Alice Harnischfeger

Alice Harnischfeger


The title of speech for school:

Exploring Alternatively-placed Youths’ Understanding of Selves and Sociocultural Practices
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Exploring Alternatively-placed Youths’ Understanding of Selves and Sociocultural Practices

Download (PDF; 467 KB)

Margaret Warner School of Education, 2781 St. Paul Boulevard, Rochester, New York 14617, USA

I wish to be placed in consideration for attending the first ISCAR International Summer School for Graduate Students. I am a female, fourth year, PhD student at the University of Rochester’s Margaret Warner School of Education, in New York State, USA. I am presently completing my doctorate research under the advisement of Dr. Nancy Ares – Associate Professor, and receive graduate assistantship aide, but no additional funding towards my dissertation work.

Within my Ph.D. research process, I am in the writing stage of my dissertation proposal, and will defend this work in May, of this year. My proposed study is entitled “Doing School: Exploring Alternatively Placed Youths’ Understandings of Selves as Learners,” and will utilize a qualitative, ethnographic-type design to examine the identity construction process of a group of alternatively-placed (non-special education qualified) students in a suburban, public, middle school, that has been determined—by New York State standards—to be successful. Even within such hegemonically determined “successful” schools, a small (but significant) number of students fail and are in danger of becoming high school “non-completers.”

My interest in conducting research with alternatively placed youth stems from my own long teaching career. During this time, I came to realize the existence of students, within otherwise successful schools, who represent a, largely, non-visible “othered” population. I contend that such students’ “differences” may stem from a mismatch between the practices of educational institutions and the social/cultural practices found within the outside lives of some students. As I came to realize, during my time with these youth, their (oftentimes) unrecognized strengths and active natural agency, I plan to include the voices of these young people within my work. I will depend on a critical constructivist lens as I explore this group’s identity construction as learners, and the relationship of their self-realization to both inside and outside of school factors. I believe (and have witnessed) that youth have multiple, contextually-related identities and will, therefore, also depend on a postmodern lens. I hope that the outcome of my study will be a realization of this frequently overlooked population’s needs, and an increased understanding of the assets and agency of all of our youth—even those who are hegemonically judged to be unsuccessful.

I believe that the summer institute would provide me with a wonderful opportunity to further my knowledge of cultural/social practices and how this framework will be applicable to my own work. I look forward to exploring the application of these ideas to realizations of “othering,” and the means to utilize such understandings towards reform efforts, with multinational students/scholars. While I have been a part of several internationally attended conferences (AERA, AESA), this would be my first professional experience out of the United States.

Daniels, E., Harnischfeger, A., & Hos, R. (2009). Youth as active agents: Counter-
Narrating the source of reform. In N. Ares (Ed.), Youth-full productions: Cultural practices and constructions of content and social spaces, (pp. 17-46). New York, New York: Peter Lang, Publishing, Inc.

Alice Harnischfeger “Exploring Alternatively-placed Youths’ Understanding of Selves and Sociocultural Practices”