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Fostering a Context that Supports Academic Identity Development among African-American Children using immersive, online, 3D Environments in an After-school Setting Hey that’s me! Michael K. Thomas micthoma@indiana.edu The Problem (a) – Academic Identity

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michael k thomas micthoma@indiana edu

Fostering a Context that Supports Academic Identity Development among African-American Children using immersive, online, 3D Environments in an After-school Setting

Hey that’s me!

Michael K. Thomasmicthoma@indiana.edu

slide3

The Problem(a) – Academic Identity

  • African American Identity is disassociated with academic success
  • Among African Americans, African Identity is associated with “selling out” to White authority
slide4

The Problem(b) - The Bell to Bed Hours

  • Higher absenteeism from school – Poor homework quality
  • Poor academic performance
  • Low standardized test scores
  • Behavioral problems in school
  • Playing violent videogames and watching excessive amounts of television
  • Engaging in premature and often abusive sexual activity
  • Consuming alcohol- “latch-key” children are 1.7 times more likely to use alcohol
  • Smoking – “latch-key” children are 1.6 times more likely to smoke cigarettes
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Being injured in household accidents
  • Being injured or killed in an automobile accident
  • (Safe and Smart summary, 1998, pg. 4; Hours of Risk, pg.2; (Newman, Fox, Flynn & Christeson, 2000)
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Quest Atlantis

Quest Atlantis (QA) is the program I am observing and helping to designthat was initiated at the Boys & Girls Club here in Bloomington. This club currently serves approximately 265 children between the ages of 5 and 18. Inspired by the Fifth Dimension activity of Michael Cole (Cole 1996), QA is a program targeting seven key areas of children’s development. These areas are character development, agency and empowerment, diversity affirmation, identity formation, community involvement, academic engagement, and local/global responsibility. This is accomplished as children proceed though a series of “quests” that are themselves grounded in the myth and metaphor of Atlantis in a manner akin to adventure gaming. Of particular interest here is the area of identity formation and the extent that this construct may be nurtured to support academic engagement and development.

http://inkido.indiana.edu/atlantis

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Identity Construction Environments

Identity construction environments (ICEs) proposed by Bers at MIT (Bers, 2001) have been found to help children learn about their own identity and support participation in community. By using autobiographical narratives and object construction and manipulation in immersive 3D online environments, Bers (2001) was able to document growth in children’s notion of self and demonstrate character and moral development among these children.

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Research Questions

  • In what ways might technology be utilized to foster academic identity among African American children who may feel that academic engagement is antithetical to being African American?
  • How might this be achieved in an after-school setting in which academic engagement is not emphasized?
  • How identity expressed by children in online 3D environments?
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Methodology – Case Study

Naturalistic inquiry will be used to build data-driven (grounded) responses to the above research questions, as well as to identify other issues arising from the data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Because my emphasis is on capturing how Quest Atlantis is used in situ(Lave & Wenger, 1991) to support academic identity development among African American children, data collection efforts will focus on capturing data as it occurs in the environment. (Strauss & Corbin, 1994; Glasser & Strauss, 1967). Three case studies of children participating in QA will be undertaken to develop a general understanding of the research questions (Stake 1995).

  • Interviews
  • “Talking diaries”
  • Field observations,
  • Reflexive debriefing
  • Personal documentaries
  • Artifact analysis
questions discussion

Questions / Discussion

Michael K. Thomasmicthoma@indiana.edu