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Unpacking Secondary School Students’ Identity Negotiations Regarding Science and Engineering: A Case Study in the United States

Roxanne Hughes, Kristen Molyneaux


Science researchers argue that students’ science and engineering (SE) identity can be improved if they are exposed to scientists and engineers and participate in real world applications within these SE fields (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Carlone & Johnson, 2007; Painter et al., 2006; Polman & Miller, 2010). This type of exposure is particularly important for women and minorities because they are currently underrepresented within these fields and are not often exposed to role models. This study addresses the issues related to the SE identity negotiations of girls and racial minorities through a comparative case study, wherein three adolescent students’ SE identity trajectories are studied. This study shows the complexity of how students can develop their SE identity both socially and individually. In particular, it highlights how these social and individual interactions occur on a personal level and can shift due to small interventions and particular interactions. This study also adds to current identity frameworks by using them in informal SE education settings where they have not been used before.


identity; case study; informal science education; gender; science and engineering

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