Thursday, April 15, 2010

Attitudes and Values

This is a comprehensive study between the types of possessions people keep, and the differences between family heirlooms and instrumental objects, and the consistency they hold in terms of values.

Three studies were conducted to investigate individual consistency in the psychological functions of possessions, attitudes, and values. In the first study, participants listed favorite possessions, which other subjects classified by their similarity in source of value. The similarity data were analyzed using multidimensional scaling. In Study 2, new subjects rated each possession on four scales that represented subjective interpretations of the scaling dimensions, and mean scale ratings of objects were regressed over the scaling solution. The primary dimension distinguished symbolic or self-expressive objects (e.g., family heirlooms) from instrumental objects (e.g., a stereo). In Study 3, individual consistency in orientation toward symbolic or instrumental possessions, attitudes, and values was examined. The same subjects who listed possessions in Study 1 indicated their favourability toward symbolic and instrumental appeals and values. On the basis of the locations of their possessions in the scaling solution, individuals were classified into symbolic and instrumental possession groups, and attitudes and values of the two groups were compared. Results indicate that the self-expressive function of possessions, attitudes, and values is consistent within individuals

Prentice, D. "Psychological correspondence of possessions, attitudes, and values." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53 ( 1987): 883– 1003.

Identity and Reinterpretation

Reinterpretation, an old concept developed by Melville Herskovits, is the way in which people seek to relate and adapt their changing experiences by using the past as a marker for interpreting the present.

This was the main theme to the book of objects I produced for another class. The contributors were asked to provide a photograph of an object that had value and was older than them, so the age was greater than the person who owned it. Each object was used as way to interpret something of value. People apply memory and meaning to items, and often use reinterpretation to make sense of new objects in their lives.

Hamer, J. H. "Identity, process, and reinterpretation: The past made present and the present made past." Anthropos 89 (1994): 1– 190.

The Consumer

This article focuses on the consumer behaviour in relation to self identity.

Our possessions are a major contributor to and reflection of our identities. A variety of evidence is presented supporting this simple and compelling premise. Related streams of research are identified and drawn upon in developing this concept and implications are derived for consumer behavior. Because the construct of extended self involves consumer behavior rather than buyer behavior, it appears to be a much richer construct than previous formulations positing a relationship between self-concept and consumer brand choice.

Belk, R. W. "Possessions and the extended self." Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1988): 139-68.


This article is particularly relevant to a thesis on possessions and collections. The article uses research to determine how society shapes our behaviour with possessions and how this reflects human nature. A cross-cultural, developmental, interview study is described that resulted in the identification of 27 dimensions of possession, 21 different reasons for ownership, and 41 categories of possessions. There are 2 major themes that emerge from the study: One was a sense of personal competence or control; the other was an association between possessions and the sense of self. Also, further studies with 2–5 yr old children that social environments determine how possession related behaviour emerges as children grow older.

Furby, L. "Understanding the psychology of possession and ownership: A personal memoir and an appraisal of our progress." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 457– 63.


Educational aspirations among Canadian 15-year-old youth are remarkably high: almost all aspire to complete high school, and over nine in ten say they want to go on beyond high school. University is clearly the post-secondary pathway of choice, being named by over two thirds of the youth. Less than one in ten say they want to pursue an apprenticeship or attend a post secondary trade or vocational school.

This quote pertains to my thesis proposal regarding youth literacy tutoring. Essentially, if youth have the aspirations to do well, then a tutoring system should be easily populated. Confidence plays a major role in success, and the atmosphere of the writing centre would create just that, likely publishing compilation books of student work, and bringing self esteem and skills up at the same time.

Learning Policy Directorate. Aspirations of Canadian youth for higher education: Final Report.
Ottawa, ON, Canada: Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 2004.

Possessions and Collections References

Abelson, R. P. "Beliefs are like possessions." Journal of Theory of Social Behavior 16 (1986): 223-50.

Abelson, R. P., and D. A. Prentice. Beliefs as possessions: A functional perspective. In Attitude structure and function, ed. A. R. Pratkanis. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1987.

Ainsworth, M. "Attachments beyond infancy." American Psychologist 44 (1989): 709-16.

Baum, S., and R. Steward. "Sources of meaning through the lifespan." Psychological Reports 67 (1990): 3-14.

Belk, R. W. "Possessions and the extended self." Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1988): 139-68.

Belk, R. W. "Extended self and extending paradigmatic reflections of identity: Gender and social-material position in society." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 165-86.

Buss, H. Mapping our selves. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993.

Cairns, K., ed. Treasures: The Stories Women Tell about the Things They Keep. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., and E. Rochberg-Halton. The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

de Beauvoir, S. The coming of age. New York: Warner, 1973.

de Grazia, V., ed. The sex of things: Gender and consumption in historical perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Dittmar, H. "Gender identity-related meanings of personal possessions." British Journal of Social Psychology 28 (1989): 159-71.

Dittmar, H. "Meanings of material possessions as reflections of identity: Gender and social-material position in society." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 165-86.

Faraday, A., and K. Plummer. "Doing life histories." Sociological Review 27 (1979): 773-92.

Formanek, R. "Why they collect: Collectors reveal their motivation." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 275– 86.

Furby, L. "Understanding the psychology of possession and ownership: A personal memoir and an appraisal of our progress." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 457– 63.

Glodi, K. A., and A. Blasi. "The sense of self and identity among adolescents and adults." Journal of Adolescent Research 8 (1993): 356– 80.

Graham, H. Surveying through stories. In Social Researching: Politics, Problems, Practice, ed. C. H. Roberts. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984.

Graumann, C. F. "Psychology and the world of things." Journal of Phenomenological Research 4 (1974): 389– 404.

Guterce, A. "Transitional objects: A reconsideration of the phenomenon." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 187– 208.

Hamer, J. H. "Identity, process, and reinterpretation: The past made present and the present made past." Anthropos 89 (1994): 1– 190.

Hirschman, E. C., and P. A. LaBarbera. "Dimensions of possession importance." Psychology and Marketing 7 (1990): 215– 33.

Horwitz, J., and J. Tognoli. "Role of home in adult development: Women and men living alone describe their residential histories." Family Relations 31 (1982): 335– 41.

Josselson, R., and A. Lieblich, eds. The narrative study of lives. 4 vols. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1995.

Katymun, M. "The prevalence of factors influencing decisions among elderly women concerning household possessions during relocation." Housing Practice 3 (1986): 82– 99.

Kamptner, N. L. "Personal possessions and their meaning: A lifespan perspective." Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 209– 28.

Kotre, J. Outliving the self: Generativity and the interpretation of lives. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

Lewis, M. The exposed self. New York: Free Press, 1991.

McCracken, A. "Emotional impact of possession loss." Journal of Gerontological Nursing 13 (1987): 14– 19.

Mehta, R., and R. W. Belk. "Artefacts, identity, and transition: Favorite possessions of Indians and Indian immigrants to the United States." Journal of Consumer Research 17 (1991): 398– 411.

Middleton, D., and D. Edwards, eds. Collective remembering. London: Sage Publications, 1990.

Mountain, G., and P. Bowie. "The possessions owned by longstay psychogeriatric patients." International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 7 (1992): 285– 90.

Mumby, D. Narrative and social control. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1993.

O’Brien, T. The things they carried. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1991.

Olsen, T. Silences. New York: Dell Publishing, 1982.

Perreault, J. Writing selves. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

Prentice, D. "Psychological correspondence of possessions, attitudes, and values." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53 ( 1987): 883– 1003.

Rabin, A. Studying persons and lives. New York: Spring Publishing, 1990.

Rochberg-Halton, E. "Object relations, role models, and cultivation of the seal." Environment and Behavior 16 (1984): 335– 68.

Ruddick, S., and P. Daniels. Working it out. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.

Sherman, E., and E. Newman. "The meaning of cherished personal possessions for the elderly." Journal of Aging and Human Development 8 (1977): 181– 92.

Wappner, S. "Cherished possessions and adaptation of older people to nursing homes." International Journal of Aging and Human Development 31 (1990): 219– 35.


I recently completed a project on collections. I have always had an interest in antiques, family heirlooms, and objects that survive the test of time. This project took the form of a book, and my professor suggested it would make an interesting thesis topic. Essentially I would create a series of books sampling different cultural areas and the objects that individuals keep. In the fast-paced consumer culture, the value of the object seems increasingly lost. How does this change from one culture to another? How does this related to Canada's history? I came across this book on Northwest Coast natives and the dissemination of their belongings.

The pace of cultural change, of the integration of the Northwest Coast natives into European economic and cultural systems, seemed remorseless. Looms, cradles, fishing nets and hooks, cooking boxes, weapons, bark and woven cloaks disappeared before the cheaper manufactures of western industry.

Cole, Douglas . Captured Heritage: The Scramble for Northwest Coast Artifacts.
Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press, 1995. p 244.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Agency and Humour

Feedback from Sarah RE: Engaging Youth in Literacy Tutoring

Develop the agency!
Use humour - humour is inherently political; disrupts the norm. Can be used to create community. This is seen in the 826 National Literacy groups: Pirate Supply Store, Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Store, Bigfoot Research Institute, The Boring Store, etc.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Excellent short film by Annie Leonard with an overview of the bottled water industry. How do we change public perception of bottled water? She mentions bringing back water fountains. It's true that most public water fountains are not maintained, filled with gum and leaves and debris. They are not appealing and this sends a message to the public that we don't care about tap water.

The Story of Bottled Water. The Story of Stuff Project and Free Range Studios. 10 April 2010

Profiles of Volunteers

A sub-question of my thesis would be how to attract volunteers to a literacy tutoring program. This study shows the motivations, benefits, satisfaction and barriers to volunteering more. This will prove in sustaining repeat volunteers and learning how to recruit the right people for the job.
Most people volunteer for a passion for the cause, and if advertised properly, the importance of literacy in the community will garner considerable interest.

Gotlib Conn, Lesley. Core Volunteers: Exploring the Values, Attitudes, and Behaviours Underlying Sustained Volunteerism in Canada: Report. Toronto, ON, Canada: Imagine Canada, 2006.

Understanding how kids use technology

This report shows how students use technology and more specifically the internet. Studies were taken to evaluate kids favourite websites and how much time spent on the internet. There is also a section titled Empowering Young People through Education. This is valuable information for the development of an online community associated with the literacy tutoring program. What do students of various ages find the most appealing. At this date, it would not make sense to start a literacy program with no online content - the majority of students spend much of their free time on computers. Games could be developed to educate students as well as entertain them.

Steeves, Valerie. Young Canadians in a Wired World: Trends and Recommendations. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Industry Canada, 2005.

The Value of Literacy Tutors

This research report shows that volunteering is a major part of the literacy training in Ontario. The data was gathered from Literacy Agencies, and compiled to show the monetary value, as well as the how to movitate, train, recruit, and manage volunteers. This is crucial information for the development of a thesis project based on literacy tutoring. It would be streamlined to stem this project from an existing literacy agency in order to pool resources and minimize start up costs, as well as adopt the respect and esteem of an established program. Trust would be a factor in starting a program, and to piggyback onto an agency would ease any uncertainty with the community. Also, of course, developing a relationship with neighborhood schools would be easier when affiliated with an agency.

The report shows how significant the volunteers are:

The results of the economic assessment reveal the vast economic value volunteers bring to community literacy agencies in Ontario. It is apparent that an estimated 5,985 volunteers contribute 665,175 hours or the equivalent of $12,505,290 in work time annually to Anglophone community literacy agencies throughout Ontario. The economic value of all literacy volunteers to all sectors and streams in Ontario is estimated at an $13, 826, 667.

This study states that the two most effective methods for recruiting volunteers are word of mouth and the local media, particularly newspapers. This could be made even more effective with a branded consistent image for the program. It also mentions that younger Canadians are more likely to volunteer when asked. To design the program so that it appeals to younger volunteers is also very important. This helps to preemptively eliminate any stigma that may be asscociated with literacy tutoring or volunteering.

MacDonald, Robb. Literacy Volunteers: Value Added Research Report. Barrie, ON, CAN: Community Literacy of Ontario, 2005.

National Literacy Strategy

This report is fairly recent and states that 42% of adults in Canada are lacking adequate literacy skills. This report compiles reasoning and solutions in order to bring National literacy to a higher level, which in turn drives economic growth and empowers individuals to engage in democratic and social decisions. Literacy begins with childhood and the report acknowledges that the benefits of literacy accrue over a lifetime and focusing on youth is the primary goal.

Several issues are identified in the beginning of the report:

1. The inability of many Canadian children to access high-quality early childhood education and care programs. Access tends to be a particular challenge for those children who are most vulnerable to poor literacy outcomes because they lack adequate supports through their home and neighbourhood environments. 2. T he inability of many Canadian children to access libraries, and other supporting programs and services, again with access challenges increasing for many of the most vulnerable Canadian children.
3. The inability of many Canadian schools to identify and deal effectively with children who already lag behind their peers when they first enter school.
4. T he need to improve teacher preparation in the area of reading development and reading instruction, and to improve the quality of literacy-related instruction in Canadian classrooms.
Although these are large issues, I believe that free literacy tutoring in neighbourhoods will significantly increase literacy in the students involved. The key is to create a fun environment with engaging visuals that inspire and uplift the community, volunteers, and students.

Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. National Strategy for Early Literacy: Report and Recommendations. London, ON, Canada: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, 2009.

Literacy Tutoring

I was a literacy tutor during the summer months between 2000-2004. I was hired by the Limestone District School Board in Kingston. This was part of a initiative to bring better results on the EQAO Grade 10 Literacy Test that was issued across Ontario. Our team would meet with every single Grade 9 student and assess their level. Some students required more help than others, and we scheduled brief daily meetings with these students. Many of the resources we had were dated and poorly designed aesthetically. I took an interest in re-designing several and customizing the resources to suit the students interests. These proved to engage the student and take more interest in the assigned tasks. Visually stimulating material is a key factor in gaining a students attention level and keeping them on task.

More about EQAO:

EQAO ensures greater accountability and better quality in Ontario’s publicly funded school system. An arm’s-length agency of the provincial government, EQAO provides parents, teachers and the public with accurate and reliable information about student achievement. EQAO also makes recommendations for improvement that educators, parents, policy-makers and others in the education community can use to improve learning and teaching.

Education Quality and Accountability Office. Queen's Printer for Ontario 2010. 10 April 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Once Upon a School Website

Eggers, Dave. Once Upon a School. March 30 2010.

This site is an online initiative developed in response to author and philanthropist Dave Eggers' 2008 TED Prize wish to inspire and collect the stories of private citizens engaged in their local public schools. Each year, three individuals are granted the TED Prize, which provides winners with a wish to change the world, $100,000 in seed money, and the support of the TED community in making the wish come true. Dave looked to the community to build a website that would collect these stories. 826 National, Hot Studio, and Carbon Five stepped up and created Once Upon a School.

Keep track of sources

Marzano, Robert J. and Diane E. Paynter. New Approaches to Literacy: Helping Students Develop Reading and Writing Skills. Washington: American Pyschological Association, 1994.

Keep track of sources

Pantaleo, Sylvia. Student Response to Contemporary Picturebooks. Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 2008.

Brabazon, Tara.
The University of Google, education in the (post) information age. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007.

Robinson, Joan ed.
A Second Chance, Literacy Training Manual. Asst. Catherine Lundie. Toronto: North York Public Library, Adult Literacy Program, [1989?].

Sunday, April 4, 2010