Civic engagement

Scale: Active and Engaged Citizenship (AEC) – Civic Participation scale

What it measures:

  • The frequency with which the youth engages in civic-related behaviors.

Intended age range: 13- to 16-year-olds (grades 8—10)

Brief description: This measure consists of 8 items. Youth are asked to report how often in the last year they engaged in various civic activities. Sample items include: “How often do you help make your city or town a better place for people to live?” and “During the last 12 months, how many times have you been a leader in a group or organization?” Some items are rated on a 5-point scale – Never to Very often/5 or more times whereas other items are rated on a 6-point scale – Never to Every day.

Rationale: This scale was selected based on its brevity, ease of administration, and promising evidence of reliability and validity.

Cautions: This tool has only been assessed with youth in grades 8 to 10 and may not be as relevant for younger youth and those living in urban areas. Although the reading level required is lower than 8th grade, the activities may not be as relevant for younger youth.

Special administration information: None

How to score: Each item is scored from 1 (Never) to 5 (Very often/5 or more times) or from 1 (Never) to 6 (Every day). The total score is computed by summing across the items.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores indicate more frequent participation in civic activities during the last 12 months.

Access and permissions: The measure is available for non-commercial use with no charge or advance permission required. A link to the measure is made available here.

Alternatives: None recommended.


Citation: 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, 36, 736–750. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9541-6

More in this category: « Physical activity Problem Behavior »

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