Testing citizens
: models of assessment for citizenship education

  • Mary Richardson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The notion of some kind of civic education providing a solution to English society’s problems is nothing new and Citizenship Education is perceived as one means of addressing so-called social deficits. There are issues relating to curriculum delivery and training which have arisen from the decision to make citizenship a mandatory subject in maintained secondary schools. Citizenship presents a challenge because it is not a ‘conventional’ subject and teachers have to construct meaningful assessments which relate to discussions of beliefs and values. Philosophical and sociological literatures inform the conceptual analysis of definitions of citizenship. Insights into more recent policy and provision are provided through a discussion of curriculum development and interrogation of assessment documentation from awarding bodies and policy-making organisations. An empirical study aimed to construct a picture of delivery in schools. It employed a multiple-method approach: a questionnaire was used to survey 400 secondary schools across England; and interviews were conducted with pupils (in years 9-11) and teachers in 18 schools. The data were analysed using both quantitative (descriptive and univariate statistics) and qualitative (Successive Approximation and Ideal Type) methodologies.

The findings suggest that the way in which citizenship is delivered has an effect upon the means by which it is assessed and has some impact upon the way that the subject is valued. Some teachers were reluctant to use unfamiliar modes of assessment, particularly formative methods which did not result in a grade, because pupils were sceptical of the value of any subject which does not provide a ‘final’ mark. This underlines the fact that assessment is the dominant force in contemporary education. The creation of Ideal Type teachers facilitated further investigation of relationships that teachers had with citizenship, its delivery and how they perceive pupil responses to the subject. Teachers require more resources (financial and time) to increase their assessment skills. The conclusion can be drawn that there is a significant need for more training and support for teachers in the assessment of citizenship. If citizenship is to succeed in its mission to effect a change in society, it needs to be taken seriously and a factor which militates against this aim is the lack of coherent framework of assessment.
Date of Award2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLiam Gearson (Supervisor)

Cite this