Norwegian version

Democracy, Equality, Learning and Mobilisation for Future Citizens (DEMOCIT)

How does Norwegian youths develop political efficacy and belief in their own participation in democratic society? The aim of DEMOCIT is to partake in reducing a growing civic empowerment gap within Norwegian democracy.

There is a need for more knowledge and new didactics in order to incorporate and improve democratic learning.

The ICCS 2016-survey (udir.no) revealed that young citizens’ belief in their future participation in democracy is influenced by gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic background.

Additionally, the Norwegian national curricular reform (udir.no), emphasizes civic and citizenship education as one of three cross-curricular themes in all school subjects. There is a need for more knowledge and new didactics in order to incorporate and improve democratic learning.

Objective

DEMOCIT will develop teacher education utilizing new research on how youths conceptualize democracy and political participation, to ensure that all pupils can believe that their opinions matter regardless of their gender, minority background or socioeconomic status.

The project is a collaboration between teacher education in Social science and NOVA research institute at Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway. DEMOCIT unites academia and teaching practice through research on didactics, teaching, youth and school.

Background

The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS 2016) revealed that although Norwegian pupils have high levels of democratic knowledge, systematic differences in results between pupils of different sociodemographic characteristics are maintained. The survey also shows that a sense of political efficacy is crucial for pupils who see themselves as future democratic citizens.

Research questions and methodology

DEMOCIT will study teaching practices in schools that have demonstrated to raise the level of democratic knowledge among pupils regardless of sociodemographic background between the ICCS surveys in 2009 and 2016.

Studies will combine classroom observation and interviews with teachers, school management and pupils. The study focuses pupils' everyday experiences of influence and co-determination. Data are supplemented by expert interviews with teacher educators in other Nordic countries, and by additional data from the project Youth in Change [lenke]), a qualitative study of youths’ life and transitions during adolescence.

Relevance

Social science in Norwegian schools place greatest emphasis on disseminating knowledge about political institutions and electoral schemes. DEMOCIT will make teacher education in social science reflect pupils' everyday conceptualizations of democracy and citizenship.

DEMOCIT is being carried out in parallel with the introduction of the curriculum reform Fagfornyelsen, making Democracy and citizenship one of three inter-subjective themes. DEMOCIT will provide valuable information on how this topic can be developed in teaching across different school subjects.

Implementation

Research findings will be implemented through teacher education at OsloMet, continued education for teachers, cooperation with OsloMet’s University Schools and practice schools and international NGOs as partners Save the Children (reddbarna.no) and European Wergeland Centre.

  • Members from OsloMet

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    • National stakeholder committee

      • Halla Bjørk Holmarsdottir, Oslo Metropolitan University
      • Hege Biseth, University of Southeastern-Norway
      • Tormod Tvare, teacher Nordberg secondary school, Oslo
      • David Moland-Wulff, teacher Bjølsen secondary school, Oslo
      • Anna-Karin Tobiassen, teacher Verket secondary school, Moss
      • Petter Kristian Bay, teacher Kongsberg Upper Secondary School
      • The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (Udir), v/ Tone Abrahamsen
      • The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), v/ Marianne Lindheim and Siri Hansen
      • Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, v/ Anne-Karin Ødegård 
    • International advisory board

      • Jens Bruun, Aarhus Universitet
      • Ellen Claes, KU Leuven
      • Jan Löfström, Turin Yliopisto (University of Turku)
      • Bryony Hoskins, University of Roehampton
      • Kenneth Nordgren, Karlstad Universitet
    • Partners

      The DEMOCIT-project’s two official partners are Save the Children Norway and the European Wergeland Centre (EWC).

      Save the Children

      Strengthening children’ right to participation and influence is an essential task for Save the Children (reddbarna.no), including increasing children’s knowledge of democracy, politics and citizenship. 

      As a partner of the DEMOCIT-project, Save the Children is developing its democracy project and mock election Barnas Valg (Children’s Election). Through this project, Norwegian school children are familiarized with the democratic institutions of Norway, the political parties and how children and youth may influence society.

      The European Wergeland Centre

      The European Wergeland Centre (EWC) (theewc.org) is a resource centre on education for intercultural understanding, human rights and democratic citizenship. Through its activities in all the member states of the Council of Europe, the EWC develops democratic values, attitudes and skills, both individually and institutionally.

      EWC’s partnership with DEMOCIT is implemented through Learning Democracy at Utøya (demokrativerksted.no), which since 2016 has used the site of the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway as a resource centre for democratic engagement among youths. 

    • Subprojects

      DEMOCIT is divided into closely integrated subprojects. In the project’s two first phases, from 2020 to 2022, we are collecting and analyzing data which in turn will provide the empirical basis for chances made to the Teacher Education at Oslo Metropolitan University, in the project’s third and final phase in 2022-2023. 

      Teacher Education in the Nordic Countries

      In the first project phase, from 2020 to 2021, we analyse how Nordic countries prepare pre-service teachers for their future role as teachers with responsibility for Civic and Citizenship Education. We examine policy documents and conduct expert interviews with several Teacher Educators from different universities in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

      This subproject is led by Idunn Seland.  

      Youths Understanding of Democratic Participation

      DEMOCIT is making use of existing survey data, such as the ICCS-studies of 2009 and 2016 and the 
      Inequality in Youth-survey. In this subproject, we analyse these existing data in accordance with DEMOCIT’s research questions, as well as collect additional data as part of the Inequality in Youth-survey.

      We are particularly interested in how youths’ political efficacy is affected by gender, immigrant background and socio-economic status.

      This subproject is led by Ida Tolgensbakk. 

      Civic and Citizenship Education in Norwegian Schools

      DEMOCIT’s second phase, from 2021 and 2022, is inaugurated by a subproject taking a closer look at Civic and Citizenship Education in Norwegian secondary schools. The schools taking part in the project have been carefully selected by criteria based on the ICCS-study of 2016.

      We are particularly interested in schools that have managed to make a difference, i.e. schools were boys, students with immigrant background and/or lower socio-economic status have higher political efficacy than expected. In this subproject we observe teaching in the classroom, and interview students, teachers and principals.

      This subproject is led by Anders G. Kjøstvedt.

      A Different Approach to Teacher Education

      The main output of the DEMOCIT project, which are adjustments to the Teacher Education at Oslo Metropolitan University, is implemented in the project’s third and final phase, in 2022-2023. These adjustments will be based on the insights and experiences of DEMOCIT’s prior subprojects and developed through a series of workshops.

      Significantly, in this subproject, we will be working closely with our National Stakeholder Committee, as well as experts from Karlstad University, providing an important connection to the practice field.

      This subproject is led by Anders G. Kjøstvedt.

    • PhD project: Lars Birger Davan

      Citizenship and belonging in a digital age

      In just a few decades the word "citizenship" has become one of the most frequently used in discussions of communal life in society. In the curriculum of Norwegian schools, it has become an over-arching theme meant to influence every other subject.

      Belonging, participation and subjectification are at the core of the concept of citizenship. What preconditions do these have in a time where digital technology create new frameworks for human interaction?

      Every-day life experiences

      A lot has been written about civic participation and -education in school, especially in the perspective of pedagogy. However, we know less about how adolescents develop citizenship through informal every-day life experiences. My project seeks to create more knowledge in this field by connecting the concept of citizenship in school, to adolescents every-day life experiences.

      The digital arena

      Specifically, I will study experiences of belonging, participation, and subjectification in the digital arena. The material and technological circumstances of democracy are changing rapidly. The digital arena is important because digital cultures affect social formations and offline agency.

      Through social media and ICT, citizens as users develop understandings of reality, the world, and how they find a place in this reality. Meanwhile, the influence of digital technology is connected to commercial interests. When digital and non-digital and private and public arenas are entangled, understanding the development of belonging and participation becomes of greater relevance and importance. 

      The project goal

      The goal of the project is to study the socialization and subjectification of adolescents, by following a group of adolescents through changing times of material and technological circumstances of subjectification and participation. 

      Data

      Data collected in this project is a part of and a contribution to the project Inequality in Youth. It is a qualitative, longitudinal research database on youths in Norway, intended to be a parallel to the quantitative Ungdata surveys.

      The database will consist of repeated interviews with 80 youths in four different communities in Norway, interviewed every other year from they are 13 to 19 (2018-2024). It also includes interviews with their parents.

      Longitudinal Qualitative Research (LQR) is a powerful method that investigates lives through time. Following youths as they move from early adolescence to young adulthood, the Inequality in Youth project intends to understand more about how adolescents experience central areas of their lives as they get older, as well as how biographical meaning reflects societal change.

    • PhD project: Tessa Eriksen Grevle

      About My Project

      My name is Tessa Eriksen Grevle and I am writing a public sector PhD in Educational Sciences of Teacher Education here at Oslo Metropolitan University. A public sector PhD entails in my case that I research at the school where I am also employed as a teacher, and I have been since 2015. This gives me an insider perspective of the school during my research.  

      The project is affiliated with DEMOCIT, yet it is a distinct project funded by Viken County and the Research Council of Norway. The project will expand/evolve over four years and started on September 1, 2020. If you search for the word "Glemmen" in the Research Council of Norway´s project bank, you will find additional information.

      Background of the Project

      In 2019, Glemmen Upper Secondary School in Fredrikstad started a major development project. Aiming to become more future-oriented, the school developed a plan in which they formulated the following goals: "To develop and implement a new pedagogical model for holistic, personalized, student-active, realistic and deep social learning" (Glemmen upper secondary school, n.d.).

      From August 2020, the Norwegian national curricular reform Subject Renewal (Fagfornyelsen) was incrementally implemented in Norway. Simultaneously, and in accordance with the implementation of the new curriculum, Glemmen Upper Secondary School started replacing traditional teaching methods with the new pedagogical model.

      The school has since worked to develop learning missions, which means the students are given quests that they must solve individually or in groups. The overall ambition for these learning missions is described as follows: "The learning assignments must promote curiosity, creativity, adaptability, the ability to solve problems, critical thinking and not least collaboration". (Glemmen videregående skole, n.d.)

      In addition, it is an objective for the learning missions that they should be interdisciplinary and related to the cross curricular themes in the national curriculum when relevant.

      What Do I Want to Find Out?

      The primary objective of my PhD project is to systematically research the implementation of this new educational model at Glemmen Upper Secondary School to analyze how the transition to a multidisciplinary and student-centred pedagogical model can increase the students´ experience with and competency in the cross-curricular theme Citizenship and Civic Education and hence improve the students´ sense of political efficacy.

      Through action research, I explore, in collaboration with my colleagues, whether the transition to a new pedagogical model contributes to the students feeling that they get increased co-determination in their own everyday life as a student.

      What challenges and opportunities do we encounter when we transition to a new pedagogical model? How can we develop the new pedagogical model in such a way that students participate more in the local community and get a realistic approach to democracy and citizenship.

      In short, will a shift to a pedagogical method that is designed to increase the students´ participation in society and the local community influence the students´ sense of co-determination and belief in democratic institutions and also their ability to participate in such institutions? 

      Methodology 

      To find answers to these questions, I use Insider Action Research, which is a methodology designed by David Coghlan for those who research within their own organization. The starting point for my research questions is we, for example "how can we do xxxx?"

      One of the goals is to focus the research on something that is appropriate in the school´s development project, so that the teachers gain ownership of the research through the design of the project.

      A positive and practical advantage of this approach is that the research becomes both close to practice and relevant to practice, and simultaneously requires minimal work from the teachers beyond all what they do in their daily work. 

      Ambitions of the project

      There are three ambitions that have been crucial in the design of my research design. The first was to create a democratic "space" at the school to think aloud together and come up with common solutions to problems.

      The second was to establish a bottom-up research project, where those who work to develop and realize the new pedagogical model should have a sense of ownership of the research-based approach to development work at the school. Through the PhD project, I will document and systematically analyze our experiences, so that others can learn from our process.

      The third ambition was to create a bridge between research, the school owner, and the field of practice. Through these ambitions, it is my hope that the project will have a relevant practice value as both an action and as a research project both in the process towards a PhD, as well as when the PhD is completed.

      References

      Glemmen Upper Secondary School Development plan 2019-2024

    • PhD project: Eva Kosberg

      About the project

      As of the autumn of 2020, democracy and citizenship were introduced as a cross curricular theme in the Norwegian schools. This emphasizes that all students should experience the opportunity to participate in the democratic society. But what makes young people participate?

      An important factor has proven to be their political efficacy, in other words, that they believe that they can master politics through having enough knowledge and the right competence to participate.

      In my doctoral project, I research how we in the social studies classroom might strengthen students' political efficacy. For a period of one year, I follow a social studies class at the lower secondary level. Together with the students and the teacher, I explore what obstacles to political efficacy that exist in the classroom, and what concrete solutions which can be beneficial to promote students' belief in themselves when it comes to mastering politics.

      Through an intervention in a teaching period when the students were working with the topic of politics, we also explore the use of the teaching method cooperative learning and whether this combination can increase students' political efficacy. In cooperative learning the students work in groups that are set up in such a way that the students are mutually dependent on each other, and along the way the students are to reflect both on their own role in the group and on the group's cooperation process.

      The aim of the doctoral project is to be able to give both teachers and teacher educators concrete knowledge about how they can work to enable political efficacy and hence promote political participation through the social studies classroom. 

      During the period, many different methods are used. I have observed the classroom for several periods and have done both formal interviews and had many informal conversations with the students.

      I also use audio recordings of group conversations as data material. In addition, there is a close collaboration with the teacher in the class, especially in the period where we have tried new ways of teaching.
       

    • Publications

      Jøsok, Evy; Tolgensbakk, Ida; Wold, Kaja (2022). Helt Ærlig! Demokrati- og medborgerskapsundervisningens muligheter og utfordringer. Bedre Skole (utdannningsnytt.no)

      Biseth, Heidi; Seland, Idunn; Huang, Lihong (2021). Strengthening Connections Between Research, Policy, and Practice in Norwegian Civic and Citizenship Education (usn.no). Malak-Minkiewicz, Barbara; Torney-Purta, Judith (red.). Influences of the IEA Civic and Citizenship Education Studies: Practice, Policy, and Research Across Countries and Regions. Chapter 13. s. 147-159. Springer.

      Seland, Idunn; Huang, Lihong; Arensmeier, Cecilia; Bruun, Jens; Löfström, Jan (2021). Aims of citizenship education across Nordic countries: Comparing school principals' priorities in citizenship education 2009-2016. Biseth, Heidi; Hoskins, Bryony; Huang, Lihong (red.). Northern Lights on Civic and Citizenship Education: A Cross-national Comparison of Nordic Data from ICCS (springer.com). 3. s. 43-63. Springer 

      Hoskins, Bryony; Huang, Lihong; Arensmeier, Cecilia (2021). Socioeconomic Inequalities in Civic Learning in Nordic Schools: Identifying the Potential of In-School Civic Participation for Disadvantaged Students. Biseth, Heidi; Hoskins, Bryony; Huang, Lihong (red.). Northern Lights on Civic and Citizenship Education: A Cross-national Comparison of Nordic Data from ICCS (springer.com). 5. s. 93- Springer

      Eriksen, Ingunn Marie; Davan, Lars Birger (2020). Tap og tillit: Ungdoms livstilfredshet og samfunnsdeltagelse under pandemien. NOVA Rapport 13/20 (oda.oslomet.no)

    • Other dissemination

      Huang, Lihong; Kosberg, Eva; Grevle, Tessa Eriksen; Davan, Lars Birger; Seland, Idunn; Kjøstvedt, Anders Granås; Vandvik, Grete; Heggelund, Amund Bøhr; Aspelund, Ingrid (2021). Panel Discussion: Developing and Nurturing Political Efficacy among Youth. EARLI 2021 Conference (earli.org)

      Kjøstvedt, Anders Granås (2021). Bridging the civic empowerment gap. Education in the Spotlight of NGOs. European Wergeland Centre Lithuania.

      Kjøstvedt, Anders Granås; Seland, Idunn (2021). How is political efficacy addressed in civic and citizenship education? The case of teacher education in the Nordic countries. ECPR Virtual General Conference 2021. European Consortium of Political Research

      Kjøstvedt, Anders Granås (2021). Demokrati, læring og mobilisering for unge medborgere (DEMOCIT). Faglig seminar. Demokratigruppa i Kunnskapsdepartementet

      Kjøstvedt, Anders Granås; Jøsok, Evy (2021). Researching Democracy and Youth: Preliminary results from the research project DEMOCIT. Education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding. European Wergeland Centre Norway

      Seland, Idunn; Huang, Lihong (2021). The relationship between civic literacy and basic literacy: Reflections on ICCS 2016 results from Norway. IFS Virtual Keynote Series. TU Dortmund University, The Center for Research on Education.