Engaging in identity work through engineering practices in elementary classrooms

Gregory J. Kelly, Christine M. Cunningham, Amy Ricketts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This article examines the emergence of identity work in engineering among elementary school students. Engineering has only recently been added to state and national standards in the United States. The purpose of the study was to examine ways that engaging in engineering practices transforms students’ views of engineering and themselves. Video of two teachers, each teaching one engineering unit, was analyzed. Across the lessons of these engineering units (designing a parachute and designing a mortar mixture for a stone wall), a sociolinguistic perspective was taken to show how engagement in engineering provides opportunities for identity work among the students and teachers. Analyses of the classroom discourse identified the epistemological and ontological constructions of identity, uses of intertextuality and chronotopes to build identity over time, and ways that collective understandings supported student take-up of an engineering identity. Because engineering is a new discipline in most classrooms, it provides a unique opportunity to examine how disciplinary affinity can be developed through purposeful activity and metadiscourse about participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalLinguistics and Education
StatePublished - Jun 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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