High school students’ expressions of civic identity: a thematic analysis of asynchronous discussion forums in an online high school United States government course
This study examined a group of high school students’ discursive expressions of civic identity within asynchronous discussion forums in an online classroom. A better understanding of such expressions within these forums could provide schools with ideas for constructing curricula that promote the development of civic identity in their students. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze the text from the asynchronous discussion forums in an online United States Government course. During data analysis, four major themes emerged: respect for the rule of law, respect for others’ rights, sense of civic responsibility, and critical thinking. The main conclusions drawn from this study were that most of the students possess many civic dispositions essential to civic identity, but they do not seem to possess a mature civic identity due to a lack of a strong civic and political knowledge base and a sense of civic purpose. The lack of a strong teaching presence in the forums may have affected the quality of the discussions. This dissertation makes three recommendations. First, schools should promote moral education across the curriculum. Second, schools should provide students with opportunities to participate in community service that is linked to the formal curriculum. Third, teaching training programs—both pre-service and in-service—should provide teachers with opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills they will need to teach effectively online.