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The current Conference time is: 21st Jan 2022, 07:11:31am CET

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Parallel sessions - B.2 Investigating Civic And Citizenship Education At 8th Grade: Insights From The International Civic And Citizenship Education Study (Iccs 2016)
Friday, 04/June/2021:
9:00am - 11:15am

Session Chair: Valeria Damiani
Session Chair: Gabriella Agrusti
Location: Room 1
Session Panels:
B.2. Investigating Civic and Citizenship Education At 8th Grade: Insights from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (Iccs 2016)

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Beatrice Donati1,2, Emanuele Sbaffi3, Flaviano Fanfani2

1Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia; 2Terza Cultura Società Cooperativa, Italia; 3Laboratorio Didattico Ambientale Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Italia

We want to present the teacher training project "Sustainability Education in the Civic Education curriculum: small steps towards an educational community". The course, funded by the Metropolitan City of Florence, is helded by the Environmental Education Lab of the Metropolitan City (LDA) in collaboration with Terza Cultura (TC), a spin-off of the University of Florence dedicated to science dissemination and educational services.

In 2019 a reform of the Italian school system was approved, including the reintroduction of compulsory teaching of Civic Education(CE) in all primary and secondary schools, starting from 2020/2021 s.y. The first element of novelty is that CE will be an interdisciplinary subject, involving the entire teaching staff. A second element of innovation can be found in the contents covered, such as: digital citizenship, bullying and cyberbullying, environmental education, sustainable development. These topics, and the related competences, are clearly in line with prominent political and cultural goals of our time, with a specific reference to the UN SD Agenda 2030[1].We therefore decided to offer a teacher training course that provides tools for design, evaluation and testing of CE activities, with a particular focus on Sustainability Education. It started in December 2020 with a round-table between schools, educators, researchers and local institutions, which aimed to identify the needs of all stakeholders involved in the educational process. In addition a questionnaire has been submitted to approximately twenty schools, in order to detect the state of the art for CE Curricula.The programme resumed in march 2021 with a series of online activities where teachers are proposed to design original projects supported by expert educators and researchers. At the end of this second phase, in june 2021, a selection of the projects will be chosen for further experimentation. The selected projects will be in fact experimented in class in 2021/2022 s.y. As a main product of this research a document of “guidelines for sustainability education in the civic education curriculum” will be drawn up as a publicly available tool. As regards the methodologies, the activity remained faithful to the pedagogical approach of LDA and to the active learning methods of TC, despite the constraint of online learning. LDA, based inside the beaufiul medicean park of Pratolino, offers environmental experiences to pupils and teachers of primary and secondary schools. The LDA aims to promote a change of behavior towards the environment, the community and oneself, in the sense of sustainability. The epistemological reference is the culture of complexity [2] and consequently the educational actions are all based on a systemic approach (eco-systemic, socio-systemic ...) and not on a normative or transmissive methodology [3][4].

1) Unesco, Education for Sustainable Development Goals: learning objectives, Unesco,Paris, 2017

2) Bocchi G., Ceruti M. (a cura di), La sfida della complessità, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1985

3) Borgarello G., Bottiroli A., Progettazione e ricerca in educazione ambientale, Regione Piemonte, Torino, 1997
4) Del Gobbo G., Dall’ambiente all’educazione. Materiali di studio tra teoria, metodologia e pratiche, Tirrenia, Edizioni Del Cerro, 2007


Katrin Hahn-Laudenberg1, Hermann Josef Abs2

1University of Wuppertal, Germany; 2University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany


Adults differentiate between national and supranational political institutions, when they are asked whom they trust (Muñoz, 2017). But, how far have 14-year-olds already developed differentiated attitudes toward multilevel governments? In this paper, we applied two hypotheses about the relation between national and supranational trust to 14-year-old students. The congruence hypothesis assumes that the attitudes towards the European Union (EU) are basically grounded in heuristics, which are based in particular on limited information about the processes of supranational institutions (Harteveld, van der Meer & Vries, 2013). Following this hypothesis, one would expect a high correlation between political trust on national and supranational level. The compensation hypothesis, conversely, assumes that the evaluation of the national system influences the evaluation of the EU system in the opposite direction. Citizens in countries with a lower trustworthiness in the national institutions would trust the EU institutions more, while citizens from countries with a high level of democratic governance would raise the bar and this would lead to a more critical evaluation of the EU (Muñoz, Torcal & Bonet, 2011). We further assume that the civic knowledge makes a difference, which hypothesis is more adequate to apply.


The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) examines the extent to which 14-year-old students are prepared for their roles as citizens in a democracy. Within the EU, ICCS 2016 surveyed about 46,500 students in 14 educational systems. The study provides a test-based estimate for the civic knowledge as well as attitudinal scales. Aligned with computations of Muñoz (2017), we analyze the relation of trust in national political institutions and trust in supranational political institutions. Analysis further use the Corruption Perceptions Index as an indicator for the trustworthiness of national institutions. Calculations of mean values and correlations take into account population weights and corrected standard errors (jackknife).


Relations between national and supranational trust and their dependency on civic knowledge vary systematically based on the level of perceived corruption in the respective EU- member states. The underlying rational of the congruence hypotheses is supported by a closer correlation for less knowledgeable students. However, in countries with lower levels of good governance, we find support for the compensation hypotheses. In these countries differences between national and (higher) supranational trust turns out to be larger, especially for more knowledgeable students. The results underline that students already develop differentiated political attitudes at the age of 14. Following, civic education at lower secondary level plays an important role in for formation of future citizens.


Harteveld, E., van der Meer, T., & Vries, C. E. D. (2013). In Europe we trust? Exploring three logics of trust in the European Union. European Union Politics, 14(4), 542–565.

Muñoz, J. (2017). Political trust and multilevel government. In S. Zmerli & T. van der Meer (Hrsg.), Handbook on political trust (p. 69–88). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Muñoz, J., Torcal, M., & Bonet, E. (2011). Institutional trust and multilevel government in the European Union: Congruence or compensation? European Union Politics, 12(4), 551–574.


Laura Palmerio, Elisa Caponera


Students’ learning outcomes in the field of civic and citizenship education (CCE) are not only the result of teaching and learning processes but also of their daily experiences at school (Scheerens 2009). School experiences and their impact on learning outcomes are of particular importance, particularly as they aim at developing learning outcomes that are not confined to the area of cognitive achievement but also include attitudes and dispositions for engagement. In this perspective, several factors may contribute to characterize the schools as ‘democratic learning environment’ (Council of Europe 2018). Among those, students’ and teachers’ participation at school plays a key role (Schulz et al. 2016, 2018).

This study aims at analyzing the relationships between students’ civic knowledge and students’ and teachers’ participation in Italian schools, using data from 3,287 eight-grade Italian students participating in IEA ICCS 2016.

Firstly, Italian schools sampled for ICCS 2016 were grouped into two categories: high-SES and low-SES schools.

The descriptive statistics confirmed that a high school SES has a significant and positive effect on student achievement: compared with students from socio-economic disadvantaged schools, students from advantaged schools performed better in civic knowledge.

Secondly, the study explored the relations between students’ civic knowledge and selected variables related to students’ and teachers’ participation in school life.

A two-level hierarchical regression analysis was conducted, through MPLUS, to measure these relationships. The same multilevel regression model was used on the sampled schools as a whole and treating schools with high (highest tertile) and low (lowest tertile) socio-economic backgrounds as distinct groups.

Student participation at school was positively associated with civic knowledge only in schools with a high SES level.

As for teachers’ participation at school, results showed different patterns depending on the school SES level: teachers' perception of teacher participation at school was positively associated with civic knowledge in schools with a high level of SES, while it was negatively associated with civic knowledge in schools with a low SES level.

In order to explore these results more in depth, a small group of schools was selected and their Self-evaluation Reports (RAV) were analyzed. Through this qualitative analysis, several school characteristics were identified that may be related to the observed results of the quantitative study.

Results are discussed in relation to the characteristics of the education system in Italy.


Council of Europe (2018). Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture. Strasbourg: Author.

Scheerens, J. (Ed.). (2009). Informal learning of active citizenship at school: An international comparative study in seven European countries. Dordrecht: Springer.

Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Losito, B. & Agrusti, G. (2016). IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016. Assessment Framework. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Losito, B., Agrusti, G., Friedman, T. (2018b). Becoming Citizens in a Changing World. IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016 International Report. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).


Bruno Losito

Roma Tre University, Italy

The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS)- 2016 is the fourth international comparative study organized by the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). The first one was included in the so called Six Subjects Survey carried out in the early Seventies of the last century (Torney et al. 1975), followed by the second study that took place in 1999, CIVED ’99 (Torney-Purta et al. 2001).

IEA implemented ICCS as a cycle of comparative studies of civic and citizenship education. ICCS 2009 was the first in the cycle and ICCS 2016 was the second. Results are reported in several international reports (Schulz et al. 2011, Schulz et al. 2018) as well as in regional reports (Losito et al. 2018, Schulz et al. 2018).

ICCS 2016 addressed research questions concerned with the following (Schulz et al. 2016):

(1) Students’ knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship and the factors associated with this civic knowledge.

(2) Students’ current and expected future participation in civic-related activities, their engagement in these activities, and their perceptions of the value of civic engagement.

(3) Students’ beliefs about contemporary civil and civic issues in society, as well as their perceptions of their communities and threats to the world’s future.

(4) The ways in which countries organize civic and citizenship education.

Data from more than 94,000 students in their eighth year of schooling in about 3800 schools from 24 countries (form Asia, Europe, and Latin America) were collected. The following data collection tools were used: a student cognitive test and three contextual questionnaires (student, teacher, and school questionnaires).

Results showed considerable variations in civic knowledge within and across countries. While in some countries the average student demonstrated a high level of knowledge related to topics and issues concerning civics and citizenship, in other countries the average student showed only basic levels of knowledge in this area. Large differences between the highest and lowest achieving students were registered in almost all participating countries.

These results indicate that there is still room for improvement in this area of school education, mainly in relation to low achieving students. There is no obvious recommendation about the best way to organize civic and citizenship education. ICCS 2016 data indicate that across countries different approaches to CCE are adopted and that within countries different approaches often coexist in many education systems.


Elia Pasolini

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna, Italy

The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) is one of the most important researches on students’ learning outcomes in the field of civics. Many Italian schools have been involved in its 2016 edition. With this work, we will present some secondary analysis of ICCS 2016 data, to shed light on Italian 8th-grade students’ knowledge and attitudes in the field of civic and citizenship education.

Following many national and international studies we have structured a framework for the analysis based on three main aspects of citizenship: knowledge, participation, and attitudes. To provide a comprehensive picture, we have selected nine different variables from the ICCS2016 dataset. In particular, for structuring the first aspect we have included only one variable: “civic knowledge”, which is the most important construct of ICCS. For the second main aspect – participation – we have considered four different indexes: “Students’ participation at school”, “Students' expected active political participation”, “Students' expected participation in legal activities”, and “Students' participation in the wider community”. Considering the instruments’ specifications, it was impossible to reflect on students' abilities, therefore these indexes provide evidence on their declarations about actual and future participation. Finally, the third main aspect – attitudes – was structured by four indexes: “Students' perception of the importance of conventional citizenship”, “Students' perception of the importance of personal responsibility for citizenship”, “Students' endorsement of equal rights for immigrants” and “Students' endorsement of gender equality”.

For each of these nine dependent variables, a regression model was tested, to analyze the combined effects of fourteen explanatory variables on students’ civic knowledge and attitudes. We selected the regressors in order to provide insights about students’ background in terms of personal situation (gender, interest in civic topics, socioeconomic and migratory status), context (geographic macro-area, urbanization, poverty, ethnic tensions, and criminality in the community), and opportunities inside and outside school (perception of openness in classroom discussions, reports on civic learning activities, opportunities to participate in community activities, teachers' preparedness in civic education, availability of resources in local community).

This model resulted to be a modestly good predictor for the nine dependent variables. In eight cases out of nine, it proved to explain at least 10% of their variance (adjusted R-squared > 0,10). In two different analyses, the share of variance explained was greater than 20%. The regressors which proved to have a statistically significant effect on at least 6 out of 9 dependent variables were: interest in civic topics, socioeconomic status, gender, macro-area, openness in classroom discussions, and reports on civic learning activities. These variables showed a greater relation with students’ civic knowledge and attitudes. Other regressors showed statistically significant effects on less than 6 dependent variables.

These analyses provide suggestions about possible ways to explain students’ civic knowledge and attitudes, and therefore to offer a better civic education. As it is an exploratory study, its results shall be interpreted as a starting point from which to proceed with future research.


Gabriella Agrusti

LUMSA, Italy

Reading comprehension appears to be inextricably linked with the development of knowledge and skills related to civic and citizenship education or civic and citizenship education (CCE). The EU Council Recommendation of May 2018 on key competencies for lifelong learning states how, within the broader functional literacy competence, comprehension of written information, knowledge of vocabulary, functional grammar on different types of texts, linked to the ability to evaluate information and use it, represent the essential prerequisite for "understanding and using language in a positive and socially responsible way".
International research offers, with the IEA-ICCS survey in its various cycles, operationalisation of the constructs linked to the learning of CCE, which are detected through paper-and-pencil tests - or more recently, with a computer-based assessment. Starting with an analysis of the IEA-ICCS 2016 survey framework, the contribution aims to consider the inferential pathways that respondents may have put in place in solving the tests themselves, starting with the analysis of the texts preceding the questions, the questions themselves and the response alternatives in the case of formulated response questions. The implications for teaching and learning practices will be also discussed.


Valeria Damiani

LUMSA University, Italy

This contribution presents an analysis of civic and citizenship education in Europe at 8th grade by integrating the most relevant information from the latest Eurydice report (2017) with the results of the second cycle of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS, 2016) promoted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Eurydice reports information about national regulations related to CCE in 42 education systems in Europe. ICCS (2016) is a large-scale international assessment that aims to investigate the ways in which students in eighth grade in different countries of the world are prepared to become citizens. In 2016, 14 European countries, among the 24 participants in the survey, were involved in the study (Schulz et al., 2018).

The integration between the Eurydice (2017) and ICCS (2016) data, that were both collected in 2016, allows to represent the context of CCE in Europe from a double perspective: (1) the national one, through the studies of the European network of education and the information collected through the National Context Survey (NCS); (2) the perspective of schools, using the data collected through the ICCS 2016 school and teacher questionnaires, which allow gathering data on school heads and teachers points of views and practices.

Results highlighted a gap between theory and practice, between ministerial guidelines and school reality. This aspect is particularly evident with regard to the approaches declared at the central level and those adopted by individual schools. Secondly, results showed the extreme variety that characterizes CCE both at the system level and at the level of school practice not only between countries but also within the same country. The aspects that have been analyzed in this contribution do not allow for the identification of common practices or similar educational policies across Europe and mirror a wide-ranging picture.

Given this variety, which characterizes the CCE in the various educational systems, in order to fully understand the different characteristics of civic and citizenship education, it is therefore necessary to integrate the data presented with in-depth analysis of the different school realities and educational policies at the country level.

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