By the time they get to high school, students can likely list half a dozen times they’ve created an “All About Me” collage, showing family or cultural backgrounds, as a way for classmates and teachers to get to know one another. But with a different framing and a more structured approach, these types of projects can have a significant personal impact as well.
A body of research has shown the benefits of young people actively exploring their personal backgrounds — and a critical piece of that puzzle is probing ethnic-racial identity. A new study finds that when teens are given structured, facilitated opportunities to explore their ethnic-racial identity, the academic, emotional, and social payoffs can be long-lasting.
A Curriculum to Explore Identity
In the new study, adolescent development expert Adriana Umaña-Taylor examined the impact of the Identity Project, a curriculum she co-developed with her students to equip teens of any ethnic or racial background — white or black, Latino or Asian, Native American or Middle Eastern — with tools and strategies to explore their ethnic-racial identity. The curriculum is eight weeks long, with one hour-long session per week.