Research Paper: The Use and Acknowledgement of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

Ellie Hegwood

English 1102 Weaver

Research Paper

30 April 2021

The Use and Acknowledgement of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

            The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement or NSLVE for short is a database that allows for Universities to have access to their data on their campuses voting tendencies and provided information to participating schools on political climate and student voting habits. As well, the service provides information on the engagement of college students in voting and their participation in democracy. The NSLVE is mentioned in the article, “Student Parent Voices Are Critical to Colleges Civic Engagement Plans” by Nicole Lynn Lewis in which she describes the benefits this data collection can have for keeping track and providing demographic data on student’s race, age, sex and area of study collected from free reports of voter turnout and voter registration data provided by the NSLVE to participating universities. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement is a valuable resource used by colleges across the country to raise awareness for voter turnout and democratic involvement as well as provide free statistical reports to campuses to allow for appropriate engagement of their student body in this attempt to answer the call for an increase in civic learning.

            The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement was launched in 2013 by Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. For this reason, Tufts University is regarded as the place to gather the most information on the process of NSLVE  and what it stands for. Being that the service is still under ten years old and highly centered around elections and voting data there is still a growing amount of information to be spread and gained through the NSLVE as well as there still being a significant lack of knowledge that this program even exists. To date there are one thousand two hundred participating campuses in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement program, with this including colleges from all fifty states. The involvement in this program is something colleges may be all too familiar with, even when the general public is still in the dark about it. The largest part of where the NSLVE comes from is the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, or IDHE, at Tisch College who is responsible for the awareness, information, and coordination of the NLVE. Providing guides to universities on how to be involved and even assisting in guiding colleges in their own self studies, IDHE has become the foundational place for all things political statistics when it comes to college students.

Apart from the statistical data on campus voting rates and registrations that NSLVE brings provides to universities such as Cornell University and Baylor University, IDHE at Tisch College also founded a program known as Politics 365 in which they study “qualitative research to examine the campus climates and institutional characteristics that lead some colleges and universities to have higher than expected political participation,” (Tisch College Website, Politics 365). A study done in 2017 by Nancy Thomas and Margaret Brower is one of the most informative pieces on what the qualitative study of a campuses political climate can look like and be attributed to as they narrowed it down to five characteristics from this study as being social cohesion, compositional diversity, social mobility and equal opportunity, pervasive habits of political discussion, and student political actions. The impacts of this study, the use of Politics 365, and the benefit of NSLVE all center back around on that of a campus’s interest in their student population regarding civic engagement. The focus of NSLVE is to provide information on voting rates including registration and voter turnout on college campuses as a way to evaluate the engagement in democracy, public policy, civic involvement, and social action in a targeted demographic of the population. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement accomplishes all of this while also maintaining a free and easy to use system and emphasizing the protection of student privacy.

The history and eventual founding of the NSLVE can be dated back to 2012 when the government, or more specifically the United States Department of Education issued a call to action as the call it for the advancement of education on civic involvement and the incorporation of experiences to spread a greater knowledge of ways to be involved in democracy and social action or change. An ironic twist to this road map laid out in 2012 can be seen in November of this past year where the statistics of the 2020 election show a surge in youth voter turnout, higher than it had ever been in previous years. Increasing from between 42% to 44% turnout for eighteen to twenty-nine year old Americans in 2016 to between 52% to 55% turnout for eighteen to twenty-nine years old’s in 2020 according to data from CIRCLE at Tufts College.

Whether this increase in youth voter turnout is linked to a call to action for civic learning or the effects of a global pandemic and a need for social action, there is one certified system that can be counted on to collect the data. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement works to provide what has become vital information in a time that is so desperate for social change. Working to record data and represent student political climates is a tool that can go unrecognized despite its usefulness. Focusing on change and education while protecting student privacy makes the NSLVE stand out, and are reasons why it is worth learning about and why it will continue to grow beyond the one thousand and two hundred schools and ten million students that it already supports.

Sydney Davis’s Academic Profile

Hi everyone, I would like to introduce you to my fiercely driven and incredible partner Sydney Davis. Working with Sydney in the last week or so has been such a calming process especially when having such an easy going and flexible partner.

Describing herself as a successful, motivated, and creative student, Sydney has come a long way from her days of procrastinating school work and minimizing academic importance. Following a traditionally normal academic path of grades beginning as a kindergartener at McLendon Elementary School and working her way up through Shamrock Middle School and eventually to Druid Hills High School where after completing twelfth grade she graduated with the goal of continuing her basketball career, thanks to a scholarship to Georgia State University. Originally only considering her venture to college as something she did “mostly because [she] got a basketball scholarship” she soon understood that her time there could be so much more.

Over the last year and a half at Georgia State Davis has changed her view on college and writes that she “continued to do college so that [she] could have a career. Now regarding college as a way for her to be successful it is no shock that being goal driven would be such an important motivating factor in Sydney’s academic life. As a Health Science major and hopes of becoming a nurse, Davis writes that her “biggest influence on her academic self is to be [successful] in her career,” clearly setting herself up to be shown as someone who is driven by her want to accomplish what she has set her mind to. Often describing her greatest influences to be those of motivation to achieve the certain goals she has set before herself and excel above and beyond what the standard before her was. Describing how she hopes that through her perceived academic achievements and future endeavors she could be a role model to her little brother, especially by being the first child in her family to graduate with a college degree, Sydney highlights herself as such an admirable and humble character in such an effortless way that makes us all want to have that same kind of grace and motivation.

Even though Sydney has mentioned the influence her mom has over her, she is not her greatest advisor in life. Davis describes life itself as her best mentor describing how she honestly does not have any mentors but instead saying, “I go off of life and what life has to teach me,” creating a phrase that is so simple yet holds so much truth. The go with the flow personality that I have experienced through interacting with Sydney is definitely an accurate reflection of these words. While Sydney remains peaceful and easy going, she has found that while taking English 1102 and US History the challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning have become proven pressure points for her in her college experience. Nevertheless, Sydney is proud of the academic self she presents to the world today as someone who is punctual and serious about the material she is learning and the work she is doing that will help set her on her career goal.

I really admire Sydney’s work ethic and patience through life and academically. It was an absolute joy to be able to connect with another student during this time even with the conditions we have been delt as a nation. This assignment goes to show that while in person contact will never be replaceable there is always still room to establish new relationships.