LGB in the Land of the Free: Exploring the Social and Educational Implications of Identity Development

By Sherry Kollmann and Patricia Hardré.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Research on identifying as a lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) person has historically been separated from learning, yet we know that students’ identities influence how they process information. As educators, practitioners and peers, we lack understanding of how this unobservable diversity impacts learning. Who LGB students are is part of what they bring to educational environments; and how they navigate development in their internal and external worlds colors their social self-awareness. It is this intangible aspect of identity perception and development that strikes at the core of education and learning for LGB students. Students who see themselves as sexually different continually renegotiate their identity with each new class and unfamiliar faculty member. The commonalities among these students’ stories illustrate inequalities that can be addressed by practicing awareness and critical consciousness. This qualitative study examines the phenomena of LGB college students’ lived experiences related to social identity, and cognitive and social development in learning environments throughout their developmental trajectories. The constructionist approach that we take provides an authentic way to uncover the essence of the lived experiences that are shared by the 15 graduate LGB student participants. These include elements such as dual-identities, shifting social cognitive trajectories and unique construction of perceived selves that resist privileged social norms. The semi-structured interview approach invited them to tell their stories. Moustakas’ (1994) systematic phenomenological analysis enabled a holistic description of the meanings and essence of the lived experiences by the LGB learners, providing us the opportunity to understand learning experiences seen through the eyes and told in the voices of LGB students.

Keywords: Identity, Social Learning, Cognition

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp.79-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 858.306KB).

Sherry Kollmann

Doctoral Student, Educational Psychology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA

Sherry Kollmann, MA, M.Ed., is a doctoral student in Educational Psychology at the University of Oklahoma. She also oversees the instructional design and distance education at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. In addition, she currently serves as an adjunct faculty member for an MBA program at a Midwestern University. Her research specialties include: epistemology, human motivation, cognition, identity development, instructional design, and faculty work.

Dr. Patricia Hardré

Associate Dean, Educational Psychology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA

Patricia Hardré, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oklahoma. She is also Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research for the University’s College of Education. Dr. Hardré earned her Ph.D. at the University of lowa, majoring in Instructional Design and Technology, with a minor in Measurement and Evaluation, and an emphasis in Human Motivation. Her research specialties include: faculty work, motivation in education, rural education, teaching assistant training and education, instructional design and educational program evaluation.


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