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Developing students as public servants from the classroom to the polls
Unformatted Document Text:  Draft: Lindaman and Charles 2 ABSTRACT How are students encouraged to participate in the political process beyond voting? The current trend towards civic engagement would lend students to greater levels of political efficacy. However, this is difficult to measure in the classroom. Our initial experiment with students as poll workers demonstrated their experiences did indeed have a positive affect on their views towards the election process and their roles as public servants. Using an initial dataset of ten student poll workers, survey data were collected through a distribution of pre and post surveys and thorough interviews. Students received a wide variation in training to perform their tasks as election judges from training sessions to distributed training manuals. Some students only received on-the-job training which may have been reduced to logistical explanations. The data showed the experiences of the poll workers were not only affected by their training (or lack thereof) but also were significantly directed by their professional and educational training. For example they were held accountable by their course expectations, their professional ethics and their education. This allowed them to perform their required tasks well, but in addition it affected their sense of civic responsibility and civic engagement in a positive direction evidenced by their exit interviews. In a time of intense scrutiny of our voting process and the role of election officials, these findings are very important. The preliminary data suggest that election workers are indeed held accountable even when there is variation among their formal bureaucratic training. In our study students recognized the value of election officials and the importance of their training from multiple of sources.

Authors: Lindaman, Kara. and Charles, Ruth.
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background image
Draft: Lindaman and Charles
2
ABSTRACT
How are students encouraged to participate in the political process beyond voting? The
current trend towards civic engagement would lend students to greater levels of political
efficacy. However, this is difficult to measure in the classroom. Our initial experiment
with students as poll workers demonstrated their experiences did indeed have a positive
affect on their views towards the election process and their roles as public servants.
Using an initial dataset of ten student poll workers, survey data were collected through a
distribution of pre and post surveys and thorough interviews. Students received a wide
variation in training to perform their tasks as election judges from training sessions to
distributed training manuals. Some students only received on-the-job training which may
have been reduced to logistical explanations. The data showed the experiences of the poll
workers were not only affected by their training (or lack thereof) but also were
significantly directed by their professional and educational training. For example they
were held accountable by their course expectations, their professional ethics and their
education. This allowed them to perform their required tasks well, but in addition it
affected their sense of civic responsibility and civic engagement in a positive direction
evidenced by their exit interviews.
In a time of intense scrutiny of our voting process and the role of election officials, these
findings are very important. The preliminary data suggest that election workers are
indeed held accountable even when there is variation among their formal bureaucratic
training. In our study students recognized the value of election officials and the
importance of their training from multiple of sources.


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