Ethnic Identity Formation in Adolescence: Impact of Teen Programs in Museums
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While there is an emerging body of literature on teen programs in museums, research has not addressed how these programs affect adolescents' racial, cultural, or ethnic identities. This qualitative study explores how teen programs in museums attempt to impact and are impacting participants' sense of their ethnic identity. The research focuses on three award-winning programs: the SURA Arts Academy at the Arab American National Museum, the High School Program at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and the YouthCAN program at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. The activities that appeared to impact students in these programs the most were arts-based activities, direct conversations about aspects of ethnic identity, and involvement in cultural practices and instruction. Through these activities, these programs appeared to have the greatest impact on participants' exploration of their ethnic identity, as well as influencing their commitment toward their ethnic identity. Teens reported that the programs helped them to better appreciate their ethnic culture, connect with the museum and their ethnic community, participate in cultural traditions, and think about their ethnic identity by learning more about their culture as well as other cultures. These findings can be used in defining program goals for various teen programs, as well as provide a baseline for further studies.
- Museology