Date of Award

Spring 3-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Winslow

Second Advisor

Dr. Farhad Jadali

Third Advisor

Dr. John Long


This study investigated the relationship between the political efficacy and expected civic engagement of eighth grade students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, Missouri and demographic factors, reading ability, and parental attitudes. Data on students’ attitudes on topics such as citizenship, trust in institutions, opportunities, political efficacy, school efficacy, and political engagement were analyzed. The 180 students who completed the questionnaire demonstrated lower trust and assessment of access to opportunities and higher youth political engagement than the participants in the 1999 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAE) Civic Education (CIVED) study. Tests to determine the impact of student variables on political attitudes revealed differences by gender, race, reading ability, and the proximity of students to two Ferguson protests areas in 2014. The few discrepancies between boys and girls refuted previous research on the gender gap in political efficacy and political engagement. Black participants had lower external political efficacy and trust, but were more likely to engage at the community level through participation in youth groups and volunteering. Lower reading ability negatively impacted internal efficacy and expected adult engagement. Close proximity to protest areas affected students’ political views, and increased some elements of internal efficacy and youth engagement. Questionnaire results revealed a positive relationship between parental and adolescent political attitudes, and qualitative data supported the essential role of parents and other adults in political socialization. Focus group and interview findings suggested that young people were politically engaged in a variety of ways, and students expressed a strong desire to have their voices heard through political discussion and action. It is recommended that iii educators and community leaders offer opportunities for increased exposure and participation in political activities while students are in middle school, and continue this through high school.


Copyright 2017