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Youth Civic Engagement: Using Simulations and Design Thinking


Research Team

Name

Principal Investigator: Evan Choi

Co-Principal Investigators: Surin Kim, Maria de Guzman

Funding Information

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Agriculture—National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Award Date: Sep 1, 2019

End Date: Aug 31, 2021

Abstract

This project develops an engaging and innovative learning program that includes online simulations and design thinking to provide civics, entrepreneurship and leadership education to at-risk youth in two of the highest poverty communities with large racial and ethnic minority populations in Nebraska — Douglas and Scotts Bluff counties. 

It incorporates two evidence-based curricula adapted for use in a 20-hour summer camp: 

  • iCivics, which uses online gaming simulations to promote citizenship and civic engagement; and 
  • Lean LaunchPad®, an experiential learning tool to improve problem-solving skills. 
Participants will comprise 7th- and 8th-grade youth in the selected sites. Program topics and the age range were selected based upon the project team’s prior research and experience in Extension programming, which pointed to lack of civic engagement and need for a sense of community as critical social issues affecting individuals and as barriers to community revitalization in high-poverty communities with large ethnic minority populations.

The program aims to promote youths’ civic knowledge and skills, attitude and behavioral engagement, and increase community capacity that leads to sustaining this program. 

A mixed methods longitudinal panel design will be used to measure program outcomes at baseline and follow-up assessments. Focus group interviews will be conducted at the end of each program year. The team will develop a pilot curriculum and test feasibility in Year 1; refine the curriculum in Year 2; expand the program in Year 3; adapt the curriculum for afterschool model in Year 4; and integrate the program into 4-H Extension programming in Year 5.


Rural Education & Communities, Academic Intervention & Learning

Evan Choi, associate professor of child, youth and family studies
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