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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Organized chaos: Young adolescents' perceptions of social processes within a middle school cafeteria
by Wellenreiter, Benjamin R., Ed.D., Illinois State University, 2010, 270; 3485931
Abstract (Summary)

Research identifies non-academic school spaces such as cafeterias as important locations where socialization occurs. Previous research is limited in describing how elementary school-aged children and high school students experience these settings. This qualitative study investigated young adolescents' perceptions of social processes that occurred within a middle school cafeteria. Two mixed-gender groups responded to semi-structured interview questions. Observations informed research questions and substantiated or challenged participants' statements. Participants identified negotiation of multiple authority structures, interpretation of gender roles, multiple peer group interactions, and individual roles as major social processes. Participants described adult authority figures as having an ancillary role to peer authority figures while in this setting. Social norms and rules were described as vague, flexible, and under continual reevaluation by participants. Boys' gender roles were framed by participants in terms of physical interactions. Girls' gender roles were framed by participants in terms of verbal interactions. Individuals were described by participants as being members of multiple peer groups. Peer groups were as blending together and continually changing in their memberships. Individual roles and behaviors were described by participants as both positive and negative influences on overall social processes of the cafeteria. The positive or negative nature of these behaviors was framed by relationships participants had with an individual.

Teacher educators should continue to emphasize a holistic view of educational experiences by providing preservice with experiences that focus on adolescents' social behaviors. Future research should focus on investigating social processes of adolescents in a variety of non-academic school settings. Additionally, future investigations should include perceptions of adolescents who identify with various races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hatch, Douglas D.
School: Illinois State University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Middle School education
Keywords: Adolescents, Gender identity, Peer groups, Socialization
Publication Number: 3485931
ISBN: 978-1-267-03725-1
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