I have, for a while, recognised that identity is linked to motivation, confidence and feelings of legitimacy. Many young adults report the feeling of being a child in an adults body, frequently into their late 20s or early 30s. If this feeling of becoming a “legitimate” adult is occurring at later ages than previous generations, I would guess it may be due to certain common life goals, such as marriage, becoming a parent and home ownership being postponed due to changes in the economy and other social forces. I have learnt from self-improvement books that one of the keys to achieving goals and becoming the person you aim to be is to “pretend” and mimic that identity. This has the effect on the mind of, over time, convincing itself that the new identity is legitimate. The below youtube video, while targeting a male audience, explains the concept.
My first reading, “Academic Identities and Communities of Practice in a Professional Discipline“, made me think more deeply about how learner identity is formed. I had not considered how the perceptions and expectations of others can influence learner identity. Jawitz (2009) states that identities within a community are in a constant state of “renegotiation” dependant upon the forms of participation individuals choose to take part in. This means that identity is not only formed by the individual but also by others with whom they interact with. Does this mean that a lack of community may also hinder the development of a healthy learner identity in some individuals?
Online forms of education are continuing to grow. This is bringing to light the sense of disconnection students are often experiencing due to physical and psychological separation from teachers, peers and institutions (Rovai, 2002). It has also been shown that positive perceptions of connectedness by students undertaking online courses correlate to higher probabilities of course completion (Bolliger & Inan, 2012). I know for myself, a feeling of connectedness and support from a teacher is important for my own motivation and identity as a good student. As a teacher I will strive to become more aware of my influence upon students’ identities and how my interactions with them can help develop and validate them positively.
Bolliger, D. & Inan, F. (2012). Development and Validation of the Online Student Connectedness Survey (OSCS). The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 13(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1171/2206
Jawitz, J. (2009). Academic identities and communities of practice in a professional discipline. Teaching In Higher Education, 14(3), 241-251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562510902898817
Rovai, A. (2002). Development of an instrument to measure classroom community. The Internet And Higher Education, 5(3), 197-211. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1096-7516(02)00102-1