Title page for ETD etd-01092008-154455

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Mottley, Eugenia L.
Author's Email Address emottley@yahoo.com; emottley@vt.edu, emottley@vt.edu
URN etd-01092008-154455
Title Adolescents' Social Capital Resources, Future Life Expectations, and Subsequent Citizenship Participation as Young Adults
Degree PhD
Department Educational Research and Evaluation
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Singh, Kusum Committee Chair
Chang, Mido Committee Member
Fortune, Jimmie C. Committee Member
Janosik, Steven M. Committee Member
Plass, Peggy S. Committee Member
  • Structural Equation Modeling
  • Citizenship Participation
  • Future Life Expectations
  • Social Capital
Date of Defense 2007-12-03
Availability unrestricted
In this study, conceptual models of young adult citizenship participation eight years post high school using Putnam’s (1993) theory of social capital are tested. This study uses a longitudinal database. Specifically, the models posit that accumulation of more social capital resources during adolescence will be associated with more positive future life expectations related to educational, occupational, and family life outcomes. Subsequently, these more positive future life expectations and social capital resources will be associated with a higher degree of citizenship participation (as measured by voting behavior, community integration and volunteerism) as young adults. Measures from the 1990, 1992 and 2000 waves of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88) dataset were used. The models were examined using structural equation modeling procedures.

Findings indicate that school and community social capital had mixed results regarding their effects on the final outcome variables. Teacher interactions were not found to have a statistically significant direct effect on any of the three citizenship participation outcome variables. But this result should be viewed with caution due to possible measurement problems with the construct of teacher interactions. Peer interactions did have a statistically significant, direct, effect on community integration and volunteerism, but it did not have a direct effect on voting behavior. Participation in extracurricular school activities did have a small, direct, effect on all three outcome variables. Participation in community sports activities had a positive direct effect on community integration, a small negative effect on voting behavior, and no statistically significant effect on volunteerism. Finally, participation in other types of community activities had the largest direct effects on all three citizenship participation outcome variables.

The adolescent social capital variables of teacher interactions, peer interactions, and participation in other types of community activities for tenth graders did have positive, direct effects on future life expectations for twelfth graders. Extracurricular activities participation and community sports participation were not found to have an effect on future life expectations. Future life expectations were found to have a very small, but statistically significant, positive, direct effect on all three citizenship participation variables.

These findings indicate that some adolescent social capital resources can have positive direct effects on the long term, young adult, educational outcome of citizenship participation. But it varies by type of social capital resource and by the particular aspect of citizenship behavior being measured.

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