Lawrence Kohlberg is one example of a psychologist working on descriptive ethics. In one study, for example, Kohlberg questioned a group of boys about what would be a right or wrong action for a man facing a moral dilemma: should he steal a drug to save his wife, or refrain from theft even though that would lead to his wife's death?  Kohlberg's concern was not which choice the boys made, but the moral reasoning that lay behind their decisions. After carrying out a number of related studies, Kohlberg devised a theory about the development of human moral reasoning that was intended to reflect the moral reasoning actually carried out by the participants in his research. Kohlberg's research can be classed as descriptive ethics to the extent that he describes human beings' actual moral development. If, in contrast, he had aimed to describe how humans ought to develop morally, his theory would have involved prescriptive ethics.
On a larger scale, the International Association for the Evaluation of
Education Achievement (IEA) has done major descriptive studies comparing
the academic achievement levels of students in many different nations,
including the United States (Borg & Gall, 1989). Within the United
States, huge amounts of information are being gathered continuously by
the Office of Technology Assessment, which influences policy concerning
technology in education. As a way of offering guidance about the potential
of technologies for distance education, that office has published a book
called Linking for Learning: A New Course for Education, which offers
descriptions of distance education and its potential.