Civic Norms in America’s Schools
David Campbell

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Notre Dame

Primary Discipline

Political Science
This project will examine how adolescents learn civic norms in their schools. Understanding how young people develop a sense of civic obligation can shed light on the precipitous decline in young people’s political engagement, given the evidence suggesting that America’s youth are increasingly individualistic and thus have a diminishing sense of public responsibility. The eventual aim of this project is to identify ways in which participatory norms can be encouraged within schools, much as public health scholars have identified ways to facilitate norms against smoking and drinking among young people. But in order to design strategies to strengthen civic norms, we need to know how they develop in the first place.The primary dataset for this analysis will be the U.S. component of the IEA Civic Education Study (CivEd), an unparalleled source of data for civic outcomes, whether the unit of analysis is the individual student or the school. CivEd consists of interviews with roughly 2,800 students in 124 schools across the United States. The study will test a variety of potential factors affecting the strength of participatory norms within a school. Some will be of relevance to school teachers and administrators and include the degree to which students have voice in the governance of the school, the methods of civics instruction employed within the school, and the prevalence of community service among the school’s population. Other factors will be of greater relevance to policymakers, including the socioeconomic and racial diversity within the school and whether it is in the public or private sector.
About David Campbell

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