Study of Young Teens Finds Civics Ranks Low

By Warner, Bethany | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 16, 2001 | Go to article overview

Study of Young Teens Finds Civics Ranks Low


Warner, Bethany, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A new survey says four out of five 14-year-old students in 28 democratic countries do not plan on participating in a political party when they reach adulthood, though they agree that voting and obeying the law are key parts of citizenship.

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) released a study yesterday focusing on the knowledge of 14-year-olds about the democratic process, as well as their attitudes toward government and citizenship.

"You can't just look at knowledge in these areas," said Judith Torney-Purta, the study's lead author and a professor of human development at the University of Maryland and the chairman of the international steering committee for the study.

"Knowledge turns into willingness to vote," she said. "The more knowledgeable students are about the fundamentals of the democratic process, they were the ones who said they were more likely to vote when they are adults."

The study was conducted as part of an international collaboration with Humboldt University of Berlin, which served as the International Coordinating Center for the study. Substantial funding was received from the German Science Association.

The IEA conducted the third international mathematics and science study, and according to Mrs. Torney-Purta, used this study as a way to show that civic education is important. In addition, the study is a follow-up to a similar one done in 1971.

"A similar study was done about 30 years ago and a lot has changed. The [Berlin] Wall has fallen, education has changed, and there are many democracies around the world," said Mrs. Torney-Purta.

The 14-year-olds surveyed are more willing to participate in social causes and charities and are more supportive of political and economic rights of women than their counterparts from the 1971 survey. …

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