09 SES 02 A, Substantive and Methodological Issues in Assessing Social and Civic Skills and Mathematics
Recent years have witnessed signs of increasing political instability in many societies, amongst them even long-established democracies (Diamond, 2014; Mair, 2002). More voters tend to turn their backs on established political parties and giving preference to populist parties or candidates (Boogards, 2017), and in many countries there has been an increase in street protest movements like the so-called ‘yellow vests’ in France that further challenge many established political systems. Frequently, these developments have been linked the increased alienation of citizens from civic institutions, in particular from traditional political parties, as well as a response to growing globalisation and migration (Hobolt, Anduiza, Carkoglu, Lutz & Sauger, 2016). In the context of civic and citizenship education, it is important to review the extent of tendencies toward alienation among young people, and whether education has the potential of promoting democratic principles to counteract alienation among young emerging citizens.
Evidence suggests that young people who intend to participate in political activities are more likely to actually participate at a later point in time (Eckstein, Noack, & Gniewosz, 2013; Verb, Schlozmann, & Brady, 1995). However, throughout most of their adolescence, young people are not yet old enough to have access to many forms of citizenship participation in society. Some researchers (for example, Pancer, 2015; Quintelier & Hooghe, 2013) suggest that student participation in civic-related activities at school influences future citizenship engagement. If so, students’ current or past involvement in youth groups, school governance, or campaigns focused on civic issues may serve as a contextual factor in determining students’ civic-related learning outcomes.
With regard to political participation among adult citizens, scholars (see, for example, Kaase, 1990) tend to distinguish between “conventional” (such as voting or running for office) from “unconventional” (social movement) activities (grass-root campaigns, protest activities). Mindful of the rapid expansion of new types of political activities in recent years, van Deth (2014) proposed a classification of political participation that includes, in addition to conventional and unconventional types of engagement, problem-oriented or community-oriented forms of participation and individualized and creative modes of participation.
In reference to the theory of planned behaviour which links attitudes to action through intentions (Ajzen, 2001; Ajzen, & Fishbein, 2000), ICCS 2016 (Schulz, Ainley, Fraillon, Losito, Agrusti, & Friedman, 2018) measured students’ intentions to engage in the future and developed items measuring students’ beliefs about their likelihood of civic engagement in the future. This paper will focus on young people’s expectations to participate in legal or illegal activities (as “unconventional” forms of engagements) to express their opinions.
This paper uses data from 14 European countries that participated in the recent IEA study ICCS 2016 to explore the following research questions:
- To which extent are students expecting to participate in legal or illegal protest activities? It is expected that there are considerable differences across countries due to the variation in political cultures.
- Which effects do student background, prior engagement and perceptions institutions and their individual future have on students’ expected participation in legal and illegal activities? It is expected that in particular prior experiences and perceptions are key predictors of students’ expectations to engage in these activities, in particular lower levels of trust and negative perceptions of the future are expected to be associated with dispositions to engage in illegal activities.
- Which are the associations between factors related to the learning context (such as acquired civic knowledge, civic learning environment and school climate) on students’ expected participation in activities to express their opinions? It is expected that in particular civic knowledge has negative effects on students’ expectations to participate in illegal activities.
This paper will be based on data from 14 European countries participating in ICCS 2016 (Schulz et al., 2018; Losito, Agrusti, Damiani, & Schulz, 2018), which were collected through a student test, international and regional student questionnaires, as well as contextual questionnaires for schools and teachers (see Schulz, Carstens, Losito, & Fraillon, 2018). The analyses presented in this paper focus on student questionnaire results regarding their participation in civic activities at and outside of school, their expectations for their individual future, their perceptions of their learning contexts, their trust in institutions, and their disposition to participate in legal and illegal activities to express their opinions. In addition, it makes use of student background data (such as gender or home background), as well as test results regarding students’ civic knowledge. The analyses will consist of two parts. Firstly, the paper will describe the extent of students’ expected participation in legal and illegal activities to express their opinions. These results will be discussed in reference to differences across participating European countries. Secondly, the paper will include multivariate models that relate the two criterion variables (expected legal and illegal participation in activities) with each other as well as individual, home background, school context variables and perceptions of students’ individual future and their trust in established institutions. The paper will use descriptive analyses as well as multi-variate (path) models to describe the relationships between dependent and independent variables. Furthermore, consideration will be given to estimating two-level models with students nested within schools that use appropriate estimation methods (Raudenbush & Bryk, 2002). However, preliminary results have shown rather low proportions of between school level variance in the dependent variables which limit the usefulness of estimating hierarchical models. For the reporting of any single-level analyses jackknife repeated replication will be used for the calculation of appropriate standard errors.
ICCS 2016 results show that students’ expected participation in legal and illegal activities varied considerably across countries as well as the different forms of engagement. While more passive forms of engagement (such as conversations with other people) were expected by higher proportions, expectations of more active forms of participation (such as organising an online group) were less frequent. Only about every fifth lower-secondary student expected participation in illegal protest activities such as blocking traffic or spray-painting slogans. Students’ with higher levels of civic knowledge, more trust in established institutions, and females were less likely to consider forms of illegal protest activities. When asked about their willingness to consider engaging in civic activities in the future, majorities among lower-secondary students tended to indicate likely voting in school elections, joining campaigns or becoming involved in discussions at (informal) school assemblies, while less than half reported an expectation of standing as candidates or writing for school journals or websites. Students with interest in civic issues as well as females were more likely to expect engagement in civic activities at school. Associations with civic knowledge were positive in more than half of the countries but generally less consistent than for gender and student interest. While the international report on ICCS 2016 provided insights into the general extent and variation as well as some associations with background variables, this secondary research paper will make use of multivariate analysis methods in order to give a more detailed insights into the relationships with individual, home background, school context factors as well as civic learning and young people’s perceptions. Furthermore, the paper will aim at setting results into the broader context of differences between the European countries that participated in this study.
Ajzen, I. (2001). Nature and operation of attitudes. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 27-58. Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (2000). Attitudes and the attitude-behavior relation: Reasoned and automatic processes. European Review of Social Psychology, 11(1), 1–33. Boogards, M. (2017). Lessons from Brexit and Trump: populism is what happens when political parties lose control. Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 11:4, 513–518. Diamond, L. (2015). Facing up to democratic recession. Journal of Democracy, 26(1), 141–155. Eckstein, K., Noack, P., & Gniewosz, B. (2013). Predictors of intentions to participate in politics and actual political behaviors in young adulthood. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37(5), 428–435. Hobolt, S., Anduiza, E., Carkoglu, A., Lutz, G., & Sauger, N. (2016). Democracy Divided? People, Politicians and the Politics of Populism. CSES Planning Committee Final Report. Retrieved at: http://www.cses.org/plancom/module5/CSES5_ContentSubcommittee_FinalReport.pdf. Kaase, M. (1990). Mass participation. In M. K. Jennings, J. W. van Deth, S. H. Barnes, D. Fuchs, F. J. Heunks, R. F. Inglehart, M. Kasses, … J. J. A. Thomassen (Eds.), Continuities in political action: A longitudinal study of political orientations in three western democracies (pp. 23–67). Berlin, Germany/New York, NY: Walter de Gruyter. Losito, B., Agrusti, G., Damiani, V., & Schulz, W. (2018). Young People’s Perceptions of Europe in a Time of Change. The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016 European Report. Amsterdam: IEA. Mair P. (2002) Populist Democracy vs Party Democracy. In: Mény Y., Surel Y. (Eds.) Democracies and the Populist Challenge (pp 81-98). London: Palgrave Macmillan. Pancer, S. M. (2015). The psychology of citizenship and civic engagement. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Quintelier, E. & Hooghe, M. (2013). The relationship between political participation intentions of adolescents and a participatory democratic climate at school in 35 countries. Oxford Review of Education, 39(5), 567-589. Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Losito, B., Agrusti, G., & Friedman, T. (2018). Becoming citizens in a changing world. The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016 International Report. Amsterdam: IEA. Schulz, W., Carstens, R., Losito, B., & Fraillon, J. (Eds.) (2018). ICCS 2016 technical report. Amsterdam: IEA. van Deth, J. W. (2014). A conceptual map of political participation. Acta Politica, 49, 349–367. Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L., & Brady, H. E. (1995). Voice and equality. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
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