Elementary education students’ perceptions of “good” citizenship

Jason L. O'Brien, Jason M. Smith


The purpose of this study was to investigate how elementary pre-service teachers perceive of ‘good’ citizenship. Prior to any instruction in their methods courses, 309 pre-service elementary teachers from nine different states were asked to respond to the prompt “What is a good citizen?” The two most common responses were “helping others/community involvement” (n=180) and “following laws” (n=163). Using the framework created by Westheimer and Kahne (2004), the authors make the conclusion that a majority of undergraduates have adopted a “Personally Responsible” model of citizenship. The authors argue that social studies methods instructors should attempt to move students in the direction of adopting a more “justice-oriented” model of citizenship when teaching elementary students in their future classrooms.


good citizenship, preservice elementary teachers

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