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Volunteerism as purpose: Examining the long-term predictors of continued community engagement

Publication Authors: 
Carolyn Barber, Conrad T. Mueller & Sachiko Ogata:
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
Educational Psychology (online): An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/01443410.2013.772775

This study frames continued long-term participation in community engagement activities as indicative of a sense of ‘purpose’ as defined by Damon, Menon, and Cotton Bronk (2003). Using data from US-based National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examined factors that predict whether students participating in civic engagement activities between the ages of 12 and 18 would report similar participation six years later. Multilevel logistic regression analyses revealed no demographic differences beyond age and highest level of education attained. However, continued participation was most likely among individuals who participated in a combination of voluntary and required community-based civic activities as an adolescent, and who participated in any of a number of various types of extracurricular activities. Other factors, including religiosity, sense of belonging in school, achievement, and having parents engaged in civic activities, were also positively related to continued community engagement.

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