Identity of work experience students

Donaway, Florence (1986) Identity of work experience students. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This research reports on the identity of a particular group of students in the regular school milieu - those who have been classified as special education students and placed in a senior special education class called Work Experience. The concept of identity is approached within a sociological context and the theoretical and methodological framework which informs the study derives from the symbolic interactionist approach. -- The overriding research problem is the issue of identity as revealed in the students’ own accounts as well as the implications of schooling on the social construction of identities. Data on which the research is based were taken from the responses of two groups of work experience students - one group composed of students currently in school in a work experience program and a second composed of former work experience students. Student observations were collected by means of questionnaires and interviews. Data collected were analyzed with the aim of pinpointing patterns with respect to similarities and differences in the experiences and identities of these students and with a commitment to student definitions, meanings and perspectives. -- While there was a diversity of viewpoints and attitudes in the comments of the two groups of work experience students, the underlying connecting theme identified was the positive fashion in which these individuals were able to define themselves. This self-definition is in spite of the negative connotations surrounding the position they occupy in school and the low-level occupational identities assumed outside school. -- The importance of status passages for the development and maintenance of identity was raised by these two groups of students. The in-school students expressed their concern for regularized movement through grades and levels and through special education classes. The former students raised the elements of age and time as important factors influencing their decision to end student careers and make the transition to an identity in a working career. -- The importance of significant others in the lives and identities of these two groups of students was brought out. Parents and friends were seen as influential in sustaining and reinforcing the identities they held. -- Regarding orientation to school the attitudes of the in-school students were more positive than those of former students. Placement in a work experience class was not seen by them as a shattering stigma or classification. The way they accommodated and rationalized negative situated identities enabled them to maintain positive identities for themselves as regular school students. Internalization of self-identities was in some sense not related to their place in the school structure. For former students school had a lack of impact. They were more satisfied in their identities as wage earners even though their work was sporadic with low pay and interspersed with periods of unemployment. -- The major difference between the two groups was seen in their projected future identities. The in-school students expressed their desire to finish school and go on to further education. The former students were satisfied with their current circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5054
Item ID: 5054
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 141-144.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1986
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Symbolic interactionism; Identity (Psychology); Vocational education--Social aspects; Slow learning children--Newfoundland and Labrador--Attitude

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