Generation Citizen believes strongly in the importance of evaluation and a data-driven approach, and we are constantly seeking to improve our practice and demonstrate the efficacy of action civics.
Recently, an internally conducted innovative study revealed that participation in Generation Citizen is associated with an increase in students’ intended civic engagement. This summary measure includes indicators such as likelihood of voting, volunteering, and participating in a political campaign, while controlling for a number of student and school-level demographic and academic factors, including race/ethnicity, intention to attend college, percentage of students at the school on free or reduced price lunch, and the school meeting adequate yearly progress. The study utilized data from over 150 student surveys from the winter of 2010-2011 to design a quasi-experimental, multi-level analysis.
Additionally, through observing, surveying, and interviewing the mentors who volunteer for Generation Citizen, a recent study identified three common characteristics possessed by the strongest Democracy Coaches. They are: person-oriented, emphasizing the mentor-student person connection; aligned with the organization’s mission; and constantly honing their craft of mentorship.
With support from the Spencer Foundation, the GC evaluation team has begun to lay the groundwork for a longitudinal study this year to track GC’s longer term impact as students graduate high school and reach voting age. Over the coming months, GC and its partners will be planning and implementing several other qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods to better measure student outcomes and drive future programmatic improvements.
We are evaluating the following indicators in our work:
Civic knowledge refers to a student’s ability to grasp basics civic knowledge, which is taught throughout the course. This basic understanding of how the governmental process works is necessary to adequately possessing the knowledge-base necessary to effectively become an engaged political citizen.
Civic motivation refers to a student’s desire to actively participate in the political process and take action on issues they care about. This includes a student’s sense of social responsibility, civic agency and identity. Measuring how motivated students are to participate in the political process and take action as democratic citizens is crucial in our goal of creating engaged youth community leaders.
Civic skills refers to a student’s ability to use acquired skills to effectively participate in the political process. These skills are required to effectively participate in the political process, and are integral towards many notions of political participation. This includes a student’s ability to analyze and examine issues, determine the merits of different courses of action to tackle policy problems, and the ability to critically think about the role of an individual in a democratic society.
Click here for a report on “Explaining Urban Teens’ Likelihood of Voting in the Future: Academic, Social, and Civic Factors” referenced in a recent Providence Journal op-ed: Deficit, Class, and Civics Education.
Click here to read the publication “Education, Citizenship and Social Justice: The relationship between adolescents’ civic knowledge, civic attitude, and civic behavior and their self-reported future likelihood of voting” by Alison Cohen and Benjamin Chaffee.