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Adolescent identity formation and the school environment

posted on 23.03.2018, 00:00 by Neda AbbasiNeda Abbasi
The chapter presents an interpretation of identity formation during adolescence that informs the development of school environments which are responsive to adolescents’ developmental needs. A review of literature on adolescent identity formation and schooling for identity development was conducted to set the grounds for further exploration of design-related implications of adolescent identity formation for schools’ physical environments. The chapter opens with a review of some definitions and theories of identity formation and crucial factors and experiences involved in this developmental task of adolescence. Implications of the processes of identity formation for education of adolescents are then explored. Analysing and synthesising the outcomes of the two strands of literature review, two key characteristics of schools that support adolescent identity formation are identified and associated factors and issues elaborated. Three major processes involved in adolescent identity formation are identified: (1) separation orindividuation process; (2) social integration or relational connectedness; and (3) developmental exploration. Schools that contribute to these identity formation processes are suggested to have two characteristics: (1) they have a supportive school environment addressing adolescents’ needs for individuation and social integration; and (2) they offer opportunities to adolescents fordevelopmental exploration. The chapter continues with examining implications of these characteristics for physical spaces of schools through a review of research and practices of learning space design. Four secondary schools in Australia which represented an innovative approach to learning space design are considered as case studies to provide insights into the design-related implications of adolescent identity formation and better understand issues and challenges associated with them. The chapter concludes with proposing five design principles which supports adolescent identity development through contributing to processes involved in identity formation: (1) downsizing schools or adopting design strategies to support the idea of smallness; (2) creating social spaces; (3) maximising flexibility; (4) addressing considerations for design and arrangement of furniture; and (5) promoting transparency and visual connections.



Fisher K

Parent Title

The translational design of schools: An evidence-based approach to aligning pedagogy and learning environments

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Place of Publication

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Deakin University

Era Eligible