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This qualitative multicase study seeks to create dynamic pedagogical space - meaning making capacities encouraging multiple types of participation - where adolescent voices are privileged. Opening pedagogical space sits at the intersection of feminist standpoint theory, critical consciousness and social constructivism. Disturbingly, space supporting the inner lives and voices of students is shrinking in current educational environments, partially due to prescriptive curricula and rigid standards. The rationale for this study emanates from the researcher’s (as co-participant) educational journey and professional experience at the middle school and higher education levels. This study’s purpose explores, “what happens when space is created for middle school students to engage in photovoice participatory action research with narrative self-construction and perspective taking?” The writer’s assumptions comprise thinking around photography stimulating renewal of classroom space for imagining, sharing lived experiences and exploring alternative possibilities. Participants include 15 middle school students across two case studies situated in voluntary after school programs. Participant sites constitute a suburban middle school and an urban University in partnership with community outreach. Qualitative methodology, including a photovoice participatory action hybrid model, informs the two cycle analyses: visual content analysis codes photographs through frequency counts leading to meta-themes while thematic narrative analysis examines discussions and narrative self construction through In Vivo coding leading to meta-theme construction. Framed by three guiding questions, findings are advanced and through reflection and synthesis, the following analytic categories emerge supported by the conceptual framework – pedagogical space reveals strengths; diffuses power; and explores identity. Researcher assumptions are challenged as participants use pedagogical spaces to showcase, “here’s what I am,” rather than, “here’s what I long to be.” Conclusions gleaned from findings include: photographs are multiliteracies opening channels for communication, comprehension and cultural diversity; and middle school students seek power neutral opportunities to explore identity, demonstrate what they know, and engage in topics they care about. Recommendations support classroom habits integrating new literacies, museum components, bi-weekly autobiographical narratives and reflexive memo writing. This research contributes to the fields of adolescent identity, disciplinary literacy, feminist theory, participatory action research, secondary education and visual arts.



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