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23-06-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2016

Youth’s Initiations of Civic and Political Discussions in Class: Do Youth’s Perceptions of Teachers’ Behaviors Matter and Why?

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2016
Sevgi Bayram Özdemir, Håkan Stattin, Metin Özdemir


Teachers are thought to play an important role in fostering youth civic engagement; however, the current literature is limited with regard to providing concrete suggestions as to what teachers can do to promote youth civic engagement and why teachers have an impact on youth. To address these limitations, we simultaneously tested three alternative explanations to identify the critical way(s) in which perceived teachers’ behaviors might contribute to youth civic engagement in school. We also investigated the underlying processes that may explain why youth’s perceptions of teachers’ behaviors matter, by focusing on the mediating roles of young people’s feelings about politics and their political efficacy beliefs. The sample included 7th (n = 876, M age  = 13.42, SD = .71; 51 % girls) and 10th grade students (n = 857, M age  = 16.62, SD = .71; 51 % girls) residing in Sweden. Among the different aspects of perceived teacher behaviors, only an engaged and inspiring teaching style fostered youth’s initiations of civic and political discussions in class over time among both early and late adolescents. Moreover, youth’s feelings about politics significantly mediated the effect of perceived teachers’ behaviors on youth civic engagement in class. Contrary to our expectation, youth’s political efficacy did not act as a mediator. The present study sheds light on what teachers can do to promote youth civic and political engagement in a school setting.

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