Conventional Civic Engagement

Compositive Model

Conventional Civic Engagement

Conventional civic engagement includes basic duties of citizenship – voting, for example – as well as volunteering and other forms of performing services for others.

Research indicates

Conventional civic engagement consists of those practices and actions we typically associate with being an engaged citizen: voting, volunteering, and participating in political and civic organizations like neighborhood associations and student government. Children from families that hold political conversations at home are more likely to vote as adults. And high school students who join political groups are more likely to vote and volunteer later in life.

  • Education plays a key role in civic engagement. High-quality civics education in high school leads to civic engagement (i.e., registering to vote).
  • Civic engagement varies by gender and socioeconomic status. Girls are more likely to volunteer than boys, and adolescents from advantaged backgrounds are more likely to volunteer than their counterparts from less advantaged homes.
  • Adolescents who are less inclined toward service and civics benefit from completing mandatory service requirements at school, demonstrating increases in both civic engagement and civic skills.
  • Students who participate in service-learning programs characterized by high levels of student voice/ownership show increases in civic engagement.

Promising practices

  • Kids Voting USA is a program (K-12) integrated in the school curriculum in the months leading up to Election Day. The curriculum includes peer discussions (e.g., classroom debates), opportunities to analyze political media, service-learning, civic activities, and activities inside the home with parents and siblings.
    • A longitudinal study found that the program had both short-and long-term effects on civic development.
  • YouthBuild is a 9- to 24-month full-time program targeting disadvantaged youth. It integrates education and community service (i.e., building homes), job training, leadership development, individual counseling, and mentoring.
  • Across Ages is a program that includes mentoring, a positive youth curriculum, and service (e.g., visits to a nursing home). 
    • Participants in the mentoring and community service learning programs demonstrated increases in civic knowledge and positive attitudes about the future.

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