In political didactics, political judgement is generally seen as the goal or content of classroom teaching. There are, however, differing views as to what actually constitutes ‘good’ (i.e. sophisticated) political judgement.
A number of political didactics specialists associate ‘good’ judgement with a political attitude that is relevant to the topic and has been independently formulated by learners. They understand political judgement as ‘attitude formation’ linked with a call to political action (e.g. Waghid 2005; Brunold 2017). Others associate ‘good’ judgement with the selection of facts from lessons or from political reality, a selection justified both normatively and by intrinsic logic, in line with the philosophical concept of rationality (e.g. Juchler 2005; Kolstø 2008).
Still others see the need for operationalizable and non-normative criteria for ‘good’ judgement, in order to make it empirically measurable and transparently assessable at school (e.g. Weißeno 2020). In accordance with this, political judgement is regarded as a competency. Judgement competency is decision-making about specific political situations or issues, after deliberation and justification based on conceptual political knowledge (Manzel and Weisseno 2017). According to this view, judgements involve situational deliberation and decision-making, but must take into account political values. The emphasis is on criteria for judgement which relate to defined school-based domain-specific knowledge. The empirical value of this definition of judgement competency is still largely unproven.
This paper focuses on the psychometric quality of a test designed to measure judgement competency at upper secondary level. The paper investigates whether the measuring instrument used allows stable and valid measurements of knowledge. The first step will be to introduce concepts of judgement from political didactics, other domain-specific didactics, and psychology. The next step will be to explain the understanding on which this study is based, using the model of political judgement competency and the measurements of judgement competency. The research questions, measuring instruments, sample and methods of analysis will then be presented. The subsequent sections will report and discuss the quality of the test and the results.
The results of the tests of model validity and measurement invariance indicate that the testlet model can be assumed to have an adequate fit. The low correlations with fluid intelligence (BEFKI) suggest that political knowledge and the capacity for political judgement – in conformity with expectations – can be distinguished from fluid intelligence (capacity for deductive inference). Political judgement cannot therefore be explained by drawing logical consequences. Political judgement is not based on logical conclusions, as is assumed in normative political didactics. As the testlet model shows, political judgement includes processing facts that have been sorted according to content criteria and not logical criteria. The test analysed with the testlet model shows that the available results tend to confirm the hypothesis of a multilevel process. Furthermore, a look at the completion rates shows that a lot of pupils do not even achieve the judgement on the first level. The test provides clues to this, as it is very simple in conception. However, many pupils had difficulties producing subject-appropriate arguments. The study provides indications that the pupils are able to incorporate fact-based valuations in their political judgements.
Weisseno, S. & Weisseno, G. (2020). Political judgement competency among upper secondary-school pupils, Citizenship Teaching and Learning, 15 (accepted)