Nishishiba, M., Nelson, H. T., & Shinn, C. (2005)
Journal of Public Affairs Education, 11 (4), pp. 269-285
This paper investigates many facets of civic engagement by disaggregating how undergraduates conceptualize civic engagement as well as defining variables predicting greater student involvement in political, social and community affairs. Survey responses were analyzed from Fall 2001, Winter 2002, and Spring 2002 pretests administered in the first two weeks of each quarter. Students’ conceptions of civic engagement were delineated from the closed ended survey responses using a hierarchical cluster analysis. Salient concepts revealed by cluster analysis included: expectations of governmental efficacy, citizen control of government, radical or direct action such as boycotts and protests, advocacy such as letter writing, and organizational participation. These concepts are all nuances of civic engagement important to students. A structural equation modeling technique was then used to examine how the expectations of governmental, importance of self efficacy and the attitudes regarding citizen control of government relate to the students’ monthly volunteer hours, organizational participation, advocacy, the importance of voting, and direct political action. This analysis was based on the data source described above though different survey components were used. The model 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 implication of these results are discussed in relation to curriculum designed to foster civic engagement.