Exploring students’ effort in social studies


  • Nora E Hesby Mathé University of Oslo
  • Eyvind Elstad University of Oslo


social studies, students' efforts, citizenship preparation, self-efficacy


Preparing young people for becoming responsible citizens is an important educational aim. The school subject of social studies contributes to this wider educational aim by focusing on knowledge, skills and values to support young people in developing their knowledgeable participation in democratic processes. As social studies combines a focus on knowledge and participation, students’ own effort is of vital importance. The purpose of this study was to explore the factors associated with students’ effort in upper-secondary social studies. The survey sample comprised 264 upper-secondary students (16 to 17 years old) from schools located in urban and rural areas in three Norwegian counties. Regression analysis was used to assess the strength of statistical associations between the dependent variable—students’ effort—and the hypothesised antecedents: students’ perceptions of citizenship preparation in social studies, students’ self-efficacy in social studies, students’ perceptions of the teacher’s expectations in social studies, students’ relational trust toward the teacher, gender and books in the home. Our findings show that all of these factors, except for teacher expectations and relational trust, were significantly related to students’ effort. The results are discussed, and implications for social studies and further research are outlined.