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“Assessing the Effects of Voluntary Youth Service” by McAdam and Brandt

Summary of the Article

The article under consideration dwells upon the civic commitment of people who had TFA experience. The major question which the researchers try to answer is as follows: “do the subsequent service commitments of participants show significant effects of the TFA experience, net of other explanatory variables?” (McAdam & Brandt 965). The research is based on a survey. The study included individuals who were accepted from 1993 to 1998.

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Two thousand five hundred forty-one subjects responded to the inquiries. The subjects were divided into three groups: “graduates,” “dropouts,” and “non-matriculants” (McAdam & Brandt 949). The researchers found that graduates lagged behind the other two groups in their service activity or other forms of civic or political activity. The researchers also tried to explain the data obtained. They provided an analysis of possible factors that influenced former and prospective activists.

Analysis of the Introduction

It is important to note that the researchers provide a concise introduction where they overview and outline the problem discussed. They introduce the issue in a concise way. They also point out the significance of the issue discussed. Thus, they mention two US presidents’ attention to the civic activism of Americans. The researchers also note that the issue has already been discussed. Finally, McAdam & Brandt highlight the major focus of the study (946).

Use of Literature

As for the literature used, it is necessary to note that the researchers refer to works that focus on the same issue. Notably, the authors provide quite a detailed literature review where they overview the most important sources. McAdam & Brandt reveal the major findings of the most important sources and focus on their limitations (946). Importantly, the authors arrange the sources analyzed in a very concise way.

The researchers divide the sources into several groups. Each of these groups addresses one of the facets of the issue. Therefore, it is quite easy to trace the significance of the theories or sources discussed. Admittedly, the sources discussed are really significant for the research under consideration. The authors often address the limitations of the studies discussed to extract the most precise data for their own research.

Purpose Statement and Research Question

Remarkably, the article has a perfectly formulated purpose statement. The research question appears in several parts of the article, and this helps the reader to remain focused on the subject matter of the article. For instance, the objective of the study is highlighted in the Introduction, i.e., “understanding more about the social processes and factors that may be linked to, or productive of, increased civic engagement” (McAdam & Brandt 946). The research question also appears in the Results part. Thus, the researchers focus on the following questions:

Do such programs, in fact, have enduring effects on the subsequent civic attitudes and participation of those involved? And is it the case that all of these effects are positive? (McAdam & Brandt 951)

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The research questions and the major focus of the study are also revealed in the final part of the article Discussion and Conclusion. The researchers put it into simple terms and state that the major goal of the study was to find out whether participation in such programs as TFA can “make citizens” (McAdam & Brandt 966).


To draw their samples, the authors addressed 2,771 individuals who were accepted to TFA in the period from 1993 to 1998. Quite many participants (2,541) took part in the study. Nonetheless, the sample is not representative in terms of certain variables (social status or age). Thus, the researchers note that the participants of the study could not be analyzed in terms of certain variables. For instance, while race and gender could be taken into account, the social status of the participants could not be identified. Therefore, this variable could not be taken into account. There is one more limitation of the study, which was defined by the researchers.

The samples analyzed in the present study could not be generalized to all young people as the researchers focused on people who had experience at TFA. Admittedly, it could be more effective to analyze civic activities (and attitudes) of people who took up different projects and courses. Nevertheless, it is possible to point out that the researchers have quite representative samples which can be analyzed in term of several important variables. Still, there are certain limitations that can be addressed in further research.

Research Design

As far as a research design is concerned, it is possible to state that the researchers addressed the major points to disclose their topic. The authors analyzed current attitudes toward civic activities and current civic behaviors. They also analyzed the current service activities of participants. Analysis of these variables enabled the researchers to come to their conclusions concerning the influence of former experience on current civic positions.

Basically, the study is based on data obtained from questionnaires. There could be several flaws. In the first place, questionnaires sent to participants could contain the wrong questions, i.e., questions which led to certain biases. Thus, participants could misinterpret a question or answer it insincerely. Provided all the questions were clear, comprehensive, and they excluded any possibility of bias, there is one more major flaw. The researchers should have chosen people who had different experiences (not only TFA). Notably, the researchers commented upon this limitation of their study.


As far as the organization of the article is concerned, it is necessary to note that the article is concise and precise. All the arguments are provided in a logical and comprehensive way. The results of the study are provided in tables. This helps the reader to analyze the results obtained. It is also necessary to point out that the article’s outline is very clear and easy to follow. Headings help to remain focused and follow the researchers.

Notably, the authors comment upon the most important findings and provide their conclusions in a clear way. It is easy to follow the article. More so, the researchers provide reasonable conclusions that arise from the arguments suggested and findings analyzed throughout the article. However, it could be interesting to have a look at a sample of the questionnaire. The reader could make his/her own conclusion on the clearness and comprehensiveness of the questions asked.

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As has been stated above, the researchers provide the results of their research in a concise and comprehensive way. They comment upon one factor at a time. It is important to state that they provide logical interpretations of the results obtained. As far as I am concerned, I agree with the interpretation of the major findings. For instance, I agree that TFA could be one of the most potent factors that influenced the attitudes and current activities of participants of the research. I guess this is one of the major findings of the study, which can play a very important role in future research in this field. It is important to stress that the results are obtained to address the research question.


McAdam and Brandt draw a very important conclusion, i.e., TFA experience plays a significant role in the development of civic attitudes (966). This conclusion logically arises from the findings discussed throughout the article. Though it slightly contradicts the authors’ assumption that experience obtained in such projects as TFA positively influences the civic ‘consciousness’ of people, the study shows that such experiences shape civic behaviors in the future. The researchers also note that such influence can be somewhat negative, so certain changes should be undertaken in the field of education. Admittedly, the lack of current activists among TFA graduates is one of the major proofs justifying such a conclusion.

Overall Assessment

I believe the article provides a comprehensive analysis of data obtained from deep research. The major strengths of the article are comprehensiveness and clarity. In the first place, the sample analyzed is quite representative. Secondly, the researchers provide a cohesive narrative that enables the reader to come to precise conclusions. Remarkably, readers tend to agree with the researchers’ conclusions, which are logical. As for the article’s weaknesses, the article could benefit from a more precise outline of future perspectives in the field.

Nonetheless, the article under consideration provides very important insights into the development of people’s commitment to civic and political activities. The researchers prove that civic behaviors depend on the future civic experiences of young people. Admittedly, I will have this major finding in mind as this knowledge can help me in my academic life. For instance, civic behaviors can become a topic of my future research like this a very interesting issue to study. Besides, now I understand what can influence my own civic behaviors and attitudes.

Works Cited

McAdam, Doug and Cynthia Brandt. “Assessing the Effects of Voluntary Youth Service: The Case of Teach for America.” Social Forces 88.2 (2009): 945-970. Print.

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