Citizenship education, post-16 students and pedagogy : a case study

  • Kirk Simpson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This case study of citizenship education and pedagogy within the post-16 sector of a non- denominational voluntary grammar school in Northern Ireland used individual and group interviews to investigate the views of teachers and students in relation to the content, design and implementation of prospective programmes of citizenship education. These interviews were also used to evaluate the level of support (amongst both teachers and students) for the inclusion of citizenship education within the post-16 school curriculum. The students were asked to articulate their opinions on the most effective pedagogical strategies that teachers of citizenship education courses can use in order to attract and engage post-16 students. An eight-session pilot programme of citizenship education (PPCE), designed and delivered by the researcher, was employed to examine the opportunities that such programmes can offer post-16 students to become actively involved in critically informed debate and discussion. An in-depth evaluation is provided of the discussion-based methods of teaching and learning that were a central facet of this PPCE, both from the perspective of the researcher and from the large cohort (87) of post-16 students who participated in the programme. This evaluation is based on substantial empirical evidence, and is placed within a theoretical framework that includes the work of Jerome Bruner, Howard Gardner and Jurgen Habermas. This study showed that the majority of the teachers and students interviewed within the case study school expressed support for the introduction of a citizenship education course within the school curriculum. The overwhelming majority of students who volunteered for the PPCE offered emphatic backing for the introduction of a citizenship education course that employs student-centred, discussion-based teaching and learning methods. Indeed, the study demonstrated that the use of student-centred, discussion-based pedagogy provides an environment in which post-16 students can become enthusiastic and highly competent participants in a citizenship education course. This study makes clear that with the support of teaching staff, senior management, and in particular the students, a course of citizenship education can be made available within the post-16 curriculum that seeks to encourage students to foster deeper understanding of social, political and cultural issues. This type of course can help to create an ethos of schooling and education that is a strong basis for the promotion and development of reflective, critical and informed democratic citizens.
Date of AwardDec 2002
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPeter Daly (Supervisor)

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