Group Problem Solving as a Different Participatory Approach to Citizenship Education


  • Laurence Guérin Saxion University of Applied Sciences



Purpose: The main goal of this article is to define and justify group problem solving as an approach to citizenship education. It is demonstrated that the choice of theoretical framework of democracy has consequences for the chosen learning goals, educational approach and learning activities. The framework used here is an epistemic theory of deliberative democracy. It is argued that such an approach enhances teachers’ and pupils’ autonomy.

Design/methodology/approach: First, it was discussed what kind of theory of democracy lies behind the mainstream approach to citizenship education. Then, it was demonstrated how a chosen theory of democracy and citizenship leads to a specific translation into educational principles. In order to define and translate the chosen framework into educational principles and learning activities, different disciplines were drawn upon: political philosophy, cognitive and educational psychology.

Findings: Group problem solving was defined as an alternative participatory educational approach to citizenship education and four educational principles were defined: argumentation, connected learning, decision making and thinking together. 

Practical implications: Educationalists, policy makers and researchers working on citizenship education should discuss their ideals of democracy and citizenship in order for these to become an object of scrutiny in the curriculum.

Author Biography

Laurence Guérin, Saxion University of Applied Sciences

Laurence Guérin is lecturer and researcher at the Saxion Applied University of sciences. She is completing her PhD on Citizenship Education.