Adult civic education through the national issues forums: Developing democratic habits and dispositions through public deliberation

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Adult educators stress the importance of civic education, but few studies have theorized and measured the impact of such educational programs. This study presents a social cognitive model of political participation that posits connections among deliberative education, civic dispositions, and political conversations. The validity of this model was tested using two field studies of National Issues Forums participants, and the results provided partial support for the model. The first investigation indicated that deliberative civic education had a negative relationship with participants' group efficacy and conversation dominance and positive associations with the ideological and demographic diversity of participants' conversation networks. A second study demonstrated that civic dispositions and behaviors were positively associated with forum experiences that involved higher levels of reading, listening, observing, and enactment. These findings suggest the potential value of deliberative forums as a means of civic education, but they also demonstrate that forums vary considerably in their educational impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-328
Number of pages21
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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