Active and Engaged Citizenship (AEC)

The Active and Engaged Citizenship (AEC) scale combines four previously existing scales that measured perceptions about civic duty, an assessment of civic skills, neighborhood social connection, and civic participation.  The combined scale creates an assessment of engagement that measures the intentionality and motivations of the civic participation.  That is, it helps to detect whether individuals participating in civic activities are doing so with intentionality rather than just tagging along with a friend or participating because their club has organized an event.

This tool was tested on 909 adolescents in grades eight, nine, and ten who were present in at least two waves of data for a longitudinal 4-H study of positive youth development.  The study participants were 62.4% female, 69.6% white, 52% rural and 30% suburban.  When broken down into racial/ethnic groups or income groups, there were not enough individuals to test the tool for each population.  In addition, very few of the study participants were in urban areas so the tool could not be tested for reliability in that environment.

The tool was, however, tested for reliability of use between girls and boys.  The results show that the tool can be used with both girls and boys, but that the scores of girls and the scores of boys should not be compared. 

This tool builds on the 26-item scale previously developed and tested by Bobek, D.L., Zaff, J.F., Li, Y. & Lerner, R.M. (2009).

Tool

Administration Method
Number of Questions
32
Creator(s) of Tool
Adapted from:
Zaff, J., Boyd, M., Li, Y., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner R. M. (2010). Active and engaged citizenship: Multi-group and longitudinal factorial analysis of an integrated construct of civic engagement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(7), 736-750.
Scoring / Benchmarking
The Active and Engaged Citizenship (AEC) tool can be used in its entirety or it can be used to measure the following:

Civic Duty subscale: items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Civic Duty items should be scored in the following way:

For items 1-5: Not important = 1, Extremely important = 5; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

For item 6: Strongly Disagree = 5, Strongly Agree = 1; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

For items 7-9: Strongly Disagree =1, Strongly Agree = 5; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

For items 10 &12: Not Well = 1, Very Well = 5; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

For item 11: Not Well = 5, Very Well = 1; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

Add together the scores for each question. The lowest possible score is 12. The highest possible score is 60. Higher scores indicate higher levels of perceived civic duty.



Civic Skills subscale: items 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Civic Skills items should be scored in the following way:

o I Definitely Can’t = 1
o I Probably Can’t = 2
o Maybe = 3
o I Probably Can = 4
o I Definitely Can = 5

Add together the scores for each question. The lowest possible score is 6. The highest possible score is 30. Higher scores indicate higher levels of belief in civic skill attainment.



Neighborhood Social Connection subscale: items 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Neighborhood Social Connection items should be scored in the following way: Strongly Disagree =1, Strongly Agree = 5; boxes in the middle should be numbered in order and scored as numbered

Add together the scores for each question. The lowest possible score is 6. The highest possible score is 30. Higher scores indicate higher feelings of neighborhood connectedness.



Civic Participation subscale: items 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

Civic Participation items should be scored in the follow way:

For items 25-28:
o Never = 1
o Seldom = 2
o Sometimes = 3
o Often = 4
o Very Often = 5

For items 29-31:
o Never = 1
o Once a month or less = 2
o A couple of times a month = 3
o Once a week = 4
o A few times a week = 5
o Every day = 6

For item 32:
o Never = 1
o Once = 2
o Twice = 3
o 3-4 times = 4
o 5 or more times = 5

Add together the scores for each question. The lowest possible score is 8. The highest possible score is 33. Higher scores indicate more frequent participation in the last 12 months. If you want to measure a time period shorter than 12 months, you should change question wording to reflect that.

Active and Engaged Citizenship Overall (full scale)
Score scale items as indicated above. Add together the totals you calculated for each subscale. The lowest possible score for the full scale is 32. The highest possible score is 163. Higher scores indicate higher levels of active and engaged citizenship which demonstrates higher levels of intentionality and frequency.

It will be important for your program participants to increase or attain high levels in all areas. Thus, while looking at the score as a whole is useful, it may be more useful to look at the scores on the subscales to determine where you can help each individual improve. For example, if individuals indicate that they are frequently participating in civic engagement activities, but they have low scores on civic duty, then they are missing the intentionality behind their actions. They are participating, but they would not be considered engaged. Similarly, if their scores indicating they are participating, but their scores on civic skills are low, then they need help building confidence in their civic skills so that they will be able to engage on their own in the future.
Background / Quality
Cronbach’s Alpha for full AEC = Grades 8-10 ranges .70-.73
Cronbach’s Alpha for Civic Duty = Grades 8-10 ranges .86-.87
Cronbach’s Alpha for Neighborhood Connection = Grades 8-10 ranges .87-.89
Cronbach’s Alpha for Civic Skills = Grades 8-10 ranges .91-.92
Cronbach’s Alpha for Civic Participation = Grades 8-10 ranges .76-.78
Is there a cost associated with this tool?
No
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