are made more aware of their personal integrity frameworks. Students develop moral ‘reminders’, ‘commitment’ & ‘reference points’ to encourage moral intentionality. Moral intention is expressed in ‘core values’ and ‘personal codes of conduct.’  Moral action, is rehearsed in pre-scripted responses to common reasons and rationalizations.

Using the IntegrityDLM, students learn more about their moral identity and HOW to empower themselves to DO what they already KNOW is right in the face of moral pressure.  The module adapts for use pedagogy developed by (1)  Sheehan and Schmidt, ‘Preparing accounting students for ethical decision making: Developing individual codes of conduct based on personal values’, J. of Acc. Ed. 33 (2015) 183–197 and  Mary Gentile,  Giving Voice to Values, How to Speak your Mind when you know what is right, 2010, Yale University Press.

Using exercises that facilitate personal values identification; values-based responses to ethical dilemmas; and values-based post decision making strategies that encourage living in alignment with core values, students begin to develop the moral resilience to bridge the gap between what they ‘know’, and what they ‘do’. 


NRO Projectendatabase Onderwijsonderzoek, A.O.Makinwa,  Integrity Education Using an Anti-Corruption Compliance Digital Learning Module,