University Of Tasmania
Scavone_Mellina_EPF420_Dissertation.pdf (541.4 kB)

Teacher and learner perceptions of student-initiated active citizenship in primary schools

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:21 authored by Scavone, MC
Active citizenship is an important aspect of global education, assisting students to develop the understanding that they can make a difference in the world, as well as encouraging students to develop empathy, self-confidence and moral thinking. Whilst active citizenship can assist students in their preparation for the future, it is rarely occurring to its full extent in schools. Research shows that students in Australian primary schools generally take a secondary role in active citizenship, participating most frequently in teacher-chosen projects, rudimentary service learning or no projects at all, rather than being a part of the decision-making process. Considerable benefits have been reported for students when they take an active and informed role in meaningful projects, such as a feeling of empowerment, a sense of pride, greater self esteem, and positive effects on schoolwork and mood. This study aimed to uncover perceptions of student-initiated active citizenship, from the viewpoints of students, school staff and volunteers in two Australian primary schools. The study also sought teacher and school staff perceptions of the relevance of student-initiated active citizenship, gaining an indication of how much space teachers feel is in the curriculum for active citizenship opportunities in the upper primary classroom. The research is a partial replication of Hannam's pilot study into the impact of student participation in secondary schools in England, but on a smaller scale, concentrating only on the impact for schools and school communities. This phenomenological study took a qualitative approach to data collection, focusing on understanding participants' lived experience of active citizenship through semi-structured interviews. The findings from this study revealed that students perceived the experience of benefits such as enhanced mood, changes in their way of thinking and feeling pride in themselves. Teachers perceived the most beneficial aspects of the students' active citizenship to be the development of important life skills, and students learning to make decisions and act independently. Teachers perceived the difficulties being that active citizenship is time consuming, and the students observed the organisational aspects of their projects to be the most significant difficulty. Overall, the data revealed that students and school staff perceive great benefits from students participating in informed active citizenship projects.


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