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Theory Information

Grounded in the work of Piaget and Erickson, identity models generally look at the development and negotiation of personal identity as impacted by societal categorization (what group others put you in) and how that category is viewed by self and others. Identity is thus formed through a reflexive process involving interaction between our self, others, and systems in our environment. These models explore the questions of "Who am I?" and "Who are you?"—racially, ethnically, culturally, class, etc. Ultimately, identity development addresses the question of group membership but also the impact of forced categorization by a "dominant" group.


Personal identity and growth of identity structure and definition can be supported while furthering opportunities to interact with those from other identity groups. Educational opportunities regarding diversity issues within U.S. history and culture can be explored, including the topics of power structures, marginalization, and blended identity, such as third culture or global nomad. Students can be challenged to develop complexity in regards to the dynamic nature of identity and a deeper understanding of self within larger societal structures and categorizations.

Programs that are "connected" to Identity Development theories facilitate interaction described in the section above and directly address the questions of "who am I?"; "who are we?," etc.

Reflections Larry Braskamp
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