Deliberating Public Policy Issues with Adolescents: Classroom Dynamics and Sociocultural Considerations

Margaret Crocco (Michigan State University), Avner Segall (Michigan State University),  Anne-Lise Halvorsen (Michigan State University), Rebecca Jacobsen (Michigan State University)


Classroom discussion and deliberation have been widely touted in the research literature as a centerpiece of high quality civic education. Empirical studies, however, of such processes are relatively few. In a public policy deliberation on immigration conducted in three Midwestern high schools during the academic year 2015–16, the authors found that analysis of a set of deliberations on the subject of immigration policy in the United States reveals the ways in which sociocultural identity aspects of the settings and participants influenced the processes and dynamics of these classroom events. Reflecting upon this analysis suggests a set of factors that reveal the degree to which classroom deliberations are shaped by factors other than rational consideration of the topic.