Measuring Adolescents’ Affective Civic Competence: Validity and Cross-Group Equivalence of a Second-Order Hierarchical Latent Construct
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In the last few decades, educational literature and policy makers have increasingly supported research into affective competencies—attitudes, emotions, values/ethics and motivation—as a key requirement to fostering positive youth development in the area of active and engaged citizenship. Considering that adolescents have limited opportunities to undertake civic and political activities until the age of majority, robust indicators of their affective competencies could represent valid alternatives for the analysis of their educational needs and the prediction of their future engagement. Nonetheless, researchers interested in comparing these self-perceived measures across individuals and groups must pay particularly attention to the assumption of their strong factorial invariance, which could lead to inaccurate inferences if violated. On these grounds, the present study validates and assesses the cross-group equivalence of the affective civic competence (ACC) latent construct on a sample of 3366 Italian 8th grade students, exploring also the individual differences emerging in its latent mean structure. The factorial validity of the construct and its measurement invariance across students’ gender and ethnicity are proved through the statistical techniques of second-order confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and multi-group mean and covariance structure analysis (MG-MACS). Results of the cross-group comparisons show that students’ gender does not lead to significant differences in their overall ACC mean score after correcting for partial scalar invariance, while members of ethnic minorities prove to be disadvantaged compared to natives. Limitations of the study and recommendations for future research are discussed.
KeywordsAffective civic competence Measurement invariance Mean and covariance structures analysis Adolescence Italy
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Conflict of Interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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