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Executive Summary

Towards a Research Agenda
for Citizenship Education in Canada.

A Joint Initiative of the
Canadian Society for the Study of Education,
Multiculturalism Directorate, Canadian Heritage,
Metropolis Project, Citizenship and Immigration Canada,
and the University of Calgary

Based on the Final Report of the
Citizenship Education Think Tank
held on March 27-30, 1998
at the Kananaskis Field Station of the University of Calgary

Prepared by
Yvonne M. Hébert (University of Calgary), coordinator,
with the assistance of
Anastasia (Stacey) Kaketsis (University of Calgary),
Michèle Normand (Université de Montréal),
Caroline Tessier (Université de Montréal), and
Lori Wilkinson (U of Alberta)

Revised, August 1998

For the full report, please click here


Citizenship education is of primary importance to the construction of the sense of belonging and to civic participation in Canadian society. Although much has been said and written about citizenship education, there is no body of systematic long-term research in this key area. Building upon previous established exchanges among some researchers and policy makers, the project was to develop an agenda for research on citizenship education in Canada, in an intensive three day think tank bringing together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and stakeholders interested in citizenship education. The resulting agenda is expected to provide direction and substance towards the development of a national capacity for research in citizenship education of interest to all concerned.

The Citizenship Education Think Tank, held on March 27-30, 1998, at the Kananaskis Field Station of the University of Calgary, was a historic event for not since 1919, has a group of concerned Canadians come together to discuss citizenship education. At that time, a conference was held, organized by business interests, in the wake of the Winnipeg Strike of 1915, to consider the development of a stable and productive citizenry.

Objectives of the Citizenship Education Think Tank

Almost eighty years later, the ThinkTank project had as its purpose to assure the development of a national capacity for citizenship education research (1) by developing an agenda for citizenship education research in Canada; (2) by continuing the exchange among interested researchers, partners and stakeholders, begun at the Second National Metropolis Conference in November 1997; and (3) by laying the groundwork for comparative national research as well as pan-Canadian common research projects.

This project is expected to assist in the development of strategies to facilitate full and active participation of diverse communities in Canadian society; in encouraging and assisting the development of inclusive policies, programs and practices of public institutions and federal departments/agencies; as well as increasing public awareness, understanding and informed public dialogue about multiculturalism, racism and cultural diversity in Canada.

The objectives of the Citizenship Education Think Tank may be viewed within the context of the federal Multiculturalism Policy, first established in 1971, which encourages participation by all citizens in building and shaping Canada through support of three fundamental goals - identity, civic participation and social justice.

The support of the department may also be considered in light of current policy research interests, shared among several federal departments, regarding social cohesion. Among identified research issues are civic education, changing values, national identity and community attachment.

Four Research Themes

As a result of discussions which focussed on documents exchanged, participants' interests and experiences, as well as what research is needed to guide action in this domain, four research themes emerged:

1. Citizenship Conceptions and Contexts;
2. Citizenship Practices;
3. Citizenship Values; and
4. Citizenship Skills, Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours.

For each theme, research programmes were elaborated, with each developed into a series of prioritized research projects, responsibilities assumed or assigned, research designs sketched out, budgets estimated and possible interested stakeholders identified.

Citizenship Conceptions and Contexts

The theme dealing with the Conceptions and Contexts of Citizenship Education was conceptualized as stemming from a tradition of inquiry and research and as consisting of four sets of research projects: one on historical, social and philosophical contexts, another on people's conceptions of citizenship, and the third one on educators' conceptions.

The first set on contexts consists of four studies dealing with a) the development of a conceptual framework; b) implications of this framework for Citizenship Education; c) the historical and philosophical background of Citizenship Education; and d) multiple citizenship.

The next set of projects dealing with people's conceptions of citizenship, would study a) 17 and 18 year olds' conception of citizenship, then b) extend this nationally and internationally; c) children and young people's conception of citizenship, then agan d) extend this nationally; e) adolescents' understanding of rights; f) identity and language; g) immigrant conceptions of citizenship as a pilot study; and finally h) a study of people's representation of rights.

The third set of projects, dealing with educators' conceptions of citizenship, includes five studies: a) educators' view of global citizenship; b) representation of citizenship conceptions of pre-service teachers, c) with national extension; then, d) with teachers; and e) teacher attitudes toward diversity.





Development of Conceptual framework

To be determined

Summer 98'

Implication of framework (possibility) of citizenship education

Alan Sears

Fall 98' - Spring 99'

Historical/ Philosophical paper; Anglo conformity and multinational citizenship emphasis on paradigm shifts

R. Bruno-Jofre
R. Magsino

Fall 98' - Spring 99'

Multiple citizenship - conceptual paper;
material development and testing;

G. Pike

Fall 98' - 2001

Conceptual paper by spring 1999






Montréal's study on the 17 &18 year olds conception of citizenship education

M. Pagé

1997 - 2000

Extend study nationally and internationally

M. Pagé

1998 - 2000

Children's and Young peoples conception of citizenship

Sears, Hughes
& Clarke

1997 - 2000

Extend Nationally

Sears, Hughes,
Clarke et al

1998 - 2001

Adolescents understanding of rights

C. Ungerleider

Fall 1998

Identity and Language

Y. Hébert

1998 - 2001

Immigrant conception of citizenship: A Pilot

M. Siemiatycki

1998 - 1999

Representation of rights

M. Lavallée

1998 - 1999






Educators views of global citizenship

G. Pike

F1998-Jan 1999

Representation of cit. conceptions of pre-service teachers at 4 Que. and 1 N.B. Universities

F. Desroches

F 1998-Jan 1999

Replication at Anglo University

Sears, Orr, Ungerleider, Krugly-Smolska, Cassidy, Hébert...


Replication of surveys with teachers

Hughes/Sears, Ungerleider, Pagé


Teacher attitudes toward diversity

Hohl & Pagé



Citizenship Practices

The theme dealing with Practices of Citizenship Education examines four research questions:

1) What is the state of knowledge on what citizenship education is actually being done (policies, programmes, material, practices)?

2) What is the impact of practices and norms of institutions other than school institutions on citizenship education, especially on the hidden curriculum? What implicit conceptions do these institutions convey regarding notions such as equality/equity, individual/group, minority/majority, etc?

3) What role do schools and other institutions play for groups such as students, parents, community groups, etc, if it is considered that these institutions are social spaces where different conceptions and practices of citizenship meet?

4) What does the notion of "best practices" of citizenship mean? How can these be identified? On the basis of what criteria? How can they be evaluated? And this, in different sectors.








Teacher Pre-Service Education
-at Queen's


April-May 1998


Citizenship Education of Adult Immigrants comparing Québec and the rest of Canada

Derwing & McAndrew

Sept 1998 -


Comparative Study on Children's Understanding of Curriculum Concepts of Citizenship, Pan-Canadian

Sears & Hughes et al



Teachers' Implementation of Citizenship Education Programs

Smits, Orr, Beardsley, Cassidy

Spring 1999


Practices of Citizenship in the Classroom and in the School

Orr, Smits, Toohey, Hohl



Schools as a Contested Sites for Citizenship

McAndrew - a reflection paper as first step

Fall 1998


Best Practices

Smits - reflection paper as first step

Summer 1998

The research programme for this theme includes four sets of research projects, one of which is extensive. A first sub-theme looks at teacher preparation and curriculum, with four research projects: a) teacher preparation; b) a comparison of adult immigrant citizenship curriculum, comparing Québec with the rest of Canada; c) the extension of the on-going research project on children's understanding of curriculum concepts of citizenship on a pan-Canadian basis; d) a study of contested sites; and d) a study of teachers' implementation of existing citizenship materials and programs. The next sub-theme would examine classroom and school practices of citizenship. A third one would then study schools as contested sites where different conceptions of citizenship meet. A final study would examine best practices of citizenship education.

Citizenship Values and Principles

Four priorities are central to the theme of Citizenship Values and Principles:

  • to determine the citizenship values and principles which Canadians share;
  • to determine Canadian's perceptions of the values held by particular groups within Canadian society;
  • to determine what Canadians do when confronted with situations to which their values apply and in which their values conflict; and
  • to determine whether available citizenship materials reflect the citizenship values to which Canadians subscribe.

The research programme for this theme, Citizenship Values and Principles, consists of five research phases. Phase One consists of a thorough review of the literature on citizenship and values Canadians share, looking at the academic literature, the policy context and polling studies. Phase Two intends to determine the citizenship values and principles which Canadians by surveying children, adolescents and adults, in three separate studies. Phase Three aims to determine Canadians' perceptions of the values held by particular groups where as Phase Four will determine what Canadians do when confronted with situations in which their values apply and in which their values conflict. Phase Five will then determine whether available citizenship materials reflect the values to which Canadians subscribe.

Canadian Citizenship Values and Principles Project


Person Responsible for Directing Phase

Proposed Timeline

Phase One

Review of Literature on Citizenship and Values Canadians Share

-policy context
-polling studies

Ungerleider, Hébert, Wilkinson

Jeff Bullard, John Biles



Phase Two

To determine the citizenship values and principles which Canadians share

a) survey children

b) survey adolescents

c) survey adults

A. Sears & A. Hughes

Charles Ungerleider



Phase Three

To determine Canadians' perceptions of the values held by particular groups

Charles Ungerleider



Phase Four

To determine what Canadians do when confronted with situations:

a) to which their values apply;

b) to which their values conflict;

Lori Wilkinson

Lori Wilkinson



Phase Five

To determine whether available citizenship materials reflect the values to which Canadians subscribe

Yvonne Hébert

John Kabano


Citizenship Behaviours, Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge

Looking at citizen efficacy, the fourth theme on the behaviours, attitudes, skills and knowledge (BASK) particular to citizenship will examine four questions:

1) What are the behaviours, attitudes, skills and knowledge not only among students, but also among citizens in general, in the domain of citizenship?

2) Although it is very difficult to define these, how can such research guide the implementation of "good citizen practices"?

3) How do skills, attitudes and knowledge of citizenship guide behaviour?

4) What influence do pedagogical approaches have in the transmission and acquisition of citizenship concepts? In other words, how can a sense of efficacy be developed so that students are confident that they can as citizens contribute to the evolution of society?

A first priority is the development of a data bank pertaining to the behaviours, attitudes, skills, and knowledge of students and of the public. A first research project would define indicators of the behaviours, attitudes, skills, and knowledge of citizenship in terms of citizen efficacy. Next is the establishment of links between skills, attitudes, knowledge, and civic participation, as these flow from the definition of citizen efficacy. Here, a second research project would study 13-16 year olds in schools as well as young adults and newcomers, with a questionnaire, linking it to an international study (IEA). An examination of situational and contextual factors that influence the development of individuals notable for their considerable civic participation are a third priority. This part of the overall research agenda would occur in two phases, a first one that operationalizes valid indicators of citizenship, based upon a literature review, then move to collect data on a national level in both school and non-school instances, looking particularly at nurturing citizenship, its influences in community, media and family; and replication of nuturing talents. Following the preliminary analysis of this data, a second phase would consist of an examination of existing links between attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviours in terms of citizen efficacy; here a study would be undertaken on students' perceptions of the "good citizen".

Action Plan for Research Projects and Dissemination of Results

Following upon the definition of the objectives, priorities and strategies for a research agenda on citizenship education in Canada, accomplished at the Think Tank, the remainder of the issues to consider deal with its implementation, communication and evaluation of the agenda. An implementation plan would seek to build momentum and credibility with the endorsement of major stakeholders and funders whereas a communication strategy or set of strategies would assist in maintaing the cohesion of the research network or community in terms of data sharing, groups discussions, link with stakeholders, and dissemination of information. Finally, an evaluation plan is necessary to find out if the national research agenda is a success, what measures can be put in place to review the accomplishments and make adjustments as necessary. The implemention, communication and evaluation plans would require financial support, in addition to the programme of research identified presented earlier in this report.

These parts of the research agenda for citizenship education in Canada are carried over to the next meeting of the network set for June 1, 1998 in Ottawa, the day after the annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. Elisabeth Barot, Canadian Commission of UNESCO, offers to host the meeting while Jeff Bullard offers to take responsibility for inviting additional stakeholders in the afternoon for discussion of further collaboration.


Elisabeth Barot
Canadian Commission for UNESCO
Andy Hughes,
U New Brunswick
Rick Beardsley,
British Columbia Teachers Federation
John Kabano,
Université du Québec à Rimouski
John Biles,
Multiculturalism Directorate, Canadian Heritage; and Metropolis Project
Stacey Kaketsis,
U Calgary
Jim Brackenbury,
Alberta Education; Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
Eva Krugly-Smolska,
Queen's University
Rosa Bruno-Jofre,
U Manitoba
Marie McAndrew,
U Montréal
Jeff Bullard,
Multiculturalism Directorate, Canadian Heritage
Michèle Normand,
U Montréal
Roger Butt,
International Comparative Research, Canadian Heritage
Jeff Orr,
St. Francis Xavier U
Wanda Cassidy,
Simon Fraser University
Michel Pagé,
U Montréal
Renée Delorme,
Canadian Identity and Cultural Development, Canadian Heritage
Graham Pike,
OISE/U Toronto
Tracey Derwing,
U Alberta
Doug Ramsay,
Celebration Canada
Fabienne Desroches,
U Montréal
Alan Sears,
U New Brunswick
Jim Frideres,
U Calgary
Myer Siemiatycki,
Ryerson Polytechnic University
Rudyard Griffith,
Dominion Institute
Hans Smits,
U Regina
Ingrid Hauck,
Policy, Education and Promotion, Citizenship and Immigration, Canada
Caroline Tessier,
U Montréal
Yvonne Hébert,
U Calgary
Charles Ungerleider,
Lori Wilkinson,
U Alberta

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To view the full report, please click here  

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