Monday, 14 Oct 2002

Schools can make a difference in young people’s awareness of politics and participation in civic activities that benefit the community according to international expert in civic education and youth development, Professor Judith Torney-Purta of the University of Maryland who is in Sydney to address the ACER Research Conference 2002 - Providing World-Class School Education: What can Australia learn from international achievement studies?

“Civic education is very important and it has been neglected in international comparative studies. It has been 30 years since the last large-scale international study of civic education,” Professor Torney-Purta says. “But now in many countries, including Australia and the United States, new interest is being expressed.”

MEDIA RELEASE For release on 14 October 2002 Australian Students’ Civics Results Schools can make a difference in young people’s awareness of politics and participation in civic activities that benefit the community according to international expert in civic education and youth development, Professor Judith Torney-Purta of the University of Maryland who is in Sydney to address the ACER Research Conference 2002 - Providing World-Class School Education: What can Australia learn from international achievement studies? * “Civic education is very important and it has been neglected in international comparative studies. It has been 30 years since the last large-scale international study of civic education,” Professor Torney-Purta says. “But now in many countries, including Australia and the United States, new interest is being expressed.” In her paper to be delivered Tuesday, Professor Torney-Purta examines the Australian results in civic knowledge and engagement from the IEA International Civic Education Study focusing on a description of the Australian results in comparison with the other 27 countries that tested 14 year olds in 1999. She gives special attention to the two other English- speaking countries that participated – England and the United States. “Australian students’ performed very well, ranking fourth out of 28 countries, on the test items assessing skills in interpreting political information,” Professor Torney-Purta says. “However, they did not perform well, ranking only 15th, in their ability to understand principles and concepts underlying democracy.” Professor Torney-Purta’s address will also examine commonalities and differences in pedagogical practice and will draw some conclusions about the particular situation of students and of teachers in Australia. Judith Torney-Purta holds a BA from Stanford University (Psychology) and a PhD from the University of Chicago (Human Development). She has been professor of human development in the College of Education at the University of Maryland at College Park since 1981.