Personal Identity Wheel
The Personal Identity Wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers. The worksheet prompts students to list adjectives they would use to describe themselves, skills they have, favorite books, hobbies, etc. Unlike the Social Identity Wheel, this worksheet does not emphasize perception or context. It is best used as an icebreaker activity or in conjunction with the Social Identity Wheel in order to encourage students to reflect on the relationships and dissonances between their personal and social identities. The wheels can be used as a prompt for small or large group discussion or reflective writing on identity by using the Spectrum Activity, Questions of Identity.
Please be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of the page with your thoughts or experience with this activity!
- When used as an icebreaker, this activity can be used to help students find common ground with their peers and learn more about one another, helping students build community.
- When used in conjunction with the Social Identity Wheel, the Personal Identity Wheel can be further interrogated to consider how students’ personal identities are or aren’t informed by their social identities.
Application in a STEM Course:
Fostering a sense of community in your classroom can create a sense of belonging. According to a CRLT study on retention in STEM courses, “students reported that classroom climate (including their anxiety levels, how welcome they felt in class…and instructor rapport with students) significantly influenced their decisions to stay in or leave STEM disciplines.” If students feel that they are part of a community, they will feel more comfortable engaging and participating in the classroom. In another study, peer interactions and support in STEM courses led to gains both academically and socially. The Personal Identity Wheel is a great way for students to engage with each other on a personal level, creating connections that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Taking the time to complete this activity at the start of the semester will help students form meaningful bonds, allowing them to better collaborate and support each other throughout the semester.
Application in a Large Course:
Cooperative learning and small group approaches in a large course can greatly benefit student learning, engagement, and overall sense of community. Research has shown that leveraging such approaches can lead to the development of key skills such as active listening, empathy, consensus building, leadership, constructive conflict management and resolution as well as decreasing racial prejudice while increasing interracial tolerance. This activity allows students in your large course to learn from and about each other and to reduce the feeling of anonymity that can be pervasive in a large course setting. By making your large course feel smaller through this activity, you are actively working toward making a more inclusive space for all students.
Application in an Online Course:
Online learning can feel impersonal and disconnected, but there are inclusive teaching practices you can leverage to build community and connection in your online course. Taking the time to get to know each other’s identities through this activity can help build trust between students, which is a key indicator of whether or not students feel comfortable participating. In one study, researchers asked the question, “What did graduate students who were enrolled in an online course about teaching online find most valuable about online moderation and community building?” From the study, students stated that Student Needs and Community Building were essential components to online learning. Regarding Student Needs, one student stated, “It is necessary that everyone feels safe, comfortable, and welcomed before they will fully engage, enabling them to make personal connections and grow from each other. Regarding Community Building, another student stated, “Learning communities often develop naturally in a traditional classroom environment, but in an online course, the instructor must make that happen.”