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Learning Between the Lines: Non-formal Learning and Citizenship Identity Formation in Schools Open Access


Other title
Non-formal Learning
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Brooke, Auralia
Supervisor and department
Lynette Shultz, Educational Policy Studies
Examining committee member and department
Carla Peck, Secondary Education
Ali Abdi, Educational Policy Studies
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
Educational institutions play a key role in how students build citizenship identity. Goals for citizenship education in Alberta are broad, with curricular applications being limited largely to students’ basic knowledge of democratic systems. At present, there are few policies in place to support specific learning outcomes in terms of participation, personal relations, and civic identity, and there is no clear evaluation process to assess the kinds of citizenship understandings produced. As a result, the process of non-formal citizenship identity building within schools is not well understood. Despite a growing awareness that much important citizenship learning happens through students’ non-formal experiences at school, most academic research in this area focuses on the outcomes of either citizenship curriculum or school citizenship programs. This study explores the ways in which students’ capacities and orientations toward notions of justice-oriented citizenship as defined by Westheimer and Kahne (2004) are influenced by their non-formal learning experiences in school. Qualitative methods were used to engage with students’ understandings of citizenship, democracy, and non-formal learning. Results revealed that students’ non-formal experiences with school structure, hierarchy, and assessment modes often perpetuate feelings of isolation, structural disenfranchisement, and powerlessness. However, in cases where students were able to see themselves as positive influences in their school community, activate their voice, or help others, they began to build citizenship identities that were democratic and valued dialogue, diversity, and a culture of empathy as key components of a healthy democratic community.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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