The X Factor: Investigating the effectiveness of out-of-school learning in preparing young people to vote.

Project Details


In 2014, the voting age in Scotland was lowered to 16, which in turn prompted renewed interest in preparing young people for electoral participation as politically literate citizens. The contemporary education policy and practice landscape in Scotland is characterised by the ascribed role of schools in delivering education for citizenship. However, the focus on classroom teaching as the primary arena for political education can deflect attention from other out-of-school informal and non-formal learning: such as learning amongst family, from peers and via social media platforms, through community-based youth organisations and political groups. Generally, there is a lack of understanding of the impact of out-of-school learning in preparing young people for active and meaningful engagement with the political domain. It is this gap in knowledge that our research project sets out to investigate.
We are undertaking a small-scale study to examine the sources and impact of out-of-school learning in preparing young people to vote. Our study is informed by the interrelated influence of political socialisation, political literacy and political efficacy on young people’s motivation to engage in democratic activity. The data will help develop a deeper understanding of young people’s wider learning and how this has shaped their knowledge, aspirations and political actions as first-time voters. In recent years, there has been broad public interest in the reasons why eligible young people choose not to vote. A key objective of our study is to examine and learn from the experiences of those young people who have voted. Through this deliberate focus, we hope to uncover new knowledge that can inform and improve future educational practice geared towards enhancing youth political participation.
During 2023 we conducted interviews with young people, for this latest stage of our project we are inviting young people to respond to a short online survey. For more information, please contact the research team.
Short titleThe X Factor
Effective start/end date6/10/2231/12/24


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.