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Gifted young adolescents and email : developing a personal language of self

By Lisette H. Dillon


This paper reports on the use of email as a means to access the self-constructions of gifted young adolescents. Australian research shows that gifted young adolescents may feel more lonely and misunderstood than their same-age counterparts, yet they are seldom asked about their lives. Emerging use of online methods as a means of access to individual lives and perceptions has demonstrated the potential offered by the creation of digital texts as narrative data. Details are given of a qualitative study that engaged twelve children aged between 10 and 14 years, who were screened for giftedness, in a project involving the generation of emailed journal entries sent over a period of 6 months. With emphasis on participatory principles, individual young adolescents produced self-managed journal entries that were written and sent to the researcher from personal computers outside the school setting. Drawing from a theoretical understanding of self as constructed within dialogic relationships, the digital setting of email is proposed as a narrative space that fosters healthy self-disclosure. This paper outlines the benefits of using email as a means to explore emotions, promote reflective accounts of self and support the development of a personal language for self-expression. Individual excerpts will be presented to show that the harnessing of personal narratives within an email context has potential to yield valuable insights into the emotions, personal realities and experiences of gifted young adolescents. Findings will be presented to show that the co-construction of self-expressive and explanatory narratives supported by a facilitative adult listener promoted healthy self-awareness amongst participants. This paper contributes to appreciative conversations about using online methods as a flexible and practical avenue for conducting educational research. Furthermore, digital writing in email form will be presented as having distinct advantages over face-to-face methods when utilised with gifted young adolescents who may be unwilling to disclose information within school-based settings

Topics: 130312 Special Education and Disability, email, gifted young adolescents, voices, self-construction
Publisher: AARE
Year: 2009
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