The articles assembled in this issue of EERJ represent a considerable amount of consistent knowledge on civic education across Europe. They were produced as a variety of particular studies developed by some of the 20 countries that participated in the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) International Civic Education Project, initiated in 1994. This set of studies followed, re-examined or expanded the results of the second phase of the general study, looking at particular dimensions, combining or expanding aspects worked within the study, now focused on more restricted universes, or confined to more specific dimensions
This special issue of the European Educational Research Journal assembles a group of papers, some of which were presented in a symposium at the Lisbon European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) 2002, that highlight and discuss the data collected within the context of the Civic Education Study promoted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The involvement of the IEA in this area goes back to 1971 when a first civic education study involved a total of nine countries, all of which with long-established democratic regimes; in 1994 the IEA General Assembly decided to conduct a new study 'to identify and examine in a comparative framework the ways in which young people are prepared for their roles as citizens in democracies and societies aspiring to democracy' (Torney-Purta et al, 1999). This second study involved more than 20 countries, from a variety of geographical locations and political traditions, including countries that experienced recent democratic transitions (Amadeo et al, 2002; Torney-Purta et al, 2001). The study used an innovative methodology with a two-phase design, including both a qualitative analysis of national policies and practices, and the testing of national representative samples of adolescents at age 14 and attending upper secondary education (see Torney-Purta, 2003, this issue).
Obviously, we are dealing with a rich and extensive database (with more than 150,000 students overall), open to multiple analysis and interpretations, and that constitutes an impressive view on adolescents' political development across nations. This issue of the EERJ intends to be a contribution to that ongoing process of analysis and discussion. The authors address several dimensions of the IEA Civic Education Study, including the discussion of methodological issues related to test quality (see Nikolova & Lehman), the analysis of the impact of civic skills and knowledge on likelihood to vote (Maiello, Oser & Biedermann), the consideration of students' concepts of democracy both in terms of their relation to existing models of democracy (Husfeldt & Nikolova) and to their cultural appropriation in different countries (Kontogiannopoulou-Polydorides, Fragoulis, Zanni & Ntelikou), the exploration of how participation experiences relate to students' civic concepts, attitudes and engagement (Menezes), and the comparison between experts', teachers' and students' views on civic education (Mintrop). The articles focus on the data for 14 year-olds and/or upper secondary students, from a diversity of theoretical and disciplinary viewpoints, and stressing cross-national comparisons.
Naturally, this special issue does not intend to give a complete picture of the IEA Civic Education Study. However, the articles do bring new insights on the IEA data and raise further questions for research within the area of political development of adolescents - in terms of methodology, topics to be considered, and the significance of the results. Finally, in a time where democracies face particular tensions of integration and inclusion, in Europe and elsewhere, the articles also point out relevant implications for the design, implementation and evaluation of citizenship education projects within educational institutions and beyond.
A final word of personal appreciation is due to all the people who made this special issue possible: to Martin Lawn, who was most supportive and enthusiastic of this project from the start; to Maria do Céu Roldão, the co-editor of this issue, whose involvement was (as always) a pleasure and a privilege; to the authors for their notable work; to the reviewers for their comments and suggestions; and to Judith Torney-Purta, whose support throughout the whole IEA Civic Education Study was an inspiration for us all.
Isabel Menezes, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Porto University, Rua do Campo Alegre, 1055, P-4169-004 Porto, Portugal (email@example.com).
Amadeo, J-A., Torney-Purta, J., Lehmann, R., Husfeldt, V. & Nikolova, R. (2002) Civic Knowledge and Engagement. An IEA Study of Upper Secondary Students in Sixteen Countries. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
Torney-Purta, J., Schwille, J. & Amadeo, J-A. (1999) Citizenship Education across Countries: twenty-four case studies from the IEA Civic Education Project. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
Torney-Purta, J., Lehmann, R., Oswald, H. & Schulz, W. (2001) Citizenship and Education in Twenty-eight Countries. Civic Knowledge and Engagement at Age Fourteen. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.