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ERIC Number: ED516319
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 322
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-3235-1
Bridging the Gap: The Role of Bridging Social Capital in the Development of Civic Engagement among First-Year College Students
Stephenson, Ethan Van
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan
Ample evidence suggests that attending college is positively associated with an increased level of civic engagement. However, few studies develop and test a conceptual model that investigates which elements of the collegiate experience affect the development of civic engagement. Therefore, this study focused on the development and testing of a conceptual model that identified key collegiate experiences and conditions that may foster civic engagement in the first year of college. The data for this study came from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, a large national longitudinal research project. The data set consisted of 2,188 first-year college students who were assessed in early Fall, 2006 and late Spring, 2007. Using path analysis, this study focused on five collegiate opportunities and experiences that research suggested had a positive impact on civic engagement (critical thinking, communication of one's views, ability to work with others, service-learning, and co-curricular involvement). Additionally, this study investigated the promising but understudied role played by bridging social capital, defined as heterogeneous student peer social networks, in the development of civic engagement. Two dimensions of civic engagement were used, community involvement and political engagement. Entering levels of these variables proved to be the most significant predictor for each of these dimensions of civic engagement at the end of the first year of college. Also, bridging social capital played a critical role in the development of both dimensions of civic engagement both through a large positive direct effect and as a positive mediating variable for the five collegiate experiences. In addition, curricular opportunities to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to work with others, co-curricular involvement, and membership in a religious group were found to be positively related to at least one dimension of civic engagement. Implications for practice included a call for more K-16 partnerships, curricular and co-co-curricular practices that support the development of bridging social capital, and more opportunities to develop the ability to work with others and develop critical thinking skills. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A