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Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1751-1917
  • E-ISSN: 1751-1925



The background for this study is a model for civics knowledge and teaching that distinguishes conceptual knowledge, ability to identify social and political issues, and civic literacy. The study itself investigates challenges in civics teaching by focusing on students’ difficulties understanding the subject matter. In a think aloud interview, some of the most difficult questions from the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study were presented to 29 eighth-grade students in a municipality fairly representative of average Swedish conditions. There were shortcomings in their conceptual knowledge and also in their understanding of social and democratic principles, highlighting the importance of reading skills for civic ability. The article suggests strategic work with conceptual learning and for civic teaching to include an explicit focus on reading comprehension. It suggests that the ability to reflect on complex civic issues is benefited by asking questions and discussing social and political principles from different perspectives.


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