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Building Schools for Civics and Citizenship Education: What Can We Learn from Civics Teaching in Different Democracies?

Asia
Europe (Central and Eastern)
Citizenship
Democracy
Political Psychology
Education
Comparative Perspective
Political Engagement
Frank Reichert
The University of Hong Kong
Frank Reichert
The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

School and classroom contexts matter significantly to the quality of students’ learning experiences and outcomes. Understanding the relationships between school contexts, classroom composition and student learning are core conditions for building schools that are well-suited to promote active and informed citizenship. Many studies have shown how an open, democratic classroom climate relates to learning gains in the citizenship domain and, thus, cultivates active and engaged citizens. However, most previous research has constrained itself to the study of classroom climate as a predictor of student learning, whereas little profound research has been undertaken to look at how such a favorable classroom climate is shaped by school factors and mediates the influence of the school context on student learning. The present Paper furthermore argues that national contexts matter; therefore, international comparative research is required to understand potentially varying relationships between school and classroom factors, and how these might result in differential effects on classroom climate and student learning. Building on the premise that effective schools can only be identified by examining school effects as a multilevel system, the present paper uses international and comparative large-scale data to examine the relationships between students’ perceived classroom climate and contextual variables at the school and country levels. Mediated effects are examined with respect to the question of how the latter variables might have indirect effects on students’ perceived classroom climate via teachers’ perceptions of civics and citizenship and their teaching approaches; and sequentially mediated effects are examined with respect to student learning outcomes (i.e. civic knowledge, internal political efficacy, civic and political participation). The results provide leverage points for designing schools that have the capacity to nurture active and informed citizens for democracies.