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Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology
Project duration: since 01.07.2021

Study on the development of political and social competence in adolescence (EPKO)

The goal of EPKO is to conceptualize and empirically test a competence model for the assessment of civic literacy in adolescence. Civic literacy is defined as (1) the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions regarding politically and socially relevant issues, and (2) the dispositions for action (i.e., motivations, attitudes and volitions) that are necessary to implement the decisions made. The competence model is intended to contribute to the systematic assessment of young people's civic literacy, to the identification of possible predictors and to the further improvement of civic education in schools.


Own funds Professor McElvany

Project description

The study on the development of political and social competence in adolescence examines how the civic literacy of young people can be systematically assessed. Against this backdrop, a competence model based on subject-specific didactic considerations is being developed. The model is intended to help capture the civic literacy of young people and to make a long-term contribution to improving civic education in schools.

Schwarzer Schriftzug EPKO mit grünen Kreisen

The thriving and successful continuation of democracies cannot be taken for granted. Democratic institutions and laws alone are not enough to ensure the lasting and stable functioning of democracies. Rather, the functioning of democracies relies on the engagement of citizens and the civic literacy that is the basis of this engagement. Similar to other competences, civic literacy must be relearned by each generation. In view of this challenge, school education must be well positioned in the long term to prepare young people for their role as responsible citizens in a democratic society. Accordingly, civic education as well as the other subjects of the social science spectrum have a special role to play. Both the quality and quantity of political learning opportunities are important. In addition, cross-curricular characteristics, such as the democratic school climate, and individual attributes, including family background, are taken into account.

For the empirical testing of the model, 1,000 secondary school students will be surveyed on the various contents of the competence model, their experiences in civic education, and their political attitudes and opinions. In order to learn more about the developmental dynamics of civic education, the students will be surveyed again on the above-mentioned aspects at intervals of one year. In addition, the parents of the students are asked in short questionnaires to indicate how politically interested they are and how they assess democracy.

Lead researcher at IFS and project management

Project team