From rhetoric to reality : a critique of the effectiveness or shortcomings of the students' understanding of the concepts of 'democracy' and 'citizenship' in a college
This study is a critique of the students' understanding of the concepts of democracy and citizenship at the Junior College of the University of Malta. The research also investigates whether the students at the Junior College possess the skills to translate the content learned during lectures which focussed on the two concepts cited above, into their everyday life as democratic citizens. The researcher analysed the paradigmatic position of the study and justified the use of the three research instruments: that is a qualitative method, the content analysis of twenty examination scripts in Systems of Knowledge, the subject through which the concepts of democracy and citizenship, amongst other issues, are imparted. The categories that emerged from this study supported the development of a research hypothesis. The categories also served as guidelines for the drafting of the questionnaire schedule (administered to five hundred College students) and the semi-structured interview schedule (carried out with eight College students) undertaken for triangulation purposes, and to confirm the validity and reliability of the first two research instruments and their findings. The findings show that most students grasped the content taught during lectures, but they were unable to translate that content into everyday life. Also, the pedagogic implications that arise from the findings, when discussed with reference to the research questions, show the pressing need to amend the 1997 syllabus for Systems of Knowledge. There is the need to reduce and update the content, and to time table time for discussion and other activities that stimulate the acquisition of skills, and that help students make the leap to live as active democratic citizens. It is argued that if citizenship education is implemented in a strategic and holistic manner at post-secondary level and better still as part of the overall Maltese education system, it would prove to be one of the means to safeguard democracy.