The Relation Between Civic Education and Political Attitudes and Behavior
A Two-Year Panel Study Among Belgian Late Adolescents
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofApplied developmental science ; vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 140-150.
It is generally assumed that civic education efforts will have a positive effect on the political attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and young adults. There is less agreement, however, on the most effective forms of civic education. In the present study, we distinguish between formal civic education, an open classroom climate and active learning strategies, and we explore their effect on political interest, efficacy, trust and participation. To analyze these effects, 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 effective in shaping political attitudes and behavior. An open classroom climate, on the other hand, has an effect on political trust. We conclude that there is no reason to privilege specific forms of civic education, as each form contributes to different relevant political attitudes and behaviors.