Kaplan, Avi; Schifter, Catherine; Hattikudur, Shanta; Smith, Michael W. (Michael William), 1954-; Goldblatt, Eli (Temple University. Libraries, 2018)
      By many accounts, developmental writing courses in community colleges are failing to teach students the requisite skills needed to be successful in college-level coursework. In the current dissertation, I have adopted an identity-based approach to examining and intervening in students’ experiences and engagement in the developmental writing course. The PRESS model of promoting identity exploration assigns educators the role of “identity agents” who design activities that encourage students to reflect on the academic content and make connections between the academic content and the self, question identity aspects, and explore alternative identity commitments. I modified activities in my developmental writing course based on the PRESS model and investigated the identity exploration, motivation, engagement, and learning of students in the course, which I studied with the Dynamic Systems Model of Role Identity (DSMRI). The study took place in a mid-sized community college in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. There were 15 racially mixed participating students. Design of the course activities aimed to promote the students’ identity exploration (IdEx activities) through facilitating reflection, questioning, information gathering and processing, understanding, and development of their identities as writers, and as college students. Cross-case comparisons of six narratives of participating students selected to reflect diversity of students’ characteristics and experiences highlighted the unique role identities, identity exploration, and motivation for each student, as well as their varied dynamics depending on class activities and time period within the semester. The findings also suggested that students’ role identities could be characterized along a dimension of “sophistication”—richer content with higher alignment vs. thinner content with more fragmentation. In addition, the findings indicated that despite variability, students’ engagement with the activities involved identity exploration and development in many cases. This finding illustrates the potential of identity-based pedagogy to promote desirable identity change, motivation, and learning in community college courses, and specifically in developmental writing courses. The study has implications for theory, research, practice, and professional development in community college developmental writing courses.