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01-02-2007 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2007

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2/2007

Latino Adolescents’ Civic Development in the United States: Research Results from the IEA Civic Education Study

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 2/2007
Judith Torney-Purta, Carolyn H. Barber, Britt Wilkenfeld
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Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago. Her major research interests include the development of social and civic attitudes among adolescents across nations and the political engagement of college students. She received the Decade of Behavior Research Award in Democracy in 2005
Doctoral Candidate in Human Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializing in Educational Psychology. Her major research interests include modeling and other techniques suitable for analyzing large data sets, and also gifted and talented students
Doctoral Student in Human Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializing in Developmental Science. A former Peace Corps volunteer, her major research interests include positive youth development among minority adolescents


Many studies have reported gaps between Latino and non-Latino adolescents in academic and political outcomes. The current study presents possible explanations for such gaps, both at the individual and school level. Hierarchical linear modeling is employed to examine data from 2,811 American ninth graders (approximately 14 years of age) who had participated in the IEA Civic Education study. Analyses of large data bases enable the consideration of individual characteristics and experiences, as well as the context of classrooms and schools. In comparison with non-Latino students, Latino adolescents report more positive attitudes toward immigrants’ rights but have lower civic knowledge and expected civic participation. These differences were apparent even when controlling for language, country of birth, and political discussions with parents. School characteristics that explain a portion of this gap include open classroom climate and time devoted to study of political topics and democratic ideals. Results are discussed within the framework of developmental assets and political socialization. Implications for educational policy and ways to use large data sets are also discussed.

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