Six Subject Survey: Civic Education

The IEA Study of Civic Education aimed to investigate how and to what extent objectives of citizenship education were being achieved by education systems and what other influences beside the school (such as family, mass media, or friends) were important.

One of the major issues addressed was whether a single quality, that of the 'good citizen', could be identified—or whether there were several different and independent civic attitudes. The research instruments included a knowledge test and questionnaire to measure the affective and behavioral aspects of student outcomes, as well as background questionnaires for students, teachers, and school principals. The study was carried out as part of the Six Subject Survey, which also investigated achievement in English as a foreign languageFrench as a foreign languageliterature educationreading comprehension, and science. The data were collected in 1970–1971.

Target population

The target populations were 10-year-old students, 14-year-old students, and students in the final year of secondary school.

Participating education systems

Finland, Germany (FRG), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and United States.

England and Iran participated in the initial phase of the project.

Key findings

Civic knowledge and attitudes

The highest achievement on civic knowledge for primary school students was found in Italy. Middle school students received the highest scores in the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, and the United States. The top performing countries at the secondary school level were New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden.

Students' level of civic knowledge was found to be related to three attitudinal factors: support for democratic values, support for national government, and civic interest and participation. There were differences between countries with respect to students' views on women's rights, with the most supportive attitudes found in Germany, Sweden, and Finland.

Related school and classroom characteristics

Differences between countries in achievement outcomes could not be attributed to differences in curricula. However, the use of rote learning and patriotic ritual had negative effects, while freedom of expression in the classroom was beneficial for higher performance on the achievement test.

Countries differed with respect to the influence of the classroom and home environment on moral reasoning. Classroom climate had a strong impact on moral reasoning in Germany and the Netherlands and also, to a smaller extent, in Ireland. In Finland, the home had the strongest influence on the development of moral reasoning.

Major publications

Bloom, B.S. (1969). Cross-national study of educational attainment: Stage I of the I.E.A. investigation in six subject areas (Vols. 1–2). Washington, DC: Office of Education (DHEW).

Oppenheim, A.N., & Torney, J. (1974). The measurement of children's civic attitudes in different nations. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Passow, A.H., Noah, H.J., Eckstein, M.A., & Mallea, J.R. (1976). The national case study: An empirical comparative study of twenty-one educational systems. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Peaker, G.F. (1975). An empirical study of education in twenty-one countries: A technical report. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Torney, J.V., Oppenheim, A.N., & Farnen, R.F. (1975). Civic education in ten countries: An empirical study. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.

Walker, D.A. (1976). The IEA Six Subject Survey: An empirical study of education in twenty-one countries. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.