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pp. 453-475 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.254a | Article Number: ijese.2015.007
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 595 | Article Download: 424
In this exploratory case study, I investigated the ways that youth engaged in negotiating their identity during learning conversations at an informal science education camp. In particular, I was interested in exploring the ways that youth positioned themselves within their learning group and how this influenced their identities as learners of science. The research question that guided the investigation was: What is the role of learning conversations in influencing youths’ identities as learners of science during an informal science education camp? In particular, I was interested in elucidating the ways in which youth socially constructed their identities relative to others in their learning group and how the social context shaped this process. Identity in this study was defined as the socially constructed sense of self derived from one’s position relative to others in a social group. Data collection included videotaped observations, field notes, interviews and journal entries. Findings from my analysis and interpretation of the data collected suggested that identity developed in the following ways: (a) members of the learning group derived their sense of self and identity from their perceived position relative to others and (b) power dynamics and social roles within the learning group were negotiated and redefined within the specific affordances and norms of the informal science education camp context. These findings lend support to the assertion that identity develops during learning conversations in informal science education settings and adds to the corpus of research in this area.
Keywords: informal science education, out-of-school learning, environmental education, science camps, identity development, learning conversations
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