Exploring possibilities: young children’s notions of identity within an implemented community building unit

Open Access
D'Arcy, Genevieve Suzanne
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 29, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Murry R Nelson, Committee Chair
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Committee Member
  • Fred Michael Schied, Committee Member
  • James Levin, Committee Member
  • social studies
  • elementary education
  • identity
This dissertation presents an exploratory case study conducted by an elementary teacher interested in ways curriculum and instruction can facilitate student identity development. The researcher was a participant observer within a primary classroom of 16 students, 5-8 years old, during an implementation of a language arts/social studies community-building unit. Attention was given to the dimensions of identity addressed, the manner in which students were guided to reflect on self, and the vehicles provided for self-presentation. Informed by classroom observations, document analysis, and interviews this research builds upon one teacher’s praxis, along with her students’ interactions with the curriculum, to consider possibilities for the construction and implementation of learning experiences that support teachers actively engaging students in explorations of identity. This inquiry led to the proposal of a model for identity curricula that includes a study of balancing identity processes: uniqueness with living in community, continuity with growth and change, and reflexivity with agency.