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Are you more civically minded than a sixth grader? An investigation of pre-service teacher civics and citizenship knowledge, understandings and dispositions

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The process of civics and citizenship education is a complex and multifaceted affair. Research in Australia and elsewhere has indicated a dearth of civics and citizenship understanding. To assist their students, schoolteachers need to be in command of the knowledge, understandings and dispositions related to civics and citizenship education. This article discusses teacher readiness for teaching this subject in primary schools, by asking a cohort of first year pre-service teachers to respond to a test recently administered to a sample of year six children (aged about 11 years) in Australia. The results were somewhat disconcerting, with numbers of the pre-service teachers furnishing incorrect answers. Patterns of incorrect answers and reasons for these are analysed, in the context of the student cohort and the education they have received to date, and the education they are to provide upon graduation. Beyond this, the test paper itself, and some of the assumptions it appears to make, as well as some of its silences, are also put under scrutiny. Some brief implications for teacher education, teaching, learning, assessment and socially just futures are also included.
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Keywords: assessment; citizenship education; civics education; civics teacher-education; critical thinking; social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Technology Sydney

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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  • Citizenship Teaching and Learning is global in scope, exploring issues of social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. It advances academic and professional understandings within a broad characterisation of education, focussing on a wide range of issues including identity, diversity, equality and social justice within social, moral, political and cultural contexts.
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