Civic Participation and Skills
Democratic government is enhanced when individuals exercise the skills to participate effectively in civic affairs.
3. Issues can be analyzed through the critical use of information from public records, surveys, research data and policy positions of advocacy groups.
Researching a civic issue involves determining which sources of information are relevant to the task, identifying the perspective or position of each source and evaluating the credibility of the sources.
Public records can include sources such county tax records, a report issued by a state agency or the Congressional Record.
Surveys of public opinion could be conducted by students or could come from major polling organizations. Surveys also could consist of data collections pertaining to a public issue (e.g., a survey of waterway contamination resulting from the runoff of snow removal chemicals).
Research data comes in many forms and may originate with organizations ranging from universities to research institutes. Research into local issues can be conducted by students.
Advocacy groups (interest groups, lobbies) produce literature and maintain websites that outline their positions on public policy issues.
Considerations involved with determining the credibility of sources include:
- The qualifications/reputation of the writer and/or organization;
- The circumstances in which the source material was generated;
- Internal consistency and agreement with other credible sources;
- Use of supporting evidence and logical conclusions; and
- Evidence of bias or unstated assumptions.
Expectations for Learning
Prepare a collection of documents pertaining to a civic issue that contains examples from at least two distinct information types (e.g., public records, surveys, research data, policy positions of advocacy groups), explain how each source is relevant, describe the perspective or position of each source and evaluate the credibility of each source.