We present findings from the first wave of a longitudinal study of civic and political engagement among undergraduate students at a mid-sized university in the Midwestern United States. We find that high school experiences of civic learning are a significant predictor of three of our four measures of civic and political engagement, namely, the likelihood of contacting a public official, participating in a protest, and engaging in collective problem-solving. Online political engagement appears to partially mediate the relationship between high school civic learning and offline political engagement. In terms of the specific aspects of high school civic learning that may be most salient to adolescents, the classroom experience of ‘meeting people who make society better’ emerges as the strongest predictor of students’ civic engagement. These findings suggest that citizenship norms among young adults may be shifting to new forums of engagement rather than simply eroding, as some current literature suggests.
Molly W. Metzger, S. Erete, D. Barton
Education, Citizenship and Social Justice