A case study of college student political involvement

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Title: A case study of college student political involvement
Author: Wilson, Katherine R. Bryant
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation study is to explore and describe the development of political attitudes and behaviors in current undergraduate academic life. By undertaking this study, I sought to add to the understanding of student learning as it pertains to college student development through political involvement. I employed an embedded case study design comparing two groups of highly politically involved 18-24 year old college students at a large, public, urban university. Selective sampling resulted in the identification of two case study groups. One group (n=3) was highly politically involved in high school. The other group (n=3) became highly involved once in college. By selecting groups based upon high school political involvement, this study began to examine what experiences influence the development of this important college outcome. This study generates a conceptual model that combines Astin's (1970a) Theory of College Impact, Verba, Schlozman and Brady's (1995) Civic Voluntarism Model, CIRCLE's (2003) Index of Civic and Political Engagement. This model proposes that if students have available resources and something engages their interest in politics, experiences such as work, academic experiences, co-curricular involvement, service participation and church participation may be avenues for the development of both civic skills and social connections that lead to political involvement. For students in this age range, concurrent processes of cognitive development and socio-cultural identity development may also contribute to the development of political involvement. Political involvement can take the form of electoral and campaign behaviors, political voice activities and attentiveness to current issues and political news. Differences between the two groups studied yielded few findings all of which occurred in pre-college factors. Although the small sample size and the limitation of the study to a single institutions suggest the need for more research to confirm these findings, this study affirms the strong influence that intentional college experiences may have in developing positive political attitudes and behaviors.
Description: xiv, 120 p. A print copy of this title is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/9499
Date: 2008-12

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