Skip to main content

Active and Engaged Citizenship: Multi-group and Longitudinal Factorial Analysis of an Integrated Construct of Civic Engagement

Abstract

Civic participation does not necessarily equate to civic engagement. However, to date, integrated measures of civic engagement that go beyond civic behaviors have not been developed. In this article, we propose an integrated construct of civic engagement, active and engaged citizenship (AEC), that includes behavioral, cognitive, and socioemotional constructs. Using data from 909 adolescents (62.4% girls) who took part in the Grades 8–10 assessments of the longitudinal 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD), we assessed the structure and measurement invariance of AEC. AEC was proposed as a second-order latent construct that encompasses four first-order latent factors: Civic Duty, Civic Skills, Neighborhood Social Connection, and Civic Participation. Measurement invariance was tested over time (from Grade 8 to Grade 10) and between boys and girls. The results supported strong invariance of AEC over time and between sexes. Implications of AEC for future research and practice are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Anderson, J. C., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 411–423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baltes, P. B., Lindenberger, U., & Staudinger, U. M. (2006). Lifespan theory in developmental psychology. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology, Vol. 1 (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Baltes, P. B., Reese, H. W., & Nesselroade, J. R. (1977). Life-span developmental psychology: Introduction to research methods. Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bentler, P. M., & Hu, L. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bobek, D. L., Zaff, J., Li, Y., & Lerner, R. M. (2009). Cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components of civic action: Towards an integrated measure of civic engagement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(5), 615–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brandtstädter, J. (1998). Action perspectives on human development. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development, Vol. 1 (5th ed., pp. 807–863). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Brandtstädter, J. (2006). Action perspectives on human development. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Theoretical models of human development. Vol. 1 of Handbook of Child Psychology (6th ed., pp. 516–568). Editors-in-chief: W. Damon and R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

  8. Burton, L. M., & Jarrett, R. L. (2000). In the mix, yet on the margins: The place of families in urban neighborhood and child development research. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 1114–1135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Byrne, B. (1998). Structural equation modeling with LISREL, PRELIS, and SIMPLIS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Byrne, B., & Stewart, S. M. (2004). The MACS approach to testing for multigroup invariance of a second-order structure: A walk through the process. Structural Equation Modeling, 13, 287–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Byrne, B., & Watkins, D. (2003). The issue of measurement invariance revisited. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 34, 155–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chavis, D. M., & Wandersman, A. (1990). Sense of community in the urban environment: A catalyst for participation and community development. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 55–81.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chen, F. F., Sousa, K. H., & West, S. G. (2005). Testing measurement invariance of second-order factor models. Structural Equation Modeling, 12, 471–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2000). Assessing extreme and acquiescence response sets in cross-cultural research using structural equation modeling. Journal of Cross-Cultural Research, 31, 187–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Curran, P. J., West, S. G., & Finch, J. F. (1995). The robustness of test statistics to nonnormality and specification error in confirmatory factor analysis. Psychological Methods, 1, 16–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and society. New York: WW. Norton & Co.

  17. Farrington, D. (1991). Longitudinal research strategies: Advantages, problems, and prospects. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(3), 369–374.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Feldt, T., Leskinen, E., Kinnunen, U., & Mauno, S. (2000). Longitudinal factor analysis models in the assessment of the stability of sense of coherence. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 239–257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Flanagan, C. A., & Faison, N. (2001). Youth civic development: Implications of research for social policy and programs. Social Policy Reports, 15, 3–14.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Flanagan, C., Cumsille, G., & Gallay, L. S. (2007a). School and community climates and civic commitments: Patterns for ethnic minority and majority students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(2), 421–431.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Flanagan, C. A., Syversten, A. K., & Stout, M. D. (2007b). Civic measurement models: Tapping adolescents’ civic engagement. CIRCLE Working Paper 55. Medford, MA: CIRCLE.

  22. Flanagan, C., Levine, P., & Settersten, R. (2009). Civic engagement and the changing transition to adulthood. Medford, MA: Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

  23. Ford, D. H., & Lerner, R. M. (1992). Developmental systems theory: An integrative approach. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: Algebra and statistics. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 382–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Fredericks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence/. Review of Educational Research, 74, 59–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Gestsdottir, S. & Lerner, R. M. (2007). Intentional self-regulation and positive youth development in early adolescence: Findings from the 4-H study of positive youth development. Developmental Psychology, 43, 508–521.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ginwright, S. A. (2007). Black youth activism and the role of critical social capital in black community organizations. American Behavioral Scientist, 51, 403–418.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Greenberger, E., & Bond, L. (1984). User’s manual for the “psychosocial maturity inventory”. Irvine, CA: University of California.

  29. Grusec, J. E., Goodnow, J. J., & Cohen, L. (1996). Household work and the development of concern for others. Developmental Psychology, 32, 999–1007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Jelicic, H., Bobek, D., Phelps, E. D., Lerner, J. V., Lerner, R. M. (2007). Using positive youth development to predict contribution and risk behaviors in early adolescence: Findings from the first two waves of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31(3), 263–273.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Jelicic, H., Phelps, E., & Lerner, R. M. (2009). Use of missing data methods in longitudinal studies: The persistence of bad practices in developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 1195–1199.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Larson, R. (2000). Towards a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55, 170–183.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Leffert, N., Beson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Sharma, A. R., Drake, D. R., & Blyth, D. A. (1998). Developmental assets: Measurement and prediction of risk behaviors among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 2, 209–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lerner, J. V., Phelps, E., Forman, Y. E., & Bowers, E. (2009). Positive youth development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology: Individual bases of adolescent development, Vol. 1 (3rd ed., pp. 524–558). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Lerner, R. M. (2004). Liberty: Thriving and civic engagement among America’s youth. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V., Almerigi, J., Theokas, C., Phelps, E., Gestsdottir, S., et al. (2005). Positive youth development, participation in community youth development programs, and community contributions of fifth grade adolescents: Findings from the first wave of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 17–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Levine, P. & Youniss, J. (2006). Youth and civic participation: Introduction. In P. Levine & J. Youniss (eds.). Youth civic engagement: An institutional turn: Circle Working Paper 45, (pp. 3–6). Baltimore, MD: The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

  38. Marcelo, K. B., Lopez, M. H., & Kirby, E. (2007). Civic engagement among young men and women. Medford, MA: CIRCLE.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Marcia, J. E. (1980). Identity in adolescence. In J. Adelson (Ed.), Handbook of adolescent psychology. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Meredith, W. (1993). Measurement invariance, factor analysis and factorial invariance. Psychometrika, 58, 525–543.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Phelps, E., Zimmerman, S., Warren, A. E., Jelicic, H., von Eye, A., & Lerner, R. M. (2009). The structure and developmental course of positive youth development (PYD) in adolescence: Implications for theory and practice. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 571–584.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Pitts, S. C., West, S. G., & Tein, J. (1996). Longitudinal measurement models in evaluation research: Examining stability and change. Evaluation and Program Planning, 19, 333–350.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (1988). Scaling corrections for chi square statistics in covariance structure analysis. ASA 1988 Proceedings of the Business and Economic Statistics Section. Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (1994). Corrections to test statistics and standard errors in covariance structure analysis. In A. von Eye & C. C. Clogg (Eds.), Latent variables analysis: Applications for developmental research (pp. 399–419). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Sherrod, L. (2007). Civic engagement as an expression of positive youth development. In R. Silbereisen & R. Lerner (Eds.), Approaches to positive youth development. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Sherrod, L. R., & Lauckhardt, J. (2009). The development of citizenship. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology: Contextual influences on adolescent development, Vol. 2 (3rd ed., pp. 372–408). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Small, S. A., & Rodgers, K. B. (1995). Teen assessment project (TAP) survey question bank. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Theiss-Morse, E., & Hibbing, J. R. (2004). Citizenship and civic engagement. Annual Review of Political Science, 8, 227–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Vandenberg, R. J., & Lance, C. E. (2000). A review and synthesis of the measurement invariance literature: Suggestions, practices, and recommendations for organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 3, 4–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Widaman, K. F., & Reise, S. P. (1997). Exploring the measurement invariance of psychological instruments: Applications in the substance use domain. In K. J. Bryant, M. Windle, & S. G. West (Eds.), The science of prevention: Methodological advances from alcohol and substance abuse research (pp. 281–324). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  51. Youniss, J. (2006). Reshaping a developmental theory for political-civic development. In P. Levine & J. Youniss (Eds.), Youth civic engagement: An institutional turn. Medford, MA: CIRCLE.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Zaff, J. F., Malanchuk, O., & Eccles, J. S. (2008). Predicting positive citizenship from adolescence to young adulthood: The effects of a civic context”. Applied Development Science, 12, 38–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Zaff, J. F., & Michelsen, E. (2001). Background for community-level work on positive citizenship among adolescents: A review of antecedents, programs, and investment strategies. Report prepared for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by a grant from the National 4-H Council.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonathan Zaff.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zaff, J., Boyd, M., Li, Y. et al. Active and Engaged Citizenship: Multi-group and Longitudinal Factorial Analysis of an Integrated Construct of Civic Engagement. J Youth Adolescence 39, 736–750 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9541-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)
  • Measurement invariance
  • Multi-group CFA
  • Longitudinal research
  • Adolescence