ERIC Number: EJ1064534
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 77
"Unthinkable" Selves: Identity Boundary Work in a Summer Field Ecology Enrichment Program for Diverse Youth
Carlone, Heidi B.; Huffling, Lacey D.; Tomasek, Terry; Hegedus, Tess A.; Matthews, Catherine E.; Allen, Melony H.; Ash, Mary C.
International Journal of Science Education, v37 n10 p1524-1546 2015
The historical under-representation of diverse youth in environmental science education is inextricably connected to access and identity-related issues. Many diverse youth with limited previous experience to the outdoors as a source for learning and/or leisure may consider environmental science as "unthinkable." This is an ethnographic study of 16 diverse high school youths' participation, none of who initially fashioned themselves as "outdoorsy" or "animal people," in a four-week summer enrichment program focused on herpetology (study of reptiles and amphibians). To function as "good" participants, youth acted in ways that placed them well outside their comfort zones, which we labeled as identity boundary work. Results highlight the following cultural tools, norms, and practices that enabled youths' identity boundary work: (1) boundary objects (tools regularly used in the program that facilitated youths' engagement with animals and nature and helped them work through fear or discomfort); (2) time and space (responsive, to enable adaptation to new environments, organisms, and scientific field techniques); (3) social support and collective agency; and (4) scientific and anecdotal knowledge and skills. Findings suggest challenges to commonly held beliefs about equitable pedagogy, which assumes that scientific practices must be thinkable and/or relevant "before" youth engage meaningfully. Further, findings illustrate the ways that fear, in small doses and handled with empathy, may become a resource for youths' connections to animals, nature, and science. Finally, we propose that youths' situated identity boundary work in the program may have the potential to spark more sustained identity work, given additional experiences and support.
Descriptors: Summer Programs, Enrichment Activities, Student Diversity, Environmental Education, Science Education, Animals, Learner Engagement, Disproportionate Representation, Youth, Minority Groups, Self Concept, Access to Education, Ethnography, Scientific Research, Teaching Methods, Educational Experience, Outdoor Education, Correlation, Informal Education, Social Support Groups, Equal Education, Program Descriptions
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: ISE 1114558