CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

CIRCLE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses, to study the effectiveness of educational programs designed to increase civic learning and engagement in democracy.  By participating, your institution will be joining hundreds of other colleges and universities as part of this innovative national research initiative.


Why NSLVE is important: In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Education issued a “call to action” challenging colleges and universities to support academic programs and experiences designed to increase student civic learning and engagement in democracy. Many campuses already support civic learning experiences such as community-based service, service learning, and research, academic programs in public policy and social entrepreneurship, and simulations (debate, Model UN).   Does engagement in these programs promote student participation in political and civic life?  Studying voting rates of students provides an important baseline that can lead to improvements in academic programs and co-curricular experiences.

Voting is by no means the only indicator of civic engagement, but it is fundamental. Prior to NSLVE, there were no reliable estimates of student voting rates on individual campuses. NSLVE fills that gap.

How NSLVE works: Whether an individual registers to vote and votes is a matter of public record. (How an individual votes is not.)  We’re working with an organization that collects state and local records into one national database that is widely used for academic research. We’ve developed a secure, confidential system for matching your enrollment lists with public records to obtain voting rates for your student body and any specified subgroups.  This is not a survey, and you do not have to share with us your enrollment lists. CIRCLE will never see individual students’ names. For specifics, please read our FAQ.

Participating in NSLVE: If you sign up this year you will receive  your 2012 and 2014 registration and voting rates! Signing up is free and easy. Simply download the authorization form, have it signed by a president, vice president, provost, chief enrollment officer or director of institutional research, and send the scanned form to

Campus Reports: Each campus receives a confidential report that contains valuable data, including the number of students eligible to vote and the actual number of students who registered to vote and who voted.  The reports also correlate voting with other data such as class level, field of study, and, if supplied by an institution, race/ethnicity and gender.  Prior to NSLVE, campuses had no way of learning these data, important indicators of student civic engagement.  To learn more about Campus Reports, click here!

You can also read about NSLVE in the January 2013 Association for Institutional Research newsletter.

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