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

  • Author / Creator
    Brooke, Auralia
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.