CCT faculty member Dr. Diana Owen and second-year students Jilanne Doom and Isaac Riddle presented a paper, “Educating Digital Citizens: The Influence of High School Civics Instruction,” at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association on January 7th in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The paper discusses the emergent need for high school civics courses to address the growing number of digital mechanisms for engaging in political and community life. The study uses original survey data of high school students and teachers from Indiana and finds that civics courses increase students’ confidence and propensity to engage in politics. The strongest finding is that an open classroom climate is most conducive to students’ feelings of confidence to engage in politics online, solve problems in their community, and participate in politics generally. Further, an open classroom climate is highly correlated with students’ anticipation that they would engage in politics across a variety of measures. Surprisingly however, the study finds that the incorporation of digital instructional techniques by teachers into their classrooms is not strongly related to an increase in students’ confidence to engage in politics online.
The paper was one of three presented on a panel of political socialization and the media. CCT’s Dr. Leticia Bode also presented a paper at the panel titled, “New Media, New Relation to Participation?: A Closer Look at Youth News Repertoires and Participation.” This paper identifies four distinct categories of news usage among youths aged 12-17 and finds that a majority of youth are news avoiders. The highest consumers of news, “news omnivores,” had the highest levels of political participation.