This Article on the use of social science research to design, implement, and assess educational programs for the development of professional identity has its origins in the opening presentation made at the 17th Annual Georgia Symposium on Professionalism and Legal Ethics, held on October 7, 2016 at Mercer Law School on the topic "Educational Interventions to Cultivate Professional Identity in Law Students." The Mercer Symposium invited speakers from a variety of disciplines to address a series of questions regarding the feasibility and worth of establishing an educational intervention and assessment program to facilitate professional identity formation.
This Article begins with a brief summary of initiatives in the legal profession and legal education that laid the foundation for the 2016 Mercer Law Review Symposium. Next, we review social science research illuminating the relationship between education, moral development, and professional identity formation, and explain how that research has been used to design ethics education for professionals that is guided by theory and grounded in evidence. In particular we explain the historical background and decades-long development of the Four Component Model of Morality (FCM) for understanding and measuring how four independent capacities-sensitivity, reasoning, motivation and implementation-interact in the accomplishment of professionally appropriate conduct. Extensive research shows a strong relationship between professional identity formation and moral motivation as well as evidence that a wellformed identity leads to enhanced competence in the other three capacities measured by the Four Component Model.
Finally, this Article puts FCM-based theory and research in the context of the other contributions on professional identity formation in this Symposium issue. The FCM will be shown to provide a theoretical scaffold for putting together pedagogical approaches to identity formation the other symposium authors describe in the context of medical, seminary, and law school education. Further the FCM supports empirically validated measurement tools to determine a baseline for entering students, support formative assessment, and measure outcomes at both the student and institutional level.
Bebeau, Muriel J.; Thoma, Stephen J.; and Cunningham, Clark D.
"Educational Programs for Professional Identity Formation: The Role of Social Science Research,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 68:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol68/iss3/5