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|
Doctoral Student, Educational Psychology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
Associate Dean, Educational Psychology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
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