Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education


The term nerd has seen an alteration in usage since it was first used in the 1950s. Originally, nerd carried a negative connotation and people labeled as such were given or had traits such as being overly studious, socially inept, or physically unattractive. However, the term nerd has seen a change in usage since the 1980s; now, the term nerd is seen as a more positive identifier that denotes passion, as well as individuality and intellectualism. There a number of different studies that address nerd identities and cultures in the K-12 educational setting and a broader societal contexts. Yet, there is a lack of empirical data looking at college student nerd identity. This study uses an ethnographic methodology to explore nerd identity within a single student organization at a medium sized, Midwestern institution. This study found that college student nerd identity is expressed through appearances, conversations, and activities, as well as through their values and beliefs.

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