Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Miranda, Wilma

Degree Name

M.S. Ed. (Master of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership and Educational Policy Studies


Identity (Psychology) in adolescence--Illinois; High school environment--Illinois--Psychological aspects; High school students--Illinois--Conduct of life; High school students--Illinois--Social conditions


The purpose of this study was to explore the writings of eighth graders as they speak for themselves and as they tell themselves and the reader who they are becoming. Adolescence is generally identified as the period of time between 12 and 19 years of age. According to most research, ages 10 to 15 often border on the chaotic. Drinking, drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen-age pregnancy, once prevalent only in high schools, now have infiltrated the lower grades. The sheer availability of substances and experiences makes for trouble, both for these children and society as a whole. Yet most research has been devoted to the adolescent "in general," encompassing all the teen years, from 12 to 19, as though this comprised a simple developmental stage. The focus of this study was on the relatively less studies period of early adolescence. What is the nature of a youngster's experience at the onset of adolescence? More importantly, how do youngsters at this age struggle to articulate and consolidate their identities as they locate themselves in a social context? The focus of this study is on the constructive role 12- to 15-year-olds play in the establishment of their own personal definitions. The emphasis is on their interpretation and the ways they negotiate and come to defend themselves. This narrative study analyzed the self-reflections of eighth-grade students, revealing — through analysis of writings — their feelings, thoughts, and desires about who they are. This thesis explored how a select group of eighth graders constructed and negotiated their social identities.


Includes bibliographical references (leaf [60]).


65 pages




Northern Illinois University

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