A Crisis in Civic Conscience in the United States? Knowledge and Understanding of the U.S. Bill of Rights among a Group of Undergraduate Students Citizens of the United States

Porter E Coggins, Janet A. Heuer, Michael A. Anderson


Three groups of undergraduate student citizens of the United States at a regional public university were surveyed regarding their knowledge of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. Additionally, the findings of a focus group discussion of Honors students regarding this same topic are presented and discussed. A fifteen-statement questionnaire was administered to 66 First Year Experience (FYE) undergraduate students, 50 senior students, and nine Honors students. Ten of the statements were quotes from the Bill of Rights amendments and five statements were foils which were not among the Bill of Rights amendments. A focus group discussion with the Honors students revealed several themes including those of rights and responsibility for educational curricula on the Bill of Rights. Analysis of the data indicated that these three groups did not present evidence of deep knowledge of the Bill of Rights by amendment number. We interpret the general lack of knowledge of the Bill of Rights as a warning regarding of the lack of value of the Bill of Rights and citizenship by state and federal governments and raise a concern of the possibility of a growing crisis in civic conscience of the citizenry of our country unless significant educational-policy countermeasures are taken. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjss.v7n1p12


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