Carlos Martinez-Cano

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Carlos Martinez-Cano is pursuing his Ph.D. in Education, Culture, and Society after completing interdisciplinary coursework in Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Studies. His research interests include applying critical ethnographic methodologies to non-dominant youth learning STE(A)M practices in informal contexts. He has contributed to such publications as Anthropology News and Cultural Anthropologist and is an active member of the American Anthropological Association and the American Educational Research Association, regularly presenting his research at the annual meetings.

Dissertation Title: From “Disengaged” to Digital: Latino Boys as Emergent Technology Experts

Dissertation Abstract: The objective of Carlos’ dissertation is to provide an account of Latino boys as self-efficacious learners that shifts the conversation away from at-risk narratives and institutional high achievements. His research investigates: how a group of Latino boys integrated their cultural values and extant technology-related learning practices into self-directed digital literacy learning; the social processes that shaped their identity trajectories as emergent technology experts; and, how they formulated educational trajectories and imagined futures based on their technological and social practice skills development. Over eighteen months, he met weekly with eight Mexican-origin middle school boys at a community center technology room and utilized a critical ethnographic approach, observing the boys as they practiced coding/programming, 3-D drafting, and graphic design. Additionally, modeled on critical pedagogy, he posed questions to the boys about the transformative power of their learning practices. The ethnographic accounts suggest a mode of social identity formation wherein the boys came to understand themselves and fellow group members as emergent digital literacy experts, developed communicative repertoires aligned with technologically proficient social identities, and began the process of praxis in how to apply their emergent expertise to educational trajectories and imagined futures. Carlos’ research contributes to the anthropology of education as it focuses on how learners from non-dominant groups can develop identity trajectories in relation to their informal learning practices. It also demonstrates how educators in out-of-school contexts can bridge learners’ extant cultural and learning practices to digitally-mediated contexts, allowing learners to broaden their conceptions of themselves and their futures.