Towards Engaged Citizens: Singapore Students' Civic Knowledge, Participation, Attitudes and Perceptions

Project Number
OER 35/08 JS

Project Duration
April 2009 - February 2012


Rationale: Civic engagement is a growing priority of governments everywhere, Singapore notwithstanding. Consistent across the literature, civic engagement is understood to mean actions and efforts, either individual or collective, designed to identify or address issues of public concern. The interest in civic engagement has been stimulated by a concern with a lack of civic knowledge (Torney-Purta et al., 1999, 2001), decreasing confidence in political institutions (Norris, 1999), decline in civic participation (Putnam, 2001), and growing youth disengagement from their societies (Saha et al., 2005; Hahn & Alviar-Martin, 2008). In Singapore, this concern has led the government to initiate an urgent nation-building programme - National Education. More precisely, the government under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been encouraging a more involved citizenship, particularly in engaging youth to play an active role in building Singapore (Lee, 2004). Aims of the Study: Against this background, the proposed study aims to examine Singaporean students' citizenship-related qualities and their performance on the survey utilized in the Civic Education Study of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA CivEd). Specifically, the study was set with three objectives. First, we aim to provide baseline data to describe Singaporean students' civic knowledge, their conceptions of democracy and good citizens, attitudes toward our country, perception of governments' responsibilities, perceptions of school and classroom climate, as well as their present and future civic participation. Baseline data will enable comparison between Singaporean students and their counterparts from 28 nations that completed the IEA survey. Further, the effects of students' differences in terms of demographic background (i.e. gender, socioeconomic status, academic streams, and types of school) on each of the aforementioned measures will be explored. Second, we aim to build a model depicting how students' conceptions of democracy and citizenship, perceptions of government's responsibilities and of school, school curriculum, and classroom climate, singly or interactively, predict students' present and future civic participation. Third, using individual and focus group interviews, we intend to obtain culture-specific information on sociocultural factors embedded in the Singapore context that facilitate or impede students' present and future civic participation. Instruments: Selected measures developed and used in the 28-Nation IEA CivEd Study (Torney-Purta et al., 1999, 2001) will be adopted, and adapted when necessary. They include measures of conceptions of democracy and good citizenship, perceptions of government's responsibilities, attitude toward one's country, perceptions of school, school curriculum, and classroom climate, and present and future civic participation. Participants: Approximately 1,500 broadly representative Secondary 2 students (age approximately 14 years) are anticipated to participate in the study. These students will be drawn from 10 secondary schools across Singapore, and different types of schools (i.e., independent vs. government, co-educational vs. single-sex, religion-affiliated vs. secular) will be represented Analysis: The study will follow a sequential explanatory mixed-method approach (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). In this model, qualitative data will be used to corroborate quantitative findings. First, descriptive statistics (i.e. mean, standard deviation, percentage) and inferential statistics (e.g., multiple regression, structural equation modelling, t-test, analysis of covariance) will be performed to analyse the data. Second, interviews with students will be transcribed and content-analysed to explicate results from the quantitative analyses.

Research Themes
Character & Citizenship/Values Education

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 1: Grooming Concerned Citizens

Related Projects