Adolescent Literacy, Identity and School (ALIAS): Investigating boundary spaces in literacy and learning
This paper focuses upon connecting adolescent literacies, learning and curriculum innovation in school. Firstly, the ALIAS project has set out to learn about adolescent literacies, identity constructions and school experiences in both Irish post-primary schools and alternative education settings (including Youthreach, special schools and other voluntary education settings). Secondly, the project intends to develop guidance for curricular interventions which may improve accord between the in-school and out-of-school literacies of adolescent students.
The central research questions focus upon how adolescents experience and construct their literacies through in-school, in-between school and out-of-school contexts as well as examining the construction of their learner identities. This sense of experiencing literacy and learning through in-between contexts is particularly relevant to this paper.
Culturally and socially situated, and implicated in learner identity, the ALIAS project understands literacy as a multiple, dynamic concept that transforms with the advancement of technology and the fluidity of culture. Therefore, the theoretical framework draws upon a number of constructs in order to frame the everyday intersections between adolescent lives, literacies and their learner identities: `positional identities¿ (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998); `funds of knowledge¿ (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992); `curriculum-in-the-making¿ (Roth, 2013). These theoretical constructs serves to illuminate the objectives of the inquiry.
Data were generated: through focus groups with twenty-four students from two post-primary schools through first year and second year; through two workshops and a questionnaire completion session; through site visits and interviews with ten teachers in alternative education settings.
This paper will discuss our findings in terms of literacy, learning and identity constructions amongst the participating adolescents and through the perspectives of the teachers in the alternative education settings. The focus here will be upon the borders, boundaries and in-between spaces of literacy, learning and identity. This paper is directed towards those with interests in adolescent literacy, curriculum design and learner identities.