Education for Deliberative Democracy

Michael McDevitt
September 1, 2004

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This progress report provides evidence for persistent influence of Kids Voting USA, an interactive
civic curriculum taught during election campaigns. The entire research project consists of multiple waves
of student and parent interviews, covering a three-year period. Respondents were recruited from families
in Arizona, Colorado, and Florida. The students were juniors and seniors when first interviewed in the
aftermath of the 2002 election. The survey results from that year, described in an earlier report, are used
as a baseline indication of the immediate influence of KVUSA. Those results provided substantial evidence
for the initial effects of Kids Voting on students, on parents, and on family norms for political competence.
The question now is whether this optimistic impression is warranted once we take a look at
the long-term effects. In other words, did the curriculum exert a lasting influence or was its impact
fleeting and ultimately inconsequential in the lives of students and parents? Based on a second wave of
interviews, this report describes the extent of Kids Voting effects one year after student participation.
The results show a consistent and robust influence of Kids Voting after the passage of 12 months despite
controlling for demographics such as family socioeconomic status and parent history of voting. In 25 tests
of curriculum influence, KVUSA netted 21 effects in the areas of news media use, discussion, cognition,
opinion formation, and civic participation.
Deliberative Democracy. We judge KVUSA as a successful catalyst for deliberative democracy,
as students continued on toward a discursive path to citizenship after the end of the curriculum. Not
only did the frequency of discussion increase in the long run, students became more skilled at holding
political conversations. For instance, the curriculum promoted dispositions such as the willingness to
listen to opponents and feeling comfortable about challenging others in discussion. Students learned to
partake in passionate ? but civil and respectful ? discourse. Also evident is a desire that is at the heart of
deliberative democracy: motivation to validate opinions by testing them out in conversations and seeing if
they are persuasive.
Curriculum Components. When considering the curriculum components collectively, service
learning and encouraging people to vote exerted the most consistent influence. Both activities allow older
students to interact with people outside the high school, providing realistic opportunities for community
involvement. Taking sides in debates and teacher encouragement of student opinion expression also stood
out as particularly effective elements of Kids Voting. Thus, peer discussion that allows for uninhibited and
heartfelt expression is more beneficial for civic education than safe, subdued exchanges.
High School Journalism. In light of the Knight Foundation?s interest in high school journalism,
this report provides a supplemental analysis of the effects of newspaper experience on various
dimensions of civic involvement. In a process that seems to parallel KVUSA effects, participation in
journalism increased the number of discussion partners, active processing of political information, and
opinion formation.
Effects on Parents. Our prior studies showed that Kids Voting stimulates parents? civic
involvement indirectly, by prompting student-initiated discussion at home. Here we were able to show
that these results persist over time. This phenomenon illustrates that political socialization should not be
viewed as a process that begins and ends in childhood. We present a model of second-chance citizenship
in which parents increase their political involvement due to their children?s participation in Kids Voting.
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The Final Test. The institution of Kids Voting is perhaps most valuable to foundations and to
educators as a heuristic for imagining what a school can accomplish as a learning environment that
diffuses to other spheres. In this report and in previous studies, we have found that Kids Voting effects
are detectable at the following levels:| Individual student: e.g., media use, knowledge| Individual parent: e.g., media use, knowledge| Student-parent dyad: e.g., discussion| Family: e.g., norm of encouragement to use news media| Community/culture: e.g., expanded discussion networks
As we look ahead to the third wave of interviews this fall, we will keep in mind that the youth
respondents were juniors and seniors when first interviewed in 2002. Some will have left home to attend
college or to enter a trade; some might have gotten married. Virtually all members of this cohort would
have graduated from high school. With these major life decisions as a backdrop, we will see whether Kids
Voting USA makes a difference in shaping their civic lives as they leave childhood behind.
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BACKGROUND
Dismay over the political disengagement
of young Americans has motivated a flurry of
experimentation in strategies to recapture a
culture of civic commitment. Kids Voting USA, a
curriculum oriented toward elections, stands out
in this era of innovation by virtue of its inclusive
architecture. While the program is most concretely
a set of K-12 lesson plans, it represents the
simultaneous involvement of teachers, students,
parents, election officials, community activists, and
local news media. Kids Voting is possibly unique
in its incorporation of so many agents of political
socialization: schools, elections, families, peer
groups, and mass communication. The program
attracts a great deal of scholarly attention because
of the field conditions created by this coordination
of effort. From such synergy has come surprising
and unintended effects, such as children taking
the lead in family discussions of politics and
lower-income families gaining the most in political
knowledge (McDevitt & Chaffee, 1998). Perhaps
what is most intriguing about KVUSA is its potential
for creating a microcosm of deliberative democracy
out of daily life.
These impressions of the program are
backed up by a growing body of research on Kids
Voting. The curriculum appears to be remarkably
effective at promoting political interest of students
and parents during an election campaign, as shown
in several studies by the principal investigator
of the current project (McDevitt & Chaffee,
1998, 2000; McDevitt, 2004). Settings for these
evaluations were San Jose, California, in 1994
and in 1998, and in Lubbock, Texas, in 2000. Kids
Voting stimulated news media use, discussion with
parents, the acquisition of knowledge, and the
formation of partisan opinions. Other scholars have
examined the capacity of Kids Voting to generate
increases in parents? vote turnout (of 1.7 to 3.9
percent) in regions in which the program has a
foothold (Merrill, Simon, & Adrian, 1994). More
recently, research has investigated the community
characteristics that predict the likelihood that a
school district will adopt the program in the first
place (Jordan, 2003). However, noticeably missing
from this literature is an assessment of long-term
impacts.
OVERVIEW OF PROJECT
We provide evidence for persistent influence
of Kids Voting in this progress report to the Knight
Foundation and CIRCLE. The entire project consists
of multiple waves of interviews of high school
students along with one parent from each family.
The panel study covers a three-year period and
has recruited respondents from families in Arizona,
Colorado, and Florida. These families represent a
diverse sample with varying degrees of exposure to
the curriculum in several community and electoral
contexts. The students were juniors and seniors
when first interviewed in the aftermath of the
2002 election. The initial survey findings were
supplemented by a series of focus group interviews
of students in Florida in the summer of 2002. The
survey results, described in an earlier report, are
used as a baseline indication of the immediate
influence of KVUSA as taught in the fall of 2002.
These results provided substantial evidence
for the influence of Kids Voting on students,
on parents, and on family norms for political
competence. The question now is whether this
optimistic impression can be sustained once we
take a hard look at the long-term effects. In
other words, did the curriculum exert a lasting
influence or was its overall impact fleeting and
thus ultimately inconsequential in the lives of
students and parents? Based on a second wave of
interviews, this report describes the extent of Kids
Voting effects one year after student participation.
We evaluate the curriculum in the following areas:
news media use, knowledge, opinion formation,
intention to vote in 2004, volunteering, political
activity, discussion, and deliberative habits such as
the willingness to listen to opponents.
During the three-year study period, the
youth respondents will have all graduated ? or
otherwise left ? high school, and all will be of
voting age when we interview them for a final
time in the fall of this year, immediately after the
2004 election. Looking ahead, we will examine the
voting records for the sampling regions in the three
states to document whether each student and
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parent voted. While it is possible that Kids Voting
will account directly for a higher vote turnout, we
suspect that much of this influence will be mediated
by other factors such as media use, strength of
partisan attitudes, and habits of discussion. Thus,
KVUSA is likely to be most consequential as a
catalyst for behaviors that lead to voting and other
forms of active citizenship. These findings will come
with our third and final report. For now we focus
on effects during an intermediate stage, 12 months
after the original exposure.
RESEARCH GOALS
In contemplating what the lasting influences
might encompass, it does not make sense for us
to confine the analysis to standard indicators of
civic learning, such as textbook knowledge. Kids
Voting has garnered attention from journalists and
researchers precisely because its interactive, peercentered
strategy provides an alternative approach.
Civic instruction in the United States, in fact, has
become a kind of whipping boy for democracy.
In a critique of the philosophical assumptions
underlining social studies courses, Shermis and
Barth (1982) concluded:
What is now clear is that social studies
by most teachers has nothing to do with
teaching the development of critical skills
and decision-making. School practices have
to do with discipline and the training of
future citizens to become passive spectators
(p. 33).
This harsh assessment, while perhaps overly
pessimistic, is echoed in contemporary critiques.
For example, a content analysis of three widely
used American textbooks found that students are
exposed to few messages that provide instruction
on how to participate in collective activism
(Strachan, Hildreth, & Murray, 2004). In parallel
fashion, empirical studies have found that the
top-down, learning-by-rote approach appears to
do little more than transmit textbook knowledge
(Niemi & Junn, 1998). In fact, we suspect that such
mechanistic instruction is counterproductive by
stifling any latent curiosity adolescents might have
about politics.
What perspective, then, should we bring
toward an evaluation of Kids Voting? Adolescents
are too young to vote, of course, so turnout is
not an appropriate test. And the internalization
of attitudes supportive of a political regime, while
necessary to any democratic system, seems
outdated as a criterion for active citizenship.
Deliberative democracy, which we will define
shortly, is up to the task as a normative compass
for anticipating how the school might contribute
to information seeking, critical thinking, reflection
on issues, and active discussion. Along with
documenting effects of the overall curriculum, a
second goal of this report is to identify components
that are most consequential. Finally, in light of
the Knight Foundation?s interest in high school
journalism, we include an analysis of this
experience as an impetus to civic development.
Deliberative Democracy. For most of
its career, ?deliberative democracy has been
something of a small, rarefied sub-field of political
theory and philosophy? (Ryfe, 2004, p. 1). Recently
however, there seems to be a contagion of interest
in designing institutions to enact deliberation
(e.g., Fishkin & Laslett, 2003) and a separate but
compatible effort to test whether philosophical
assumptions hold up in actual behavior (e.g.,
Dutwin, 2003). Deliberative democracy refers to
a process in which citizens voluntarily engage in
discussion to share knowledge, to express opinions,
and to understand the perspectives of others.
As defined by theorists, interactions must be
characterized by reasoned argument, reciprocity,
tolerance, and equality. Many have celebrated
deliberation as an opportunity to revive grassroots
participation, and this explains the pragmatic
impulse to design and to study deliberative forums
as testing grounds. At the individual level, this
form of citizenship is thought to engender self
transcendence; apart from any contribution to
the political system, deliberation makes for better
human beings by promoting tolerance, reflection,
and civility (Warren, 1992).
We see great value in applying this
perspective to civic education in general, and to
Kids Voting as a specific case. Schools embody
?communities in which young people learn to
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interact, argue, and work together with others, an
important foundation for future citizenship? (Center
for Information & Research on Civic Learning &
Engagement, 2003, p. 5). As the only institution
with a mandate to reach virtually every child,
schools can foster equality of civic preparation
while engendering democratic dispositions.
While deliberative democracy implicates a
literature of philosophical abstraction, it has been
operationalized as concrete behaviors. These are
(1) news exposure, (2) talking about politics and
news, (3) refinement of opinions based on news
and discussion, and (4) participation in the political
system. Kim, Wyatt and Katz (1999) validated this
model with a diverse sample of adult respondents,
and we will use a similar approach to assess
KVUSA. In the area of media use and cognition,
our student and parent indicators include attention
to news, knowledge, salience of the economy as
an important issue, and information integration.
For interpersonal communication, measures
include frequency of discussion, willingness to
express opinions, listening to opposing views,
and willingness to disagree openly. We have
also included indicators for opinion confidence,
the development of strongly held views, and
partisanship. For activities and behavioral intention,
we created measures of support for conventional
politics, support for unconventional activism (such
as participating in boycotts), and intention to vote
in 2004.
Curriculum Components. Kids Voting
encompasses a multi-pronged approach based on
peer-centered learning, information gathering,
and hands-on activity. The program took root on
a trial basis in six Arizona communities in 1988,
and has since spread to 40 states. Approximately
4.3 million children and adolescents took part in
KVUSA during 2003 elections (Jordan, 2003). The
overall program includes three domains. Within the
classroom, the Civics Alive! curriculum promotes
the rights and responsibilities of voting, but also
the principle that citizens should study candidates
and issues. This emphasis is particularly important
for deliberative dispositions that might carry over
into other social spheres such as the family and
the community. Second, KVUSA offers community
service in its Destination Democracy events. This
extension of the curriculum into the community is
especially important for older students as they are
offered realistic opportunities to assert themselves
in activities such as get-out-the vote campaigns.
The final aspect of the program is the actual voting
of students on Election Day ? students cast ballots
alongside parents in a concurrent election.
Our prior evaluations focused on influences
of the entire curriculum. In this study, after
looking at Kids Voting lesson plans, we selected 10
components that represent the main elements of
high school instruction. For classroom interaction,
we measured:| Frequency of discussion about election issues.| Teacher encouragement to express opinions.| Taking sides in classroom debates.| Analyzing political cartoons.| Analyzing political ads.| Homework assignments that involve family
discussion.
For community involvement, we measured:| Service learning.| Working at a polling site.| Encouraging people to vote.
Finally, we measured:| Mock voting (with parents).
High School Journalism. In the first
report, we documented a strong and consistent
relationship between participation in high school
journalism and political involvement. While this
analysis is not part of the KVUSA evaluation, we
will look for long-term effects given the Knight
Foundation?s interest in high school journalism.
Findings from the first year provide an empirical
affirmation for those who believe that news writing
instruction should be preserved if not expanded
in school districts across the country. The results
showed that student journalists were superior to
non-journalists in 18 out of 18 indicators of civic
growth as measured in 2002. We infer that the
differences between the two groups are larger
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than what this analysis revealed because of design
limitations. The questionnaire included only one
item about journalism (?Did you write or edit
for a school newspaper??) and the number of
respondents who said yes to this question was only
65.
From an empirical standpoint, we
venture into uncharted territory in proposing
that newspaper experience is connected with
civic growth. While the study of high school
journalism extends back to the early days of mass
communication research (Callahan, 1998), we
were unable to find any studies that explored the
consequences of newspaper experience for political
socialization of teenagers. How then, might writing
and editing affect political behavior? As described
by Brady and his colleague, the social skills that are
transferable to politics are largely communicative
in nature (Brady, Verba, & Scholzman, 1995).
The process of interviewing, writing, editing, and
receiving feedback encourages students to think
critically about news reporting and about the issues
they cover (Dvorak, Lain, & Dickson, 1994).
METHOD
The design calls for documenting effects in
three simultaneous field experiments. Interviews
of students and parents were conducted in El Paso
County, CO, with Colorado Springs as the largest
city; Maricopa, County, AZ, which includes the
Phoenix region; and Broward/Palm Beach counties,
FL, an epicenter for the ballot-recount scandal of
2000. Each site includes both Kids Voting schools
and a comparison group of schools. As described
in Figure 1, the overall study is conducted in three
phases, representing the consecutive years of
student and parent interviews. The first phase
involved interviews of juniors and seniors, along
with one parent from each family, following
the 2002 election. The curriculum had been
implemented during the initial months of the school
year to coincide with the end of the campaign. All
families were likely exposed to the campaign to
some extent via media coverage and spontaneous
discussion. And the non-KV schools would still
provide some type of civic instruction, of course.
However, only the Kids Voting families are likely
to include teenagers who would be exposed to the
extensive experiences provided by Kids Voting.
S1 and P1 in Figure 1 represent the first wave of
student and parent interviews. S2 and P2 signify
the interviews of the same respondents, which
occurred one year after the curriculum experience.
This second report to the Knight Foundation and
CIRCLE describes these findings. S3 and P3 are
planned interviews two years after the curriculum
exposure, which will be conducted after Election
Day of 2004.
QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN
This study takes advantage of field settings
that create condition for a series of natural
Figure 1. Panel Design: Three Waves
First Phase Second Phase Third Phase
September to
Election Day 2002
November 2002 to
February 2003
November 2003 to
February 2004
Fall 2004
Election campaign Election campaign
Students: Kids Voting for
experimental
group
S1 interview S2 interview S3 interview
Parents: P1 interview P2 interview P3 interview
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experiments. Similar demographics between
the KV vs. non-KV students would help us to
eliminate extraneous factors as explanations for
Kids Voting effects. The design does not fit entirely
the requirements for a fully controlled experiment
in that we could not randomly assign students
to contrasting conditions. We consequently
characterize this study as a quasi-experiment,
in which the selection to comparison groups is
unbiased but not literally randomized. A particular
student?s participation in KVUSA was determined
by decisions made by school administrators and
teachers. We confirmed in a regression analysis
that demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity,
and academic prowess did not predict exposure
to Kids Voting. But there is still the possibility that
adolescents, by virtue of parent influence or family
socioeconomic status (SES), might be predisposed
to participate in KVUSA. This same regression
analysis failed to show any significant relationships
between parent and family background and the
student?s exposure to Kids Voting.
SITE SELECTION
Data collection from several regions adds
to variation in instructional activities such as the
frequency of classroom debates. The three sites
? one in the Southwest, one in the Rocky Mountain
West, and one in the Southeast ? increase our
capacity to make generalized inferences about
curriculum influence. Furthermore, each community
has a unique political environment provided by
local candidates, issue controversies, and news
coverage. We used the following selection criteria
for the sites:| Strong implementation of Kids Voting.| The existence of both Kids Voting and comparison
schools.| Ethnic and SES diversity.| Proximity to principal investigators; this is the
case for the Colorado and Florida counties.
Descriptions of demographics and the
electoral contexts for each site is provided in the
first report (McDevitt, Kiousis, Xu, Losch, & Ripley,
2003).
DATA COLLECTION & SAMPLING
The total sample during the first wave of
data collection ? i.e., for time 1 (T1) ? included
students representing more than 150 schools.
We obtained lists of students and parents from
a leading vendor for survey sample frames,
and completed interviews of 497 studentparent
dyads (994 respondents). Here we will
describe methods used for the second wave of
interviews (T2). To maximize the response rate for
telephone interviews, we followed up with mailed
questionnaires to non-respondents. In addition,
we included small incentives ($5 phone cards) for
participants. Interviews began in early November
2003 and ended in mid February, 2004. At least 25
attempts were made before coding a number as
unreachable.
A confluence of design factors created a
daunting challenge for us in trying to achieve a
high response rate. Adolescent children represent
a difficult-to-reach population, and we needed to
gain cooperation from both a parent and a student
to complete a dyad for both interview waves. The N
for the second wave of interviews is 271 completed
dyads, representing a completion rate of 55
percent from the baseline N. This rate measures up
well compared to other studies that have sought to
reach young adults on matters of civic engagement
without the benefit of school-site administration
(National Survey of Student Engagement, 2002).
The sample obtained is upwardly biased due
to differential rates of cooperation, mobility, and
availability of respondents. We tried to counteract
the tendency for an upper-SES tilt by offering
the phone-card incentives, but the total sample
undoubtedly under-represents low-SES groups
and parents who speak Spanish as their first
language. These sampling biases should be kept
in mind while interpreting the results, but they do
not pose problems for inferences about Kids Voting
influence given that we did not find any appreciably
demographic differences between KVUSA families
and the comparison group.
MEASUREMENT
Kids Voting Exposure. A continuous
scale represents the reality of Kids Voting
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implementation better than a dichotomous
indicator in that a teacher might opt to use some
components but not every lesson plan. The
student questionnaire at T1 included the 10 items
previously listed ? they were used to trigger a
respondent?s recall of Kids Voting experiences.
The response options, coding and reliability are
provided in the Appendix. The frequencies of
exposure to the various components across the
three sites are included in the first report to the
Knight Foundation (McDevitt et al., 2003).
Curriculum Influence. We included an
array of civic involvement indicators involving
media use, discussion, cognition, opinions, and
civic intentions and behaviors. The Appendix
provides the item wording and coding schemes
for these variables along with demographics for
students and parents. Univariate descriptive
statistics for the outcome variables are provided in
the first report.
Demographics. The following demographic
variables were measured for students: gender,
ethnicity, religious group membership, grade
level, and grades earned in school. For parents,
the indicators are gender, ethnicity, SES, religious
group membership, and frequency of prior voting.
VALIDITY
Most of the criterion variables for
curriculum effects are based on self-reports of
political behavior. These measures are subject to
exaggeration or selective recall as respondents
seek to make themselves appear more civic minded
than they really are. However, our concerns about
internal validity are alleviated due to several design
elements:| The questionnaires included a knowledge
test for students and parents, creating at least
one category of effect not subject to demand
characteristics of the interview. If knowledge is
then strongly correlated with curriculum exposure
and other criterion indicators, there is evidence
that the overall pattern of curriculum influence is
real.| A general bias in reports about civic involvement
might not affect correlations across an entire
sample in that adding a constant to everyone?s
score would not alter correlation coefficients.
And while social desirability in survey responses
is potentially related to particular attributes of
respondents, we controlled for demographic
influence in our tests of Kids Voting effects.| The students ? not their parents ? were asked
about participation in Kids Voting. Consequently,
the questionnaire design reduces the chance that
associations between curriculum participation and
parent behaviors would result as mere artifacts of
measurement.
RESULTS
DIRECT EFFECTS ON STUDENTS
We begin with a look at the direct effects
on students. A regression model was created
that controls first for a variety of demographics
frequently associated with civic development. Our
intent is to assess what KVUSA might accomplish
beyond what would normally occur due to the
social location of a particular family. Prior studies
have reported that background factors such as
SES, age, gender, grades in school, membership
in religious organizations, and ethnicity predict the
pace of political development. We also included
a measure of parent voting history to assess
curriculum influence once we account for parental
political involvement.
As shown in Table 1, Kids Voting continued
to have a strong impact on media use a year
after the baseline measurements. The curriculum
exerted a persistent influence on students?
attention to news about politics and attention to
news about the economy as a prominent issue.
Kids Voting also fostered use of the Internet as
an alternative news source. However, the lack
of influence on general television viewing shows
that the curriculum does not trigger an increase in
all types of media use. This is a positive sign for
KVUSA given scholarship that suggests excessive
TV viewing ? of the couch potato variety ? is
associated with civic inaction (Putnam, 2000).
Finally, the intervention simulated adolescents to
encourage their parents to pay more attention to
news, thereby providing an avenue for parents to
benefit from student exposure to the curriculum.
This finding is significant for the students
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themselves in that the behavior suggests that
they view public affairs as relevant to their daily
lives; otherwise they would not make the effort to
motivate parents.
Several long-term effects on interpersonal
communication were documented, as shown
in Table 2. The increase in peer and parent
conversation replicates our prior evaluations
of Kids Voting in Lubbock and in San Jose. The
finding for size of discussion network (?= .31)
is particularly promising because students are
probably expanding the range of viewpoints they
are exposed to. This result in particular seems
to reveal the capacity of KVUSA to alter the civic
culture of a community beyond individual-level
effects. The curriculum seems to have spawned a
web of networks for the diffusion of discussion and
interpersonal influence. Kids Voting also promoted
conversational skills and related dispositions such
as the willingness to disagree, willingness to listen
to opponents, testing out opinions in conversation,
and challenging the views of parents.
With respect to cognition (Table 3), we
documented the long-term impact of the curriculum
on how students learn and think about the political
environment. Kids Voting impacted all three
indicators. The influence on knowledge is especially
important because it strengthens the internal
validity of the study ? unlike other measures
derived from questionnaire data, knowledge is not
subject to exaggeration or selective recall. This
long-lasting influence demonstrates that interactive
instruction can help students develop cognitive
skills that persist beyond the immediate stimulation
of an election. The curriculum also increased
active processing of information and salience of
the economy as an important issue. These findings
suggest that KVUSA expands the capacity to
assimilate information from various sources while
Table 1: Effects of Kids Voting on Student Media Use One Year
Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Media Use Outcomes
Attention to political news .02 .06*** .25*** .08***
Attention to Internet news .07* .03** .18** .10**
Attention to economic news .04 .04*** .22*** .08***
General TV viewing .12*** .00 .01 .12***
Encourage parent to pay
attention
.04 .05*** .23*** .09***
* p<.05 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership,
parent SES, and voting history of parent (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were entered
simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental variance
attributed to exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The third column reports
the beta produced by the second equation. The final column reports the total variance explained.
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motivating concern about public affairs. A plausible
explanation for the knowledge effect is that
students had developed habits of news exposure
and interpretation that endured well after the
curriculum ended.
Table 2: Effects of Kids Voting on Student Discussion One Year
Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Discussion Outcomes
Discussion with parents .11*** .07*** .28*** .18***
Discussion with friends .11*** .08*** .29*** .19***
Size of discussion .04 .09*** .31*** .13***
Willingness to disagree .08* .10*** .33*** .18***
Listening to opponents .05 .07*** .27*** .12***
Testing opinions for
response
.02 .05*** .23*** .07***
Testing opinions to
persuade
.02 .04** .20** .06**
Challenging parent .06^ .02^ .13^ .07^
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership,
parent SES, and voting history of parent (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were entered
simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental variance
attributed to exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The third column reports
the beta produced by the second equation. The final column reports the total variance explained.
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Moving on to opinions (Table 4), Kids Voting
exposure was linked with increased skepticism
toward news media. This again reveals that the
curriculum helps ensure that students are not just
passive recipients of information, but are critical of
content they consume. Of course, the line between
skepticism and cynicism can blur, which could have
negative outcomes for civic development. This
possibility will be explored further with the T3 data.
The modest linkage with opinion confidence and the
significant association with ideology indicate that
KVUSA exposure leads to attitude formation and
crystallization. These are important outcomes given
the perspective of Sears and Valentino (1997) that
?individuals should be regarded as well-socialized
if they have well-informed crystallized attitudes
toward the important political objects of the day?
(p. 46). The lack of stimulation of partisanship, we
suspect, is a consequence of Kids Voting efforts to
be non-partisan. Another explanation involves the
growing tendency of youth to not align with one of
the two major parties.
Table 3: Effects of Kids Voting on Student Cognition One Year
Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Cognition
Knowledge .08* .03** .18** .11**
Salience of
economy
.01 .05*** .24*** .06***
Active Processing .07* .07*** .27*** .14***
* p<.05 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership,
parent SES, and voting history of parent (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were entered
simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental variance
attributed to exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The third column reports
the beta produced by the second equation. The final column reports the total variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Turning to civic behaviors and intentions
(Table 5), Kids Voting enhanced support for
conventional political participation as measured
one year later. This support seems to translate
into actual behavior as curriculum exposure was
associated with political activity at school and
volunteering in the community. The latter finding
suggest that Kids Voting helps to build social
capital outside of the political arena (Putnam,
2000). These young adults are not just becoming
more active citizens in the political sense, but
more active members of their communities in a
social sense. Although a direct effect of KVUSA
on intention to vote was not observed, it is likely
that Kids Voting has an indirect effect by initiating
processes that lead to vote intention. We will
explore such influence later when we consider the
indirect effects of the curriculum.
Table 4: Effects of Kids Voting on Student Political Opinions
One Year Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Opinion Outcomes
Perceived media bias .12** .04** .19** .16***
Opinion confidence .01 .01^ .11^ .02^
Party identification .07* .01 .11 .08*
Ideological
identification
.05 .02* .16* .07*
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership,
parent SES, and voting history of parent (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were entered
simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental variance
attributed to exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The third column reports
the beta produced by the second equation. The final column reports the total variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
In summary, Kids Voting?s long-term effects were
systematic across multiple dimensions of civic
involvement. For the 25 indicators, the average
amount of variance explained by the curriculum
was 4 percent. This stacks up well against the
average of 7 percent for the block of demographics,
which include multiple competing predictors. Table
6 illustrates curriculum influence in relationship to
effects of individual and family background.1 Two
patterns are quickly evident ? KVUSA makes a
difference in students lives beyond demographics,
and the program is more consequential for media
use and discussion than for cognition, opinion
formation, and activity. However, media use and
discussion provide motivation and competence
for the other aspects of political involvement.
Kids Voting, consequently, can impact these other
behaviors directly as well as indirectly through
political communication.
Table 5: Effects of Kids Voting on Student Civic Intentions and
Behavior One Year Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Behavior & Intention
Support for conventional
politics
.10*** .02* .15* .12***
Support for unconventional
activism
.10*** .01 .08 .11***
Participation in political
activities
.02 .02* .15* .04*
Volunteering for organizations .07* .02* .14* .09*
Intention to vote in 2004 .17*** .01 .10 .18***
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership,
parent SES, and voting history of parent (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were entered
simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental variance
attributed to exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The third column reports
the beta produced by the second equation. The final column reports the total variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
EFFECTS OF CURRICULUM COMPONENTS
With influence of the cumulative curriculum
evident in so many areas, we are left to wonder
about aspects of KVUSA that make the most
difference. We will highlight only the main findings
here to keep the discussion brief, but complete
tables of results are included in the Appendix.
The evaluation is based on partial correlations
generated from regression equations that control
not only for demographics but for the simultaneous
influence of the other curriculum components.
This in effect pits curriculum components against
Table 6: Summary of Kids Voting Effects One Year Later (% of
Variance Explained)
Attention to news
Attention to Internet news
Attention to economic news
Encourage parent attention
Discussion with parents
Discussion with friends
Size of discussion network
Willingness to disagree
Listening to opponents
Testing opinions for response
Testing opinions to persuade
Challenging parent views
Knowledge
Salience of the economy
Active processing
Perceived media bias
Opinion confidence
Party identification
Ideological identification
Support of conventional politics
Support of unconventional
politics
Political activities
Volunteering
Intention to vote in 2004
5 10 15 20
Percent of Variance Explained
Demographics
Kids Voting
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
each other to see which ones stand out. These
curriculum components are probably symbiotic
or interactive with respect to influence, and in
this regard it might seem counter-intuitive to
parse out distinct effects. From a pragmatic
perspective, however, we recognize the importance
of generating insight as to which activities are
most effective, particularly for civic educators and
administrators.
With respect to media use (Appendix Table
1), the activity of encouraging people to vote
has the strongest impact as it is associated with
attention to Internet news, attention to news
about the economy, and encouraging parents to
pay attention to news. Serving learning is also
linked to increased attention to news on the
Internet and encouragement of parental media use.
Interestingly, encouragement of parent media use
is the most influenced outcome variable among this
array of media-use behaviors. As suggested by our
model of ?trickle-up influence,? student-initiated
discussion extends to efforts to influence parents.
In this case we can see a kind of role reversal with
children encouraging parents to become more
civic-minded. We note finally that taking sides in
debates at school is linked with decreased attention
to general TV viewing (as opposed to TV news). As
noted above, this is probably a positive outcome
in terms of citizenship in light of Putnam?s (2000)
argument that the passivity of TV viewing soaks up
time that could otherwise be used to build social
capital.
In terms of discussion (Appendix Table
2), several curriculum components are positively
associated with a variety of interpersonal
communication outcomes. Teacher encouragement
for expressing opinions, taking sides in a political
debate, service learning, and encouraging people
to vote are the most consequential of the Kids
Voting components. These effects encompass
more than just the frequency of discussion ? they
include several pro-social habits associated with
deliberative democracy, such as the willingness to
openly disagree and to listen to opponents, and
the motivation to test out opinions in conversation.
Among our various dimensions of civic growth, Kids
Voting components have the strongest influence on
political discussion.
Specific elements of Kids Voting were
less effective in predicting cognition, but all
outcome variables were influenced by at least
one component (Appendix Table 3). For example,
voting with a parent was positively associated
with increased knowledge, and frequency of class
discussion was linked with salience of the economy
as an important issue. Analyzing political ads,
service learning, and encouraging people to vote
led to active processing of political information.
This outcome is normatively important in that it
equips adolescents with skills needed to synthesize
disparate ideas from news and from conversation.
The ability to integrate information is also a central
mediating variable that facilitates other civic
outcomes such as knowledge, opinion formation,
and confidence in voting decisions.
While the cumulative curriculum stimulated
attitude formation in several areas, the component
analysis revealed only a few instances of specific
effects (Appendix Table 4). The totality of KV
activities is perhaps required for a substantial
benefit. However, analyzing political ads and
encouraging people to vote did lead to increased
opinion confidence. Meanwhile, service learning
was linked with partisanship.
In the final area ? civic behaviors and
intentions ? taking sides in a political debate
and service learning wielded the most influence
(Appendix Table 5). Both variables predicted
increased support for conventional politics and
participating in political activities on a school
campus. The latter finding is of particular
significance because it represents an impact on
students? actions in the political arena a full year
after exposure to the curriculum. Encouraging
people to vote and voting with a parent in 2002
were positively correlated with intention to vote in
2004. This suggests that lesson plans and activities
focusing on the act of voting itself are effective in
fostering motivation for future voting.
INDIRECT EFFECTS ON VOTE INTENTION
Next we map the process by which Kids
Voting might contribute to voting intention as
students inch closer to their first chance to cast an
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
official ballot. Prior research exploring the empirical
dynamics of deliberative democracy offers guidance
by suggesting that attention to news prompts
increased discussion, which subsequently leads
to opinion formation and finally to motivation for
political participation (Kim, Wyatt, & Katz, 1999).
It is our expectation that exogenous interventions
such as Kids Voting can serve as a triggering force,
which sets in motion a process that results in
greater intention to vote. Path modeling was used
to test this premise. Figure 2 presents a ?trimmed?
path model in that only statistically significant
paths are shown.2 While not depicted in the figure,
demographics are controlled for in the analysis.
Figure 2: Path Model Predicting Student Intention to Vote
KVUSA Participation at T1
.27***
Attention to News at T2
.23*** .53***
.20**
Discussion at T2
.18*
Support for Conventional
Participation at T2
.31***
Intention to Vote at T2
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
final effect is probably a positive outcome in that
it might reflect increased sophistication, from an
insider?s point of view, about how media portrays
politics.
EFFECTS ON PARENTS
A small group of parents might volunteer for
certain KVUSA activities, but generally parents are
not exposed directly to the curriculum. However,
we would not be surprise if many parents were
influenced by the program even though they never
heard of Kids Voting. This indirect influence, from
school to student to parent, does not necessarily
occur because of homework assignments that
direct students to interview parents about politics.
Instead, student-initiated discussion seems to
reflect an intrinsic desire of students to share
with parents what they learned in school or from
media. Our prior studies confirm this theoretical
inference. As shown in Table 2, the curriculum?s
influence on student-parent discussion persisted a
year later. This is noteworthy in that many of the
youth respondents would have graduated from high
school; many would have moved into their own
apartments or moved entirely out of town to attend
college. And yet this discursive bond with parents
survived.
Thus, we expect that KVUSA continued
to influence parents through the medium of
family discussion. Nevertheless, some parents
might be exposed directly to some aspect of the
curriculum by reading through student materials
or participating in a community event sponsored
by Kids Voting. To assess the long-term influence
of Kids Voting on parents, a regression model was
generated by first controlling for demographics,
then assessing the influence of student curriculum
exposure in 2002, and finally measuring the
variance explained by student-parent discussion as
measured in 2003. Table 7 reports the effects on
parent media use one year later.
The sequence of this model is derived from
theoretical assumptions about how deliberative
democracy should work, and we are gratified to
see here that the empirical results match up with
this expectation. Kids Voting acts as a catalyst to
initiate the overall process. By stimulating habits
of news media use and discussion that endure over
many months, the curriculum promotes opinions
and orientations that seem to make voting more
relevant and important for young adults. Students,
in effect, appear primed to participate in the
presidential election of 2004.
EFFECTS OF HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM
The curriculum works, in part, by asking
students to gather information from various
sources to evaluate campaign issues and
candidates. This vetting of partisan perspectives
and the integration of multiple perspectives are
also the stuff of journalistic reporting. Thus, by
analogy, we anticipate that writing and editing for
a newspaper would lead to the same deliberative
outcomes promoted by Kids Voting. To examine
this possibility, we compared the means of the
criterion variables for students with and without
newspaper experience. Only 65 students from the
T1 sample indicated that they wrote or edited for
a campus paper, restricting the statistical power to
detect differences, and this number decreased to
39 respondents in T2. Consequently, we present
the findings for T2 as an exploratory analysis to
illustrate the value of future research on high
school journalism effects.
The single most impressive result involves
size of discussion network. The difference in
means for the number of conversation partners
at T2 was significant at p sample size. This effect makes intuitive sense in
that reporters of all ages must cultivate sources
to share information about public affairs. Another
finding apparently related to reporting experience
entails active processing of political information.
This difference in means was significant at p .05. Those with journalism experience at T2 also
possessed on average more opinion confidence
(p stronger perceptions of media bias (p www.civicyouth.org 19
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Table 7: Effects of Kids Voting and Student-Parent Discussion
on Parent Media Use One Year Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta
Child-Parent
Discussion
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Media Use
Outcomes
News attention .04 .00 -.03 .03* .18* .07*
Economic news
attention
.05^ .01 -.13 .01 .08 .07^
General TV viewing .09*** .00 -.07 .00 .03 .09***
Encouragement of
child
.01 .01 .05 .03* .18* .05*
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
gender, SES, religious group membership, and prior voting (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were
entered simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental
variance attributed to student exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The
third column reports the beta produced by the second equation. The fourth column reports the amount of
incremental variance attributed to student-parent discussion, which was entered into the third equation.
The fifth column reports the beta produced by the third equation. The final column reports the total
variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Kids Voting did not appear to directly
influence parent news habits in the long run.
Student-parent discussion, however, had a
positive impact on parents? attention to news and
encouragement of child media use. The second
effect ? coupled with the corresponding result of
students encouraging parents ? demonstrates that
Kids Voting can function as a triggering force for
reciprocal influences between parents and children.
These findings have important implications for how
we might think about the family?s contribution to
citizenship. Once energized by a civics curriculum,
the family might take the form of a domestic
sphere in which household norms for civic
competence persist (McDevitt & Kiousis, 2004).
The reciprocal encouragement of media use is
probably both a cause and a consequence of this
emergent family norm.
KVUSA also failed to predict any of the
parent discussion behaviors in terms of direct
influence (Table 8). Student-parent discussion,
however, was associated with increased discussion
of parents with friends, willingness to openly
disagree, and testing out opinions to see how
others respond.
Table 8: Effects of Kids Voting and Student-Parent Discussion
on Parent Interpersonal Communication One Year Later
(Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta
Child-Parent
Discussion
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Discussion Outcomes
Discussion with friends .06* .00 -.03 .04*** .23*** .10***
Size of discussion
network
.11*** .00 .02 .00 .04 .11***
Willingness to disagree .06* .00 -.08 .02* .14* .08*
Listening to opponents .04^ .00 .00 .01 .10 .05^
Testing opinions for
response
.05^ .00 .00 .03** .19** .08**
Testing opinions to
persuade
.04^ .00 .02 .00 .06 .04^
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
gender, SES, religious group membership, and prior voting (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were
entered simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental
variance attributed to student exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The
third column reports the beta produced by the second equation. The fourth column reports the amount of
incremental variance attributed to student-parent discussion, which was entered into the third equation.
The fifth column reports the beta produced by the third equation. The final column reports the total
variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Shifting to parent cognition and opinions
(Table 9), KVUSA did provide direct stimulation for
partisan and ideological identity. These represent
impressive and perhaps surprising outcomes
for a school-based intervention aimed mostly at
students. The findings help us to challenge the
perspective that individuals are locked into stable
patterns of civic involvement ? or disengagement
? once they reach adulthood.
Student-parent discussion was linked with
increased knowledge and active processing. The
knowledge finding is impressive given that 21
percent of the variance was already accounted
for by the control variables. These two outcomes
probably reinforce each other as processing
skills make knowledge acquisition easier, and a
foundation of knowledge provides perspective
for integrating new information. The point we
want to emphasize is that this upward spiral
of reinforcement appears to be stimulated by
family discussion. This makes sense in light of
prior studies showing that anticipation of future
conversations motivates information seeking from
news media (e.g., Kanihan & Chaffee, 1996).
Table 9: Effects of Kids Voting and Student-Parent Discussion
on Parent Cognition and Opinion One Year Later (Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta
Child-Parent
Discussion
R2 Change Beta Total R2
Cognition, Opinion
Outcomes
Knowledge .21*** .00 -.04 .04*** .21*** .25***
Issue salience .03 .00 -.02 .00 -.03 .03
Active processing .06* .01 .07 .02* .15* .08*
Perceived media bias .03 .00 .02 .00 .04 .03
Opinion confidence .04 .00 .04 .00 .01 .04
Party identification .08** .02* .14* .00 .01 .10**
Ideological identification .09*** .03* .14* .01 .09 .13***
* p<.05 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
gender, SES, religious group membership, and prior voting (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were
entered simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental
variance attributed to student exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The
third column reports the beta produced by the second equation. The fourth column reports the amount of
incremental variance attributed to student-parent discussion, which was entered into the third equation.
The fifth column reports the beta produced by the third equation. The final column reports the total
variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
In terms of behavioral influence (Table
10), student exposure to Kids Voting was a
marginal predictor of parents? support for
conventional politics. Most notably, it prompted
greater intention to vote. While the effect is
again modest, this influence is worth pondering
because the curriculum?s direct impact is stronger
for the parents than the students. And we should
emphasize again that the control variables include
prior voting along with a host of demographic
factors that tend to predict participation. These
controls, in fact, accounted for a hefty percentage
of variance in parents? vote intention (34 percent).
This demographic predictability is consistent with
prior research, which has shown that once an
individuals reaches adulthood, her probability of
voting remains fairly constant from election to
election. And yet KVUSA seemed to have induced
greater motivation to vote among the parent
respondents. Another intriguing twist is that
student-parent discussion does not seem to play
a major role in this outcome, as shown in Table
10. We are left to speculate as to the mechanism
of influence. Perhaps parents? mere awareness of
a child?s participation in Kids Voting ? without the
need for discussion ? creates a lasting impression
about the value of voting. Adults might begin
to realize that their duties as parents extend to
citizenship and that they should provide good
role models. However, we are cautious with such
conjecture because this indicator only measures
intention. We will assess the relationship between
intention and actual voting in the final phase of
this study when we examine county voting records
following the 2004 election.
Table 10: Effects of Kids Voting and Student-Parent Discussion
on Parent Civic Behaviors and Intentions One Year Later
(Regression)
Demographics
R2
Kids Voting
R2 Change Beta
Child-Parent
Discussion
R2 Change Beta Total
R2
Behavior & Intention
Outcomes
Support of conventional
politics
.12*** .02* .11^ .00 .06 .14***
Support of unconventional
activism
.01 .00 .03 .01 .07 .01
Volunteering at school .08** .01 .07 .00 .01 .08**
Neighborhood activism .02 .01 .10 .01 -.09 .04
Intention to vote in 2004 .34*** .02** .14* .00 .04 .36***
* p<.05 p=""> Note: The first column reports the amount of variance accounted for by the following variables: ethnicity,
gender, SES, religious group membership, and prior voting (1996, 2000, & 2002 elections), which were
entered simultaneously in the first equation. The second column reports the amount of incremental
variance attributed to student exposure to Kids Voting, which was entered in the second equation. The
third column reports the beta produced by the second equation. The fourth column reports the amount of
incremental variance attributed to student-parent discussion, which was entered into the third equation.
The fifth column reports the beta produced by the third equation. The final column reports the total
variance explained.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
CONCLUSION
Taken together, the results show a
consistent and robust influence of Kids Voting on
students and parents after the passage of one
year. We would not assess the magnitude of effects
as remarkable across the board, but the overall
pattern is impressive given the time between
exposure and the T2 measurements and given the
numerous demographics used as controls. In other
words, we tried to account for as many competing
influences as possible with respect to factors that
predict political engagement. A particularly strong
control, for example, is parent?s history of voting
or non-voting. This indicator, along with measures
such as family SES and student grades, help us
to interpret the strength of Kids Voting effects in
relationship to other socializing influences.
In this light, we conclude that KVUSA makes
a difference above and beyond what we could
otherwise predict from social background. In 25
tests of curriculum influence, Kids Voting netted
21 effects, involving news media use, discussion,
cognition, opinion formation, and civic participation.
We are particularly pleased to show that the
program resulted in the long-term acquisition of
political knowledge. This is a key finding in terms
of the internal validity of this study in that the
knowledge test is not subject to respondents?
selective recall or exaggeration. Because
knowledge is correlated with the other indicators
of civic involvement, we can be confident that the
overall pattern reflects actual growth.
Deliberative Democracy. The knowledge
effect also helps us to interpret the meaning of the
long-term effects. The measure does not capture
the absorption of textbook content but knowledge
that is most likely obtained outside the classroom,
via media use and discussion. Unlike in many
evaluations of medical or behavioral interventions,
we are not assessing the persistence of effects in
a traditional sense. Certainly the curriculum had
a beginning and ending point ? from September
to early November 2002 to coincide with the final
lap of the election campaigns. But we are not
measuring effects analogous to a half life or to a
gradual decay. Instead, the nature of Kids Voting
effects involve the induction of civic habits that
are intrinsic and self-perpetuating. Ideally these
dispositions would take root in an individual and
would grow with the passage of time. It is up to the
individual to sustain growth by paying attention to
news and initiating conversations.
From this perspective, we judge KVUSA as
a successful catalyst for deliberative democracy,
as students continued on toward a discursive path
to citizenship after the end of the curriculum.
Students became more skilled at holding political
conversations by embracing many of the ideals
for discourse espoused by theorists of deliberative
democracy. For instance, the curriculum promoted
dispositions such as the willingness to listen to
opponents and feeling comfortable about challenge
others. In other words, students are learning to
partake in passionate ? but civil and respectful
? discourse. Also evident is a desire that is at
the heart of deliberative democracy ? motivation
to validate opinions by testing them out in
conversations and seeing if they are persuasive.
We also pursued a supplemental analysis
of the effects of high school journalism. In a
process that seems to parallel KVUSA effects, this
experience increased the number of discussion
partners while stimulating active processing of
information and opinion formation.
Curriculum Components. The analysis of
curriculum component effects can provide funding
organizations and educators guidance regarding
priorities for program implementation. KVUSA
is, after all, a complicated and time-intensive
endeavor and not every school district will be
convinced that it has the time and resources to
conduct the entire program. When considering
the components separately, service learning and
encouraging people to vote exerted the most
consistent influence. Both activities allow students
to interact with people outside the school, providing
realistic opportunities for community involvement.
Taking sides in debates and teacher encouragement
of student opinion expression also stood out as
effective elements of Kids Voting. Thus, peer
discussion that allows for uninhibited and heartfelt
expression is more beneficial for civic education
than safe, subdued exchanges.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Prior evaluations have tended to show
that the strongest KVUSA effects occur in the
middle grades as young adolescents have reached
a cognitive level in which they can appreciate
the significance of citizenship (Chaffee et al.,
1995). Older adolescents, on the other hand,
are less likely to be enchanted by the pomp and
symbolism of patriotic appeals. Our results seem
to indicate, however, that high school students will
respond when challenged to assert themselves as
autonomous citizens in their communities. Students
apparently build self esteem and a sense of civic
efficacy by making a difference in service learning
and in campaigns to get out the vote.
Effects on Parents. Our prior studies
showed that Kids Voting stimulates parents? civic
involvement indirectly, by prompting studentinitiated
discussion. Here we showed that these
results endure. This phenomenon illustrates that
political socialization should not be viewed as a
process that begins and ends in childhood. The
impression created by a great deal of political
behavior research is that an individual is either
recruited for active citizenship early in life or that
person is relegated to civic apathy throughout
adulthood (e.g., Brady et al., 1995). This is the
demographics as destiny view of citizenship, and
while this view is troubling in terms of democratic
philosophy, it is the reality of social science
research. Or is it? We have validated instead
a model of second-chance citizenship in which
parents increase their political involvement due to
their children?s participation in Kids Voting.
The Final Test. As we contemplate the
meaning of the overall influence of KVUSA, it
strikes us how far we have ventured from the
traditional indicators of civic instruction, such
knowledge of textbook content. And this expansive
view of civic learning makes sense given the
mission of the public school system to promote
citizenship in social realms that extend beyond the
classroom. In this sense, the institution of Kids
Voting is perhaps most valuable to foundations and
to educators as a heuristic for imagining what a
school can accomplish as a learning environment
that diffuses to other spheres. In this report and in
previous reports, we have found that Kids Voting
effects are detectable at the following levels:| Individual student: e.g., media use, knowledge| Individual parent: e.g., media use, knowledge| Student-parent dyad: e.g., discussion| Family: e.g., norm of encouragement to use
news media| Community/culture: e.g., expanded discussion
networks
As we look ahead to the third wave of
interviews this fall, we will keep in mind that the
youth respondents were juniors and seniors when
first interviewed in 2002. Some will have left home
to attend college or to enter a trade; some might
have gotten married. Virtually all members of this
cohort would have graduated from high school.
With these major life decisions as a backdrop,
we will see whether Kids Voting USA makes a
difference in shaping their civic lives as they leave
childhood behind.
www.civicyouth.org 25
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
NOTES
1. We did not include general TV viewing in the illustration because the lack of Kids Voting
influence is probably a positive outcome, as we discussed.
2. For this analysis, media use and interpersonal discussion indices were created. The items for
the media use index were attention to news about politics and attention to news about the economy (r
= .45, p <.001 the="" items="" for="" discussion="" index="" were="" student-parent="" frequency="" studentpeer=""> discussion frequency, and frequency of discussing the economy with others (alpha = .73).
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www.civicyouth.org 27
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
APPENDIX: ITEM WORDING & CODING FOR MEASURES
Student Demographics
These measures were assessed during the first year of data collection (T1).
Grade Level
A single item determined year in school:
What grade are you in at school? Coded: 11th=1, 12th=2.
Grades Earned
A single item measured grades received in school.
Would you say your grades are mostly A?s, B?s, C?s or D?s? mostly A?s=4, mostly B?s=3, mostly C?s=2,
mostly D?s=1.
Gender
A single item determined gender.
What is your gender? female=1, male=2.
Ethnicity
An item asked about ethnic background.
Of what ethnic group do you consider yourself? Hispanic (including Chicano and Spanish), Native
American, African American, Asian, and other= dummy 1; white=dummy 2.
Religious Group Membership
One item asked about membership in religious organizations.
Are you a member of a religious group or club?? no=0, yes=1.
Parent Demographics
Gender, ethnicity, and religious group membership were identical to the student measures. Data for
these measures were also assessed at T1.
SES
A two-item scale measured family socioeconomic status based on the parent?s report of income and
education. We standardized the coded values for each item and summed the scores.
For statistical purposes, we need to estimate household income before tax. Indicate the category that fits
you. less than $15,000=1, $16,000 to $25,000=2, $26,000 to $40,000=3, $41,000 to $60,000=4.
Indicate your level of formal education completed. some high school=1, graduated from high school=2,
some college=3, graduated from college=4, attended graduate school=5.
The correlation is .36 (p <.> Prior Voting
A summed, three-item scale assessed frequency of prior voting.
Did you vote in this year?s election (2002)? Coded no=0, yes=1.
Did you vote in the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush? no, don?t recall=0,
yes=1.
Did you vote in the 1996 presidential election between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole?
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
The alpha is .79.
Student Exposure to Kids Voting at T1
The questionnaire items are provided earlier in the report. For the first two questions, students
used a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?never? and 5 meaning ?very often.? Students then answered ?yes?
or ?no? to the remaining questions. These items were coded as yes=1 and no=0. We also asked students,
with a single item, to recall how often they participated in these activities in prior grades:
Please recall what you did in previous grades. How many of the activities just mentioned did you
participate prior to this year? Coded: none=0, 1-2=1, most=2, all or nearly all of them=3.
We combined the eleven items to create a composite measure of curriculum influence. Cronbach?s
alpha for the scale is .63.
Student & Parent Indicators of Civic Involvement at T2
The following variables, measured during the second year, were identical or nearly identical for
students and parents:
Attention to Political News
A single item was used. Respondents answered with a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?none? and 5
?a great deal.?
How much attention do you pay to news about politics?
Attention to News about the Economy
A single item was used; respondents answered with the same 1-to-5 scale.
How much attention do you pay to news about the economy?
General TV Viewing
For this single-item measure, we used the original number provided by respondents.
On average, how many hours per day, if any, do you watch TV?
Encouragement of Media Use
For this single-item measure, the options and coding were as follows: not at all like me/not
sure=1; somewhat like me=2; a lot like me=3.
I frequently encourage a parent to pay attention to news events.
Frequency of Discussion with Friends
Respondents answered using a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?never? and 5 meaning ?very often.?
How often did you talk about politics with your friends?
Size of Discussion Network
We used the original number provided by respondents for this measure.
How many friends do you have who like to talk about politics?
Willingness to Openly Disagree
A single item was used. Respondents answered with a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?never? and 5
meaning ?frequently.?
In conversations, how often do you openly disagree with people about politics?
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Willingness to Listen to Opposing Views
A single item was used; respondents answered with the same scale.
How often do you listen to people talk about politics when you know that you already disagree with them?
Testing Opinions for Response
Respondents used the same scale for this item.
How often do you test out opinions in conversations to see how people might respond?
Testing Opinions to Persuade
Students and parents used the same scale for this item.
How often do you test out opinions in conversations to see if your views are persuasive?
Political Knowledge
For students, seven questions were used to create a summed scale. Answers were coded 0 for
incorrect, 1 for don?t know (DK), and 2 for correct.
Which party do you consider more liberal?
Which party is more in favor of tax cuts to help stimulate the economy?
Which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives?
Which party controls the U.S. Senate?
What is the party affiliation of General Wesley Clark?
What is the party affiliation of Richard Cheney?
What is the party affiliation of Howard Dean?
The alpha is .60.
For parents, the questions above were used along with the following:
Which party would you say is more in favor of school vouchers?
Which party is more in favor of reducing government regulations to help stimulate the economy?
What is the party affiliation of Tom Daschle?
The alpha is .72.
Salience of Economy as an Issue
A single question was used; respondents answered with a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?not
important? and 5 meaning ?very important.?
How important is the issue of the economy?
Active Processing of Information
For students, four items comprised a summed scale. The response options and coding were as
follows: not at all like me/not sure=1; somewhat like me=2; a lot like me=3.
When I see or read a news story about an issue, I try to figure out if it is biased.
News about people running for office makes me wonder how they might change things.
When I hear news about politics, I try to figure out what is REALLY going on.
When I join in political conversations, I find myself tying the arguments to ideas I had before.
The alpha is .67.
For parents, the items about people running for office and about conversations were dropped to
improve reliability. The remaining items were correlated at .42 (p <.> Perceived Media Bias
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
For students, a three-item scale measured perception that news media are biased.
How much bias is there in TV news?
How much bias is there in newspapers you read?
How much bias is there in Internet news?
The alpha is .79.
For parents, the Internet news item was dropped to improve the reliability. The correlation for the
remaining items is .60 (p <.> Confidence in Opinion
To assess degree of opinion confidence, respondents were initially asked, What best describes your
feelings about the government?s handling of the economy? Using a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?none?
and 5 meaning ?a great deal,? they considered the following:
How much confidence do you have in this opinion?
Partisan Identity
A single item measured whether a respondent identified with one of the major parties. Which
of the following best represents your political beliefs? Response options and coding: Republican,
Democrat=2; Independent, other=1.
Ideological Identity
One item assessed whether a respondent identified with a political ideology.
Would you say you?re liberal, conservative, moderate, neither, or are you not sure? Coded: liberal,
conservative=2; moderate, neither, not sure=1.
Support for Conventional Politics
Three items were summed to create a composite measure. Respondents used a 1-to-5 scale with
1 meaning ?do not support? and 5 meaning ?strongly support.?
Voting on a regular basis.
Contributing money to a political party.
Wearing a Republican or Democrat campaign button.
The alpha is .69 for students and .60 for parents.
Support for Unconventional Activism
Six items were summed to create a composite measure. Respondents used the same response
options.
Confronting police in a protest.
Participating in a boycott against a company.
Refusing to wear clothes with corporate logos.
Creating a Web site to embarrass a corporation.
Trespassing on private land to protest the cutting down of ancient forests.
Refusing to pay taxes in order to protest a government policy.
The alpha is .71 for students and .68 for parents.
Intention to Vote
Respondents were asked how well the following statement described them:
I DEFINITELY plan to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Coded: not at all like me/not sure, DK=1;
somewhat like me=2; a lot like me=3.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Student-Only Measures of Civic Involvement at T2
Attention to News on the Internet
Respondents used a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?none? and 5 meaning ?a great deal.?
How much attention do you pay to news on the Internet?
Frequency of Discussion with Parents
A single item was used. Students answered with a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?never? and 5
meaning ?frequently.?
How often do you talk about politics with your parents?
Challenging Parents
Students answered with a 1-to-5 scale with 1 meaning ?never? and 5 meaning ?frequently.?
How often do you express opinions to challenge a parent?
Participation in Political Activities
We used a ?branching question? to first identify whether a respondent was still a student in
high school or a student in college. If so, the student was asked:
At your campus this year, have you participated in any political activities such as protests or
demonstrations? Coded: yes=1, no=0.
Volunteering
A single item measured political volunteering.
Have you volunteered this year for any political organizations or causes? The same coding was used.
Parent-Only Measures of Civic Involvement at T2
Volunteering at School
Have you volunteered at a school within the last year? The same coding was used.
Neighborhood Activism
Have you gotten together informally with others to try to deal with a neighborhood problem or a
community issue? The same coding was used.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Appendix Table 1: Effects of Kids Voting Components on Student Media Use One Year Later
(Partial Correlations)
Curriculum
Components
Discussing
election in
class
Teacherencouragement
to express
opinions
Taking
sides in
debates
Analyzing
political cartoons
Analyzing
political ads
Servicelearning
Working
at polling
sites
Encouraging
people to
vote
Family
homework
assignments
Vote with
parent
Attention
to political
news
.09
.03
.10
.00
.11
.07
.00
.06
.00
-.01
Attention
to news on
the Internet
.03
-.01
.00
.03
.01
.12^
-.11
.18**
-.01
-.02
Attention
to news
about the
economy
.04
.09
.06
.00
.04
.05
.03
.19**
-.02
-.01
General
TV
viewing
.01
.06
-.12^
.04
-.09
-.04
.05
-.06
.06
-.08
Encourage
parent to
pay
attention
-.07
.23***
-.04
-.01
.06
.22***
-.14*
.14*
.07
-.05
^ p<.10 p=""> <.001> Note: The partial correlations are generated from a regression equation that first controls for the following variables: ethnicity, year in school when exposed to
Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership, parent SES,
and voting history of parent.
www.civicyouth.org 33
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Appendix Table 2: Effects of Kids Voting Components on Student Discussion One Year Later
(Partial Correlations)
Curriculum
Components
Discussing
election in
class
Teacher
encouragement
to express opinions
Taking sides
in debates
Analyzing
political
cartoons
Analyzing
political ads
Service
learning
Working at
polling sites
Encouraging
people to
vote
Family
homeworkassignments
Vote with
parent
Discussion
with parents
.08
.13^
.09
-.01
.07
.16*
.00
.11
-.05
.05
Discussion
with friends
.05
.12^
.15*
-.05
.04
.10
-.10
.14*
.09
.05
Size of discussionnetwork
.07
.05
.11^
.00
.05
.08
-.04
.19**
.16*
.02
Willingnessto openly
disagree
.07
.12^
.14*
-.04
.06
.19**
-.05
.11
.03
.09
Listening to
opponents
.00
.14*
.11
-.01
.07
.07
-.01
.10
-.01
.05
Testing out
opinions for
response
-.03
.03
.08
.09
.04
.17*
.06
.18**
-.03
.06
Testing out
opinions to
persuade
-.01
-.01
.15*
.04
.04
.19**
-.01
.13^
-.02
.02
Expressionto challenge
parents
.03
-.04
.17*
-.08
-.01
.04
.04
.22**
.00
.02
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The partial
correlations are generated from a regression equation that first controls for the following variables: ethnicity,
year in school when exposed to Kids Voting
in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership, parental SES, and voting history of parent.
www.civicyouth.org 34
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Appendix Table 3: Effects of Kids Voting Components on Student Cognitions One Year Later
(Partial Correlations)
Curriculum
Components
Discussing
election in
class
Teacher
encouragement to
express opinions
Takingsides in
debates
Analyzing
political cartoons
Analyzing
political ads
Servicelearning
Working
at polling
sites
Encouraging
people
to vote
Family
homework
assignments
Vote with
parent
Knowledge
-.02
.10
.08
.09
.00
.05
.04
.03
.01
.12^
Issue
salience
.17*
.11
.07
-.02
.01
.10
.04
.06
-.06
.07
Active
processing
.09
.07
.10
-.07
.20**
.19**
-.06
.15*
-.15*
.02
^ p<.10 p=""> Note: The partial correlations are generated from a regression equation that first controls for the following variables: ethnicity, year in school when
exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership, parent SES, and voting history of parent.
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Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Appendix Table 4: Effects of Kids Voting Components on Student Political Opinions One Year Later
(Partial Correlations)
Curriculum
Components
Discussing
election in
class
Teacherencouragement
to express
opinions
Takingsidesin
debates
Analyzing
political cartoons
Analyzing
political ads
Servicelearning
Working
atpolling
sites
Encouraging
people to
vote
Family
homework
assignments
Vote
with
parent
Perceived
media bias
-.02
.05
-.01
.07
.11
.09
.00
.07
.02
.01
Confidence
in opinion
.00
.01
.03
-.02
.13^
-.13^
.03
.12^
-.01
.10
Partisanship
.02
.08
-.04
.09
-.09
.12^
-.04
-.01
.04
.08
Political
ideology
-.06
.10
.09
.04
-.01
.00
-.09
.02
.09
.01
^ p<.10> Note: The partial correlations are generated from a regression equation that first controls for the following variables: ethnicity, year in school when
exposed to Kids Voting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership, parent SES, and voting history of parent.
www.civicyouth.org 36
Education for Deliberative Democracy: The Long-term Influence of Kids Voting CIRCLE Working Paper 22: September 2004
Appendix Table 5: Effects of Kids Voting Components on Student Civic Behaviors and Intentions One Year Later
(Partial Correlations)
Curriculum
Components
Discussing
election in
class
Teacherencouragement
to express
opinions
Takingsides
in
debates
Analyzing
political cartoons
Analyzing
p
olitical ads
Servicelearning
Working
atpolling
sites
Encouraging
people to
vote
Family
homework
assignments
Vote
with
parent
Support for
conventional
politics
.10
-.01
.12^
-.01
-.08
.13^
-.03
.02
-.01
.06
Support for
unconventional
activism
.01
.02
.03
-.04
.01
.06
.03
.10
.01
.02
Participated in
political
activities
-.03
.04
.16*
-.01
.05
.12^
.03
-.03
.03
.01
Volunteered
for
organizations
.01
.01
.02
.04
.07
.05
.02
.10
-.04
.10
Intention to
vote in 2004
.06
-.09
.05
.00
.00
.04
-.02
.13^
.01
.13^
^ p
<.10 p=""> Note: The partial correlations are generated from a regression equation that first controls for the following variables: ethnicity, year in school when
exposed to Kids Vo
ting in 2002, grades earned, gender, religious group membership, parent SES, and voting history of parent.


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