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Judith Torney-Purta

Judith Torney-Purta holds a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University (with Great Distinction) and a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago. She is a developmental and educational psychologist. She has been a Professor of Human Development in the College of Education at the University of Maryland since 1981 and was previously Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She is the author or editor of six books reporting research on political knowledge and attitudes. The first was The Development of Political Attitudes in Children (reporting data from 12,000 U.S. 7 to 13 year olds, 1967), and one of the most recent was Citizenship and Education in Twenty-Eight Countries: Civic Knowledge and Engagement at Age Fourteen (reporting data from 90,000 students tested in 1999 in the IEA Civic Education Study in 29 countries). She served from 1994 to 2004 as Chair of the International Steering Committee for the IEA Civic Education Study and was responsible for the research consensus process as well as major parts of the survey design and analysis. See

She serves as Senior Advisor to the Education Commission of the States (National Center for Learning and Citizenship) in Denver, Colorado, where she has worked on presentations for state and district policy makers and on a collection of assessment instruments to promote enhanced civic instruction from kindergarten through grade 12 ( She is a member of the Board of CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), and has prepared "fact sheets" on results from the IEA Civic Education Study for the CIRCLE series. Topics include the impact of in-service teacher education in increasing students' civic knowledge and the role of trust in young people's civic engagement ( She is a member of a committee designing the National Assessment of Education Progress in Civics (NAEP). She has assisted with the survey to evaluate a major intervention effort in higher education, the Political Engagement Project, at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

She reanalyzed IEA data from Chile, Colombia and the United States to prepare a book-length report for the Organization of American States, Strengthening Democracy in the Americas through Civic Education (2004). This work was presented to the National Commission on Citizenship in Chile. In 2004 she was a member of the policy group advising the Council of Europe on its initiative on Education for Democratic Citizenship. She prepared a report on experiences of democracy at school in Europe.

She has been on a number of editorial boards, including the founding board of the International Journal of Political Socialization, which was published by Elsevier from 1977 until the early 1980's. This might be thought of as a precursor to the International Journal of Citizenship and Teacher Education.

Professor Torney-Purta received the Decade of Behavior Research Award in 2005, recognizing her forty years of research impacting policy designed to strengthen democracy. In 2003 she received an International Mentor Award from the American Psychological Association. In 2001 she was appointed Honorary Individual Member of the IEA General Assembly, the first woman to be so honored. She received the Nevitt Sanford Award from the International Society for Political Psychology in 2001 recognizing the IEA Civic Education data as a resource for the next generation of researchers and policy-analysts.

Talking with children about politics and civic topic remains her favorite way to keep in touch with what is important in political socialization. On the personal level, she takes pride in the fact that her grand daughter, aged 9, is a member of her school council. Education policy would be more sensible if every policy maker were required to talk to some first graders or spend a morning watching their class before making pronouncements.

Selected Recent Publications

Torney-Purta, J., Barber, C., & Richardson, W. K. (2004). Trust in government related institutions and political engagement among adolescents in six countries. Acta Politica: International Journal of Political Science, 39, 380-406.

Torney-Purta, J. & Richardson, W. K. (2004). Anticipated political engagement among adolescents in Australia, England, Norway, and the United States. In J. Demaine (Ed.), Citizenship and political education today. London: Palgrave/Macmillan (pp. 41-58).

Torney-Purta, J. (2002). The school's role in developing civic engagement: A study of adolescents in twenty-eight countries. Applied Developmental Science, 6, 202-211.

Torney-Purta, J.; Lehmann, R.; Oswald, H.; & Schulz, W. (2001). Citizenship and education in twenty-eight countries: Civic knowledge and engagement at age 14. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 237 pages.

Torney-Purta, J; Schwille, J; & Amadeo, J. (Eds.). (1999). Civic education across countries: Twenty-four case studies from the IEA Civic Education Project. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 622 page (Choice Award Winner)