Engagement / Civic Skills

Compositive Model

Engagement / Civic Skills

Civic skills are skills necessary to foment civic action. These include organizational skills, communication skills, collective decision-making skills (e.g., interacting with others to achieve a common goal), and thinking skills.

Some key research findings about these skills and how they’re developed

  • Parents can play an important role in the development of civic skills. Regular political discussions with parents predicted children’s news monitoring and communication skills. 
  • Disadvantaged students have fewer opportunities to build civic skills, which can put them at greater risk for academic failure.
  • Students who participate in civic education that teaches skills such as debate and writing a letter to an official are more likely to be involved civic activities in the future, both in and outside of school.
  • Students who are taught civic skills such as debating issues are more likely to participate in a wide variety of civic activities beyond the course requirements.

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.

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