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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Making Matters: Teaching and Learning Literacies and Identities in Urban Schools

  • Author(s): Norris, Aaminah Muhammad
  • Advisor(s): Mahiri, Jabari
  • et al.

This qualitative study conducted over a 14-month period examined how teachers and students' identities influenced their learning and implementation of design thinking processes in conjunction with their technology use in urban classrooms. Design thinking is a learning approach through which students engage in hands-on project-based activities that solve complex problems (Carrol, et al., 2010). This research was an examination of teachers' professional development with design thinking principles to understand 1) how teachers' identities influenced their learning to use tools afforded in training, and 2) how teachers' took up the use of digital technologies in classroom practice. Additionally, this work examined 1) how access to technologies influenced 60 predominately Latino/a and African American students' identities and 2) how it also influenced these students' developing new and critical literacies. Findings revealed how teachers' identities differentially affected their learning of design thinking principles and how they facilitated the use of technologies in their classrooms. This work also revealed that students transformed negative self-perceptions by designing digitally mediated projects that facilitated the development of more positive identities. Finally, this work found that students' developing new and critical literacies were influenced by their lived experiences because students evidenced a predilection for making digitally mediated projects that relevantly connected to their personal lives. Implications of this work are that both teachers and students' identities play integral roles in how they learn and utilize principles of design thinking as well as digital technologies such that identity connections need to be much more central to the processes of learning for both teachers and students.

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