Student school elections and political engagement: A cradle of democracy?

Lawrence J. Saha*, Murray Print

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Studies have found that prior involvement in student politics while in school seems to be a good predictor of adult political engagement. While most studies of adults have obtained retrospective data on participation in school elections, there have been few studies of students about this activity. We contribute to this latter relatively unexplored area by reporting the results from a national survey of Australian secondary school students about the relationship between participation in school elections and future intended political engagement activities. We found that voting in school elections is positively related to feeling prepared to vote as an adult, to being committed to vote when 18, to political knowledge, and to engagement in forms of peaceful activism. Running for student government office is related to political knowledge and participation in peaceful activism. These results reinforce the findings of adult retrospective studies, and show that participation in school elections serves as a beneficial experience in the preparation of students for life as an active adult citizen. The implications of these findings for the structure and conduct of student elections in schools are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-32
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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