You Don’t Know Me: Adolescent Identity Development Through Poetry Performance


  • Janette Michelle Hughes University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Laura Jane Morrison University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Cornelia Hoogland University of Western Ontario (professor emerita)



adolescents, identity, digital literacies, multiliteracies, poetry, performance, social practices, social networking sites, Facebook, pedagogy, mobile devices, Android tablets, poetic inquiry, performance ethnography, meta-cognitive


Our study concerns adolescents using poetry writing as an interrogative and creative means of shaping and creating “voices” or “identities.” Toronto-based high school students were challenged to be creators (rather than solely consumers) of available social practices within a digital landscape using mobile devices and social networking platforms. The students engaged in the processes of creating poetry that included experimentation with form (including spoken word, found, and rhyming couplet poetry), research, and writing-induced challenges of received ideas. Their creations of their multiple “Resonant Voices,” which in some cases were powerful statements of self-discovery and social criticism, were further amplified because they occurred in a formal educational setting.

Keywords: adolescents; identity; digital literacies; multiliteracies; poetry; social practices; social networking sites; Facebook; pedagogy; mobile devices; Android app; poetic inquiry; metacognitive

Author Biographies

Janette Michelle Hughes, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Dr. Janette Hughes is Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, Research at the Faculty of Education, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  She has published her work on digital transformations of literacy practices in a variety of highly respected national and international peer-reviewed journals and has presented her research at over 40 conferences across Canada, the United States, and Europe, and in Brazil, China, Japan, and the UK.  In 2011, Dr. Hughes’s research was recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation through an Early Researchers Award.  

Laura Jane Morrison, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Laura Morrison is currently completing her M. A. at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Presently, she is exploring how poetry, performance, technology and problem-based learning can aid in adolescents' self-exploration and growth.

Cornelia Hoogland, University of Western Ontario (professor emerita)

Dr. Cornelia Hoogland is the author of 6 books of poetry, 2 chapbooks, and scholarly articles on Poetic and Narrative Inquiry. Hoogland’s recent finalist placements include the 2012 Relit shortlist for Woods Wolf Girl, and the CBC 2012 Literary Nonfiction Awards for Sea Level.