Political Science Now

The Effect of Political Science Education on Political Trust and Interest: Results from a 5-year Panel Study

The Effect of Political Science Education on Political Trust and Interest: Results from a 5-year Panel Study

by Ellen Claes, University of Leuven &  Marc HoogheUniversity of Leuven

Citizenship education has evolved substantially in recent decades, with a rapid proliferation of education forms and approaches. The currently available evaluation studies, however, do not allow us to determine what kind of approach can be considered as a best practice for schools and education systems. In this article, we rely on the results of a 5-year panel study to investigate the long-term effects of various forms of citizenship education. Using the Belgian Political Panel Survey (n = 3,025), a three-wave longitudinal panel survey of 16-, 18- and 21-year-old Belgian late adolescents and young adults, we determine which citizenship education effort (i.e., classroom instruction, being a member of a school council, and an open-classroom climate) has a long-term effect on political trust and political interest. The results suggest that classroom instruction, the presence of an open-classroom climate, and being a member of a school board are positively related to political trust. We also find that classroom instruction and being a member of a school board are significantly associated with higher levels of political interest. We close with some observations on what these findings imply for citizenship education policies.

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Marc Hooghe

Journal of Political Science Education | Pages 33-45 | Volume 13, 2017 – Issue 1, Published online: 18 May 2016