What Can Be Done to Encourage Civic Engagement in Youth?

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Discipline 1 Political science
Discipline 2
Publication Title What Can Be Done to Encourage Civic Engagement in Youth?
Description What can be done to encourage civic engagement in youth? The observations here draw on a ten-year study of citizenship education that I conducted in five countries: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.Each country has had universal suffrage and public education since at least early in the 20th century. Their populations, while unique, share many civic beliefs and values, including the importance of citizen participation and respect for individual rights. Beginning in 1985, I sampled secondary schools from among the different types of schools prevalent in each country and within its different regions. I collected data in approximately 50 schools across the five nations, administering questionnaires to almost 4000 adolescents ages 14-19. The questionnaires contained scales to measure student political attitudes concerning interest, trust, and efficacy (the belief that citizens can influence decisions); student political behaviors, such as following the news and discussing politics; and student perceptions as to whether the classroom climate encouraged them to express their beliefs about controversial issues. What can be done to encourage civic engagement in youth? The observations here draw on a ten-year study of citizenship education that I conducted in five countries: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.1 Each country has had universal suffrage and public education since at least early in the 20th century. Their populations, while unique, share many civic beliefs and values, including the importance of citizen participation and respect for individual rights. Beginning in 1985, I sampled secondary schools from among the different types of schools prevalent in each country and within its different regions. I collected data in approximately 50 schools across the five nations, administering questionnaires to almost 4000 adolescents ages 14-19. The questionnaires contained scales to measure student political attitudes concerning interest, trust, and efficacy (the belief that citizens can influence decisions); student political behaviors, such as following the news and discussing politics; and student perceptions as to whether the classroom climate encouraged them to express their beliefs about controversial issues. This study of citizenship education across five democracies indicates that when students frequently discuss controversial issues in their classes, when they perceive that several sides of issues are presented and discussed, and when they feel comfortable expressing their views, they are more likely to develop attitudes that foster later civic participation than do students without such experiences. Here are glimpses into the ways teachers in each nation used elements of issues-centered content and pedagogy and took steps to promote an open classroom climate.
Publication Year 2003
Publication Author Carole Hahn
Publication Type Study
Publisher Journal of Political Science Education
Major Funders
Publication Link