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Discovering identity and purpose in the classroom: Theoretical, empirical, and applied perspectives.

Publication Authors: 
Lisa Kiang, Heather Malin, & Amy Sandoz
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
The Ecology of Purposeful Living Across the Lifespan: Developmental, Educational, and Social Perspectives. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-52078-6

Identity formation has long been considered a crucial developmental task that evolves into a deep sense of purpose. As many adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours withing the school context, there is a great potential to boost both identity and purpose through the educational setting -- via curriculum and instruction, extracurricular opportunities, school climate and culture, purpose development classes, and guidance from teachers. This chapter reviews the theoretical foundations and empirical evidence for expecting links between identity and purpose. The challenges, opportunities, and benefits of addressing identity and purpose withing the school context are also discussed. An innovative charter school program is unpacked as an illustration of how identity and purpose might be effectively fostered in the classroom. Conclusions and implications are examined in light of cultural sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion.