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IES Grant

Title: Initial Efficacy Evaluation of an Action Civics Program
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Seftor, Neil Awardee: National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
Program: Civics Education and Social Studies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2021 – 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $2,752,637
Type: Initial Efficacy Award Number: R305A210335

Co-Principal Investigator: Saavedra, Anna

Purpose: Generation Citizen is a fully developed peer-to-peer action civics intervention designed to engage middle and high school students in real-world problem-solving activities to practice civic learning, motivation, and engagement. Generation Citizen reaches 25,000 students annually. Although research demonstrates that young people care about political issues, young people remain skeptical of the political process and may lack the necessary skills to participate as citizens. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of education interventions that are designed to support students in developing the knowledge and skills to be active citizens in a democratic process.

Project Activities: The researchers will randomly assign schools to the treatment and control conditions in the fall of 2021 for implementation in spring 2022. Outcome data will be collected at baseline and follow-up. In addition, the researchers will survey teachers and principals to better understand implementation, the counterfactual condition, and determine the fidelity of implementation in both groups. Cost data will also be collected and analyzed.

Products: The research team will disseminate results to a variety of education-focused audiences, including peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations, to civics education researchers, policymakers, and educators who are looking to implement best practices in civics instruction.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in high schools within two urban school districts.

Sample: The sample of high school seniors represents a diverse set of students in terms of race, ethnicity, language ability, and economic status.

Intervention: The research team will examine whether the action civics Curriculum, Generation Civics, yields differences in civics understanding and engagement in comparison to the business-as-usual intervention. Teachers in treatment schools will implement Generation Citizen under routine conditions, with the same expected level of implementation as any similar school or district intending to use the program. Teachers will receive the same curriculum resources and professional development supports that they would routinely experience outside of study conditions. The intervention will take place in classrooms during standard instructional time.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will employ a cluster randomized trial to determine the impact of the curriculum on student outcomes relative to a control condition.

Control Condition: Students in the control condition will receive business-as-usual instruction, which may include lecture, textbook readings, and project-based learning, providing a representative range in counterfactual conditions.

Key Measures: Generation Citizen is designed to affect a range of civics outcomes, including higher order thinking in civics, civic knowledge, and increased civic motivation and behavior. Outcome measures will be derived from items from the GISA and NAEP, and from researcher developed measures focusing on civics knowledge, civic motivation, and civic health. Voting data on will be collected for students who are eligible. The research team will collect all measures from both treatment and control schools during the same data collection window.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use a two-level, cluster-level random assignment model with treatment at the school level 2, students as level 1, and district indicators as fixed effects.

Cost Analysis: To estimate cost-effectiveness, researchers will use the ingredients method to document resources, their associated costs, and their impacts on student outcomes relative to the control condition.