Middle School Students’ Political Interest, Efficacy, and Commitment to Future Participation during Game Play

Veronica Isabella Szczygiel, Fordham University


Individuals ages 18–29 are the least participatory adult age group in terms of voting and other traditional political activities (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement [CIRCLE], 2013; CIRCLE, 2016; CIRCLE, 2019a; Prior & Bougher, 2018; Torney-Purta, 2002; United States Census Bureau, 2014). Research has shown that classroom games and simulations can increase political interest and political efficacy, which have been positively linked to students’ commitment to future political participation (Bernstein, 2008; Darr & Cohen, 2016; Fliter, 2009; Gehlbach et. al., 2008; Kahne et. al., 2006; Kalaf-Hughes & Mills, 2016; Lightcap, 2009; Lo, 2015; Mariani & Glenn, 2014; Neys & Jansz, 2010; Saiya, 2016; Shellman & Turan, 2006). However, research has mainly used undergraduate and high school students as participants, despite that middle school-aged adolescents have been found to show capacity for understanding political issues and comfort with games, as they make up the majority of video game players (Blumberg et. al., 2013; Blumberg et. al., 2019; Lin, 2013; Patterson et. al., 2019; Torney-Purta, 2002; Quintelier & Hooghe, 2013). This study examined how a non-digital simulation game impacted middle school students’ political interest, political efficacy, and commitment to future political participation. Pre- and post-game surveys and daily experience sampling methods data showed that game play resulted in a significant, negative change in all three variables. However, results also showed that students experienced a heightened awareness of political impact, a deep commitment to voting in particular, and a perception that politics is a stressful environment.

Subject Area

Education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Szczygiel, Veronica Isabella, "Middle School Students’ Political Interest, Efficacy, and Commitment to Future Participation during Game Play" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27671382.