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Design-Based Interventions for Promoting Students’ Identity Exploration within the School Curriculum

Motivational Interventions

ISBN: 978-1-78350-555-5

Publication date: 14 November 2014



Identity exploration is a central mechanism for identity formation that has been found to be associated with intense engagement, positive coping, openness to change, flexible cognition, and meaningful learning. Moreover, identity exploration in school has been associated with adaptive motivation for learning the academic material. Particularly in the fast-changing environment of contemporary society, confidence and skills in identity exploration and self-construction seems to be increasingly important. Therefore, promoting students’ identity exploration in school within the curriculum and in relation to the academic content should be adopted as an important educational goal. The purpose of this paper is to describe a conceptual framework for interventions to promote students’ identity exploration within the curriculum. The framework involves the application of four interrelated principles: (1) promoting self-relevance; (2) triggering exploration; (3) facilitating a sense of safety; and (4) scaffolding exploratory actions.


We begin the paper with a conceptual review of identity exploration. We follow by specifying the conceptual framework for interventions. We then present a methodological-intervention approach for applying this framework and describe three such interventions in middle-school contexts, in the domains of environmental education, literature, and mathematics.


In each intervention, applying the principles contributed to students’ adaptive motivation and engagement in the academic material and also contributed to students’ identity exploration, though not among all students. The findings highlight the contextual, dynamic, and indeterminate nature of identity exploration among early adolescents in educational settings, and the utility of the conceptual framework and approach for conceptualizing and intervening to promote identity exploration among students.


This paper contributes to the conceptual understanding of identity exploration in educational settings, highlights the benefits and the challenges in intervening to promote identity exploration among students, and discusses the future directions in theory, research, and practice concerned with the promotion of identity exploration in educational settings.



Kaplan, A., Sinai, M. and Flum, H. (2014), "Design-Based Interventions for Promoting Students’ Identity Exploration within the School Curriculum", Motivational Interventions (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 243-291.



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