The Relation between Civic Education and Political Attitudes and Behavior

It is generally assumed that civic education efforts will have a positive effect on the political attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and young adults. In the present study, we distinguish among formal civic education, an open classroom climate, and active learning strategies, and we explore their relation with political interest, efficacy, trust, and participation. To analyze these relations, we rely on the results of a two-year panel study among late adolescents in Belgium. The results indicate that formal civic education (classroom instruction) and active learning strategies (school council membership and, to a lesser extent, group projects) are positively related to political attitudes and behavior. An open classroom climate, on the other hand, is significantly related to political trust. We conclude that there is no reason to privilege specific forms of civic education, as each form relates to different relevant political attitudes and behaviors.

This content has been updated on 2 October 2016 at 9 h 38 min.