Learners experiences of the role of academic underachievement on the journey to identity development

Mavundla, Slindile Sbakhile Penelope (2020-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Research has shown that humanity undergoes different stages of development, and identity development in adolescence is one of these stages. In order to attain identity, this requires adolescents to interact successfully with different environments. This study aimed to understand the journey of identity development among adolescents who are underachieving at school, which is an environment that they interact with frequently at this stage. Studies on adults with learning difficulties have found that the experiences of learners who have learning difficulties are a topic worthy of being explored, as adults reported how their childhood experiences had influenced their adult life. This study focused on learners who had not been assessed and diagnosed as having any learning disorders. However, these learners found academic studies a challenge, because they experienced grade retention or social promotion at school. The study used an interpretivist paradigm, as the aim was to understand and describe the learners’ experiences. Data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews, observations and a drawing activity. To obtain richer data, the interviews were conducted in IsiZulu, because it was the participants’ home language. Thematic analysis was applied to the translations. All these strategies helped to gain in-depth insights to the participants’ journey towards identity development. Findings showed that by not achieving academically, the participants had not successfully resolved the stage of “industry versus inferiority”. This sparked a sense of inadequacy and inferiority in the participants and it influenced how the participants handled the next stage of development, namely, “identity versus role confusion”. The participants internalised external expectations of who they ought to be and how they should carry themselves. As a result, the participants sought future careers that would align with these social expectations, instead of using their skills and talents as a guide to their choice of a career. The participants also identified more with the communities that they lived in, as opposed to their school community, because the internalised expectations were what their families and communities encouraged.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Navorsing het getoon dat die mensdom verskillende stadiums van ontwikkeling ondergaan, en dat identiteitsontwikkeling in adolessensie een van hierdie fases is. Om identiteit te verkry, vereis dit dat adolessente suksesvol met verskillende omgewings omgaan. Hierdie studie het ten doel gehad om die reis van identiteitsontwikkeling onder tieners wat op skool onderpresteer, te verstaan, wat 'n omgewing is waarmee hulle op hierdie stadium gereeld in wisselwerking is. Uit studies oor volwassenes met leerprobleme is bevind dat die ervarings van leerders met leerprobleme 'n onderwerp is wat die moeite werd is om te ondersoek, aangesien volwassenes berig het hoe hul kinderlike ervarings hul volwasse lewe beïnvloed het. Hierdie studie het gefokus op leerders wat nie geassesseer en gediagnoseer is as enige leerstoornisse nie. Hierdie leerders het akademiese studies egter 'n uitdaging gevind omdat hulle graadbehoud of sosiale bevordering op skool ervaar het. Die studie het 'n interpretivistiese paradigma gebruik, aangesien die doel was om die ervarings van die leerders te verstaan en te beskryf. Data is versamel deur middel van semigestruktureerde onderhoude, waarnemings en 'n tekenaktiwiteit. Om ryker data te bekom, is die onderhoude in IsiZulu gevoer, omdat dit die deelnemers se huistaal was. Tematiese analise is toegepas op die vertalings. Al hierdie strategieë het gehelp om 'n diepgaande insig te kry oor die deelnemers se reis na identiteitsontwikkeling. Bevindinge het getoon dat die deelnemers nie die akademiese prestasie behaal het deur die fase van 'industrie versus minderwaardigheid' suksesvol af te handel nie. Dit het 'n gevoel van ontoereikendheid en minderwaardigheid by die deelnemers laat ontstaan en dit het beïnvloed hoe die deelnemers die volgende fase van ontwikkeling hanteer het, naamlik 'identiteit teenoor rolverwarring'. Die deelnemers het eksterne verwagtinge geïnternaliseer oor wie hulle behoort te wees en hoe hulle hulself moet dra. Die resultaat was dat die deelnemers toekomstige loopbane gesoek het wat ooreenstem met hierdie sosiale verwagtinge, in plaas daarvan om hul vaardighede en talente te gebruik as 'n riglyn vir hul keuse van 'n loopbaan. Die deelnemers het ook meer geïdentifiseer met die gemeenskappe waarin hulle gewoon het, in teenstelling met hul skoolgemeenskap, omdat die geïnternaliseerde verwagtinge was wat hul gesinne en gemeenskappe aangemoedig het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107931
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