Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Major

Secondary Education

Advisor(s)

Rebecca Buchanan

Committee Members

Susan Bennett-Armistead, Mark Brewer, Evan Mooney, Bryan Silverman

Graduation Year

December 2021

Publication Date

Summer 8-2021

Abstract

An essential responsibility of public schooling is to cultivate civic awareness in students and prepare them to participate in a democratic society. Schools have, however, broadly failed this task, a trend the Maine Department of Education has attempted to reverse through policy. The 2019 edition of the MDoE’s Maine Learning Results (“MLR”) standards mandates that middle school social studies teachers implement civic action and service-learning projects (a.k.a. “citizenship education”) to address community needs and foster students’ civic identity. Existing literature suggests that citizenship education improves students’ civic awareness, community engagement, and future voting behavior, but the effectiveness of this new policy—particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic—is unmeasured. More broadly, the diversity of citizenship education efforts present among the population is unmeasured. This mixed-methods exploratory study analyzed the approaches toward citizenship education undertaken by Maine middle school social studies teachers and the factors affecting those approaches, as well as the effect of the MLR on those efforts. Data collection occurred over three phases: a survey sent to the population that collected information about teachers' citizenship education efforts, an interview phase that expanded on that data with in-depth information about teachers and their efforts, and a revised survey sent again to the population that addressed the shortcomings of the initial survey protocol. Findings revealed infrequent engagement with citizenship education across the population and minimal influence of the MLR. However, these findings also highlighted instances of exemplary citizenship education happening independent of the MLR. Potential supports to encourage and spread such efforts are discussed.

Share