Critically Reviewing the Research Essay

Submitted By dokimas
Words: 975
Pages: 4

OPIC: Focus on Erikson: Industry vs. Inferiority / Identity development in middle school
QUESTION: During the stage in psycho-development which Erik Erikson describes as the Identity vs Role Confusion, adolescents struggle with identity and their role in society and peer groups. At the same time, historically, girls struggle to embrace certain subjects, such as math and science. Can an educator encourage adolescent girls to eagerly explore science and/or math while allowing them to use their individual talents, knowledge of the world or interests to grasp the subject while allowing and stimulating their individualism, identity development, confidence in self and confidence in their society? The article, Creating Hybrid Spaces for Engaging School Science Among Urban Middle School Girls (Barton, Tan, & Rivet, 2008), questions the feasibility of increasing urban middle school girls’ participation, interest and performance in the area of science by creating a more innovative learning environment called a “hybrid space” (Barton, et al., 2008), a learning space in which the school space and home space merge. Within hybrid spaces, the subject matter and individual girls’ socio-cultural knowledge are combined and thereby provide an opportunity extending beyond grasping subject concept to opportunities for leadership roles, strengthening subjects’ identities and the respect of and acceptance by peers. The participants were selected from six classes within three New York City area middle schools with similar demographics and all listed as “failing” and open to reform. A total of twenty predominantly low income, African American and Hispanic girls were included in the study. The method employed for addressing the question involved ethnographic case studies during the 2003-2005 school years. Through natural observation, data was collected, concentrating on detailed description of the subjects’ science practices, how subjects improved their science practices, the subjects’ learning of concepts taught in the “reform minded curriculum” (Barton et al., 2008), and, finally, how the subjects’ incorporation of their individual real-world experiences and interests influenced participation, performance, self-identity and peer acceptance. The findings indicate that hybrid spaces offer students the “chance to shed the identity of a powerless novice and take on, to a larger degree, an identity of expert or leader” (Barton et al., 2008). Within the case studies demonstrating the students’ empowering experience of this merging, the findings indicate that it is important and viable to nurture individuals’ behaviors, abilities, life experiences and cultural experiences with the learning practices of science; it demonstrated a greater participation and performance in school science classes and an increased position of acceptance, if not leadership, within peer groups. Although a different, limited population was selected for the study, the findings affirmatively answer the question presented at the beginning of this paper. The practice of allowing middle school girls to elaborate on a subject with her own style, based on her own social experiences and skills (ie, music, art, social context, role playing, leadership, etc) in a less restrictive teaching environment encourages the developing girl to “merge their in- and out-of-school identities” (Barton, et al., 2008), create a strong self identity, and receive acceptance by and respect of peers, while encouraging them to embrace subjects within areas in which they previously had demonstrated limited understanding interest, participation and performance. The study closely relates and is similar to the question posed in that it discusses the need to increase participation and performance by girls in science subjects. By directing existing behaviors and personality traits, incorporating visual, musical and theatrical arts as well as student reporting and leadership, the study…