Youth as Citizens: Civic engagement, education and democracy

By Lorna McLean, Hoa Truong and Katrina Isacsson

McLean, L., Truong, H., Isacsson, K. (2014). Youth as Citizens: Civic engagement, education and democracy. CRECS Ten Minute Window, 2(6).

Professor Lorna McLean and graduate students, Hoa Truong-White and Katrina Isacsson, of the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa and several colleagues were involved in a research project with Elections Canada and Encounters With Canada to promote civic engagement among Canada's youth. For the study, twenty-five teacher candidates prepared and delivered three civic education modules to over 1,000 teenagers to increase their awareness and understanding of civic engagement through active citizenship. Our findings confirm that the presentations prepared the participants to think about new ways to discuss local, national and international issues in their school, community and at home. The experiential component of the project indicated that a majority of the teacher candidates had gained practical experience in planning and implementing civics lesson plans, increased their awareness, understanding and interest in Canada’s democracy and civic engagement, and enhanced their understanding of and confidence in teaching civics.

See the video on CRECS Youtube Channel.

Keywords: Research, educational services, community services, programs for citizens

About the Authors:

Professor Lorna McLean teaches in the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa. Her research interests include citizenship and global citizenship education, history of education, gender, pedagogy and curriculum.

Hoa Truong-White is a PhD candidate researching digital technologies and citizenship education at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa.

Katrina Isacsson is a PhD candidate researching civic engagement and educational policy in the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa.


Elections Canada

Encounters With Canada

Further Reading

Blais, A. & Loewen, P. (2011) Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada. Elections Canada Working Paper Series, 2011. Retrieved on July 20, 2013 from

Evans, M. (2006). Characterizations of citizenship education pedagogy in Canada and England: Implications for teacher education. Citizenship and Teacher Education, 2 (1), 40-54.

Kahne, J. E., & Sporte, S. E. (2008). Developing citizens: The impact of civic learning opportunities on students’ commitment to civic participation. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 738-766.

Hughes, A., Print, M. & Sears, A. (2010). Curriculum capacity and citizenship education: a comparative analysis of four democracies. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40 (3), 293-309.

McLean, L. (2010). “There is no magic whereby such qualities will be acquired at the voting age”: Teachers, curriculum, pedagogy and citizenship. Historical Studies in Education 22, 2: 39-57. 

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