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

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Scavone, MC (2014) Teacher and learner perceptions of student-initiated active citizenship in primary schools. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Copyright Holders: Mellina Scavone
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2014 the author

Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 22:17
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:52
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