The effect of attending college on students’ political ideology has been a controversial topic for many decades. In this study, we explored the relationship between attending a liberal arts college and students’ political views. Compared to their counterparts at other 4-year institutions, liberal arts college students began postsecondary education with more liberal political views, but also made great changes toward liberal political views over 4 years of college. These greater gains persisted even in the presence of important confounding influences such as pre-college political views. In addition, our analyses suggested a global effect of attendance at a liberal arts college on the development of liberal political views. Attempts to explain the causal mechanisms underlying this apparent institutional influence were only partially successful.
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This research was supported by a generous grant from the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College to the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education at the University of Iowa. A more extensive version of the report on which this paper is based is available at Center for Research on Undergraduate Education (CRUE) (http://www2.education.uiowa.edu/centers/crue/default.aspx).
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Hanson, J.M., Weeden, D.D., Pascarella, E.T. et al. Do liberal arts colleges make students more liberal? Some initial evidence. High Educ 64, 355–369 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-011-9498-8
- College students
- Liberal arts education
- Political ideology