Social Identity

Submitted by Andrea Cox

Chapter 13:  The Self-System and Motivation

 

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Social Identity

Social identity is when a person develops a sense of self based on belonging to a particular group.  Henri Tajfel’s proposed that the groups a person has attached themselves to are an important source of pride and self-esteem (McLeod, 2008).  Because people have a tendency to group things together, Tajfel believed that stereotyping is based on a normal cognitive process.  Tajfels’ social identity theory begins with categorization, moves into social identification and then into social comparison (McLeod, 2008).

Gender & Ethnic Identity

Two aspect of social identity are gender and ethnicity.  Gender identity is being able to distinguish between the male and female gender in one-self and others (Bergin & Bergin, 2012).  Ethnic identity is when ones self-concept has been developed by a sense of belonging to an ethnic group.  Infants a few months old are able to label faces by gender and distinguish faces from their own race (Bergin & Bergin, 2012).  As children develop they then can gain an understanding that some groups may be stigmatized.  There are at least three factors that depend on whether children perceive discrimination:  1.) social cognitive ability, 2.) obviousness of discrimination and 3.) personal vigilance toward discrimination (Bergin & Bergin, 2012)

Promoting positive self-identity is important so that students do not feel alienated or devalued.  The following is a list of ways to promote positive self-identity (Bergin & Bergin, 2012): 

  1. Use multicultural curriculum.
  2. Help each student fell valued in the classroom.
  3. Hold all students to high, but reasonable standards.
  4. Be self-reflective.

Incorporating writing, interactive, recreational and community service activities lessons can promote the development of self-identity (Renata, 2011).  One way these activities can be implemented is by students working cooperative groups.  Cooperative learning groups can increase student achievement and self-concept (Zisk, 1998).

Self-concept and social identity can play a major role in student’s success in the classroom.  Self-concepts can affect how students perform in the classroom and are directly linked to motivation.  Teachers need to provide opportunities for students to develop a more positive self-concept in order to increase the likelihood of student success.

 

References:

Bergin, C. A., & Bergin, D. A. (2012). Information Processing, Memory and Problem Solving. Child and

             adolescent development in your classroom (pp. 127 – 148). Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. 

McLeod, S. (2008). Social Identity Theory. – Simply Psychology. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from           

            http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html 

Renata, R. (2011, March 6). Identity Development Activities | eHow. eHow. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from

            http://www.ehow.com/info_8025600_identity-development-activities.html 

 Zisk, J. (1998). The Effects Of Cooperative Learning On Academic Self-Concept And Achievement Of Secondary Chemistry

            Students. The Effects Of Cooperative Learning On Academic Self-Concept And Achievement Of Secondary Chemistry

            Students. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://sciteched.org/research/Dis.htm

 

 Discussion Questions:

 1.  Have you ever found yourself calling on one gender more often?  How do you prevent yourself from calling on all boys or girls during a class discussion?

 2. Discuss a time how you handled a situation with a student(s) that was the result of cultural differences.

 3. Discuss at least two activities that you use with students to promote positive self-identity.

 4. Discuss at least two strategies that you use to communicate with students that you value them as individuals.

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7 Responses to Social Identity

  1. Michelle Peterson says:

    Question: Have you ever found yourself calling on one gender more often? How do you prevent yourself from calling on all boys or girls during a class discussion?

    In my classroom I have significantly more boys than girls. Since my room is a special education classroom, I have students coming and going throughout different times of the day. Inevitably, I end up with four or five boys in my room, and two girls at most points of the day.

    I try to call on each student at throughout the course of an activity or during their time in my classroom. Although I do have more boys than girls in my room, I have never really thought about the divide. If I see myself calling on just one gender or the other, I immediately stop. I try to structure my activities and lessons to appeal to both genders, regardless of the subject. After reading this question, I will be paying more attention to make sure I am not calling specifically on one gender or the other more often.

  2. Sinclair says:

    4. Discuss at least two strategies that you use to communicate with students that you value them as individuals.
    I always use positive listening techniques, even when I am stressed or hurried. I make eye contact, do not respond until they are finished (or pause for air if long winded) and always acknowledge in some way what they have said, even if it is rambling and not pertinent. Secondly, I try to use what they have said as a tie to whatever the next topic is so that they have a sense of contribution to the curriculum, even if they have missed the point. I remember well the teachers that minimalized my so-called contributions to class and how it made me reluctant to participate later.

  3. anonymous50 says:

    1. Have you ever found yourself calling on one gender more often? How do you prevent yourself from calling on all boys or girls during a class discussion?

    My G/T English classes are generally smaller (10 – 18 students), so including everyone (regardless of gender, interest, or ability) might seem a fairly straightforward task; however, doing so does still require deliberate and conscious strategies that I have developed over the years and which vary depending upon the activity. If we are grading a grammar or vocabulary homework assignment, for instance, I might start at a specific point in the room and follow a pattern or equation (which I will change from day to day, just to keep it fresh and unpredictable) to include everyone equally. The only reason one gender is ‘called on’ more often than another in that case is determined by the demographics of the class, not bias. (As a side note, using varying patterns to call on the students not only ensures fairness, but also engages these bright kids, as they enjoy trying to figure out the equation for who will be next.)

    If we are discussing literature during a Socratic Seminar, then the ‘paper clip method’ guarantees that everyone, again, has an equal amount of speaking time. During other literary or writing discussions, which are often more spontaneous, I’ve found that I must keep a mental tally of who has spoken and/or which side of the room or row seems to be participating more often, and I will use proximity and eye contact to draw out the reluctant students, then reinforce their participation with (appropriate) praise, elaboration, or connection to another student’s comments or a follow-up question. Again, this is more easily facilitated in a class of fewer than 20 students. I know, however, that there are some topics or themes for which various students (boys or girls) and I may sometimes share a particular affinity, and in those circumstances, I have to recognize that, while I share their enthusiasm for the topic, I must include everyone. I’ve even been known to engage the students themselves in helping me keep track of who ‘needs a turn’, a responsibility they seem to relish and which diminishes any gender bias that might exist, on their part or mine, as we’re all ‘keeping each other honest’.

  4. Jimmie Jo says:

    Discuss at least two activities that you use with students to promote positive self-identity.

    *One activity that I use with my students to promote positive self-identity is to read the book “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont. I have my students brainstorm things that they like about themselves. The students will then write a book about the things that they like about themselves.

    *A 2nd activity that I do focuses in on unique things they “can” do. We make “I can” cans (soup cans). The students list things they can do on little slips of paper and put it in their can. They then work with a partner to compare and contrast the things they can do.

  5. Leslie says:

    4. Discuss at least two strategies that you use to communicate with students that you value them as individuals.

    I think this is so important because it helps build the bond needed for students to feel comfortable and be the best learner they can be. Every morning, I stand at the door and greet each student. I ask them how they are today and I give them time to tell me anything they want. When a student needs something, I give them my complete attention even if it is not a good time and I am busy. I am constantly pointing out the great qualities in my students and I either write notes to their parents or make a phone call to brag on them. Outside of school, I make every attempt to go to my students football games, soccer games, gymnastics competitions and baseball games. My students think it is the greatest think to see me outside of school. It shows them that I care about them as a person.

  6. khshwb Karen says:

    4. Discuss at least two strategies that you use to communicate with students that you value them as individuals.

    Like many of the others who have commented on this question I really try to give my undivided attention to students when they are talking to me. I also try to talk with them about their lives, not just about their school lives, but the rest of their lives. I love hearing about their families and what they are doing throughout the week. I think that fact that I not only listen, but show a genuine interest in them shows them that I care about them on an individual level and not just as a student. I also make every effort to attend events that they are participating in inside and outside of school. For the students that I know participate in sports outside of school I ask for their schedule at the beginning of the season and make an attempt to attend at least one of their games. I also attend most of our school athletics and band performances. During these activities I try to speak with any family that this there and specifically tell them why I enjoy having their child in my class. Making the effort and connecting with their families I think is really important to helping students realize that I value them as an individual.

  7. Autumn says:

    1. Have you ever found yourself calling on one gender more often? How do you prevent yourself from calling on all boys or girls during a class discussion?

    During my practicum, my mentor teacher was accused by a parent of allowing girls to participate in class discussions more frequently than boys. A series of veiled threats followed, and ultimately, the instructor in question had to meet with both her superiors and the parent who lodged the complaint. Although no formal action was taken against the educator, a record of the occurrence was placed in her (the teacher’s) file. I found this to be the one of most egregious and demeaning assaults on an individual’s professional character that I have ever witnessed. The charge was made in bad faith, and based on a series of spurious claims and unfair imputations. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a profound sense of distrust and fractured relationships throughout the school.

    In assessing the unfortunate aftermath of this episode, I decided that I would always use sticks (with the students’ names printed on them). It is regrettable, in a sense, as I did not initially use this strategy to promote fairness, but rather as a preemptive measure against unwarranted reproach. However, equity has, fortunately, been a welcome corollary. Additionally, this method ensures (well, ALMOST ensures) that the students will pay attention at any given time.

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