request. This chapter is structured around the discussion of the three topics. All the indicators suggested are shown in Table 6-1.

TABLE 6-1 Indicators Suggested for Lifelong, Informal Learning


•   Practices such as voting, boycotting, supporting a political party or candidate

•   Quantity and equality of engagement in such practices as volunteering, attending public meetings, working to address community problems, and making charitable donations

•   Quantity and quality of political and civic news consumption

•   Quality and quantity of engagement with diverse views on civic and political issues

•   Opportunities to learn content related to civic and political life


•   Access to media, beginning with measures of household spending on or ownership of media devices and sources

•   Media exposure that captures the nature of the content being consumed


•   Engagement in learning opportunities outside of formal schooling, perhaps using surveys administered after learning experiences


Joseph Kahne focused on indicators of political and civic engagement. For him, these two distinct but overlapping types of engagement are among the most important outcomes of education, and he expressed concern that they are in decline. Quoting former president of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, he cautioned that “the death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination by ambush, it will be the slow extinction from apathy, indifference and undernourishment.” To demonstrate this risk, he displayed data collected through a supplement to the U.S. Census showing disparities in the participation of U.S. adults aged 25 and older27: in 2008, 74 percent of adults with a college degree voted, 53 percent of those with a high school degree voted, and 31 percent of those with neither degree did so. Rates of voluntarism show the same pattern: 42 percent of college graduates volunteered that year, while just 18 percent of those with a high school degree and 9 percent of those with neither degree did so.

Kahne suggested including an indicator of political engagement statistics on such practices as voting, communicating with public officials, boycotting, attending meetings where political issues are discussed, and showing support for a political party or candidate. The indicator might distinguish among being “highly engaged,” “engaged,” and “disengaged,” or indicators could be created for particular acts, such as voting.


27For more details, see

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