"My adolescence was pretty cliché": ELA preservice teachers' perceptions of adolescence, adolescents, and their depiciton in YA literature

Chea Lynn Parton, Purdue University


Interactions with colleagues and students during my time as a secondary ELA teacher served as the impetus for this study on preservice teachers' conceptions and perceptions about adolescence, adolescents, and their representation in YA literature. Scholars have explored and theorized adolescence as a social construct othered and marginalized by historical, economical, and political actions. The view that adolescence is constructed by society underpins this study which is rooted in grounded theory. This study pursues a better understanding of how preservice teachers conceive of their adolescent students, how they interact with those students during student teaching, and how they use their prior experience with YAL to understand adolescence. The preservice teachers in this study predominately viewed adolescence as an inherently negative experience and charged themselves as both student and practicing teachers with the task of guiding their students through it. Additionally, the preservice teachers believed that YA literature depicts adolescence and adolescents in authentic ways because YA authors can remember their own adolescence and use that as the foundation for their texts. Implications for English education such as the use of Critical Youth Studies, a youth lens, and reflection as part of the curriculum are discussed.




Shoffner, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Teacher education

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