Source: Action in Teacher Education, 33(1):94-107, (Spring, 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article presents a theoretical framework for citizenship education grounded in historical, philosophical, theoretical, and practical experience foundations.
This "4E framework" for citizenship education provides a way for educators to actualize goals for civic empowerment with their students—whether K-12 students or preservice teacher candidates.
The 4E model proposes a four-part process for student learning: educate, equip, engage, and empower. These steps involve the following elements:
• Educate students with the necessary background content information to provide
foundational knowledge of the issue or topic being discussed in an authentic, meaningful
way that yields opportunities for later application and understanding.
By learning within the context of the big picture, students are able to apply their democratic
understandings in a variety of contexts.
• Equip students with the necessary practical application tools and thinking skills to facilitate
their own learning, identify and accomplish personal goals, and contribute to society.
• Engage students by allowing them to participate in shaping their own education, provide
authentic experiences from which they can learn, and facilitate a relevant, motivating
dialogue for students to carry on in and out of the classroom.
Within the 4E model, goals for engagement are twofold: students should have the
opportunity to engage in academic discourse, and the education they receive should prepare
them to be engaged citizens in a democracy.
• Empower students to apply their knowledge, interests, and understandings and become
lifelong, active, engaged, effective citizens, capable of self-motivating and innovative
The 4E model creates a comprehensive approach to active learning in the social studies that invites students to practice citizenship just as they would rehearse a ballet. All the components are necessary to build an authentic civic identity.
Using these stages as a framework, the educator can allow the students to explore values, morals, and political issues in their own way while providing them with the tools they need to move forward.
An active, authentic approach must be taken if students are to internalize and master the skills they need to become knowledgeable, self-aware, effective citizens.
The ultimate empowerment of young citizens lies in the ability of students to understand structural issues and build solutions.
Students learn to become active citizens through participatory experiences and opportunities to apply their knowledge in authentic contexts and form a commitment beyond the school classroom to include community activities.
By extending this framework into preservice teacher education, we can provide exposure to the framework for teacher candidates and emphasize the importance of proper preparation in civic education strategies for preservice teachers.
Therefore, the authors recommend incorporating the theory and practice of the 4E framework into a preservice teacher program through the social studies methods course before student teaching.