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Journal of Public Affairs Education

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Higher education -- Political aspects -- United States, Civics -- Study and teaching (Higher), Political participation, Civil society, Social participation


This paper investigates many facets of civic engagement by analyzing how college undergraduate students conceptualize civic engagement and by examining factors that predict greater student involvement in political, social, and community affairs.We administered a survey to college students at the beginning of fall, winter, and spring terms, 2001-02.We analyzed survey responses using a structural equation modeling (SEM) technique. The analysis examines how expectations of community and political efficacy, attitudes regarding citizen control of government, and attitudes toward diversity relate to the students’ civic engagement behaviors such as monthly volunteer hours, organizational participation, advocacy, voting, direct political action, and action to promote diversity and social justice in the community. The result of the SEM analysis indicates that expectations of efficacy significantly predict students’ direct political action, monthly volunteer hours, organizational participation, advocacy, and voting attitude. Students’ sense of control over public affairs significantly predicts organizational participation, advocacy, and voting attitude. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to curriculum design to foster civic engagement.


Originally appeared in Journal of Public Affairs Education, 11 (4), pages 269-285. Published by National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

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