07 SES 03 A JS, Counteracting Discrimination in Schools and Minority Students’ Educational Experiences
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 26
According to the UN Refugee Agency “patterns of human mobility have become increasingly complex in recent years, and refugee and migratory movements now intersect in a number of different ways” (UNHCR, 2016). Although migrants and refugees are differently defined and treated under international law, their common characteristic is the process of acculturation they undergo as they are immersed in the socio-cultural environment of the receiving countries.
Acculturation refers to changes in behaviour and attitudes through contact between individuals from different cultural backgrounds (e.g. Berry 2006; Ward 2008). This process involves the extent to which groups or individuals maintain aspects of their heritage culture and/or adopt aspects of the host culture (Berry 2006). Research on acculturation has applied the concept to a variety of groups, such as immigrants of all generations, other ethnic and racial minorities, indigenous and colonized groups as well as to the members of the majority group (Birman & Simon, 2014).
Schools constitute the main acculturation context for immigrant children and youth (Vedder & Horenczyk, 2006; Makarova & Herzog, 2011). “School adjustment can be seen as a primary task, and as a highly important outcome, of the cultural transition process” (Berry, Poortinga, Breugelmans, Chasiotis & Sam, 2011, p. 326). This is also the case for refugee children: the school is the place where they learn the new culture.
Entering a new school system can be a period of highest vulnerability for students and should be better investigated (Birman et al. 2007). For instance, studies have pointed out that minority students have to deal with discrepancies related to the teaching and learning environment and the academic culture (Makarova and Birman 2016). Makarova and Birman (2016) suggest that process characteristics such as teaching and discipline styles influence minority students’ acculturation, and that teachers therefore play a pivotal role in understanding minority youth’s adaptation challenges. In other words, teachers are influential actors on minority students’ acculturation in the school, who can make the school a place where the needs of minority students are recognised and addressed (Hachfeld et al. 2011). Therefore, it is essential to further examine teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards diversity and the way they teach and manage their culturally diverse classroom.
The ecological or contextual approach suggests that the relationship between acculturation and adjustment is shaped by the surrounding context: it happens at different levels such as home, school, society or the workplace (Birman and Simon 2014; Salo and Birman 2015). Castro and Murray (2010) combine resilience and ecodevelopmental frameworks and place the risk and resource factors during migration at the levels of the individual, family, community and society. However, school as a level of analysis and the question of what specific risk and resource factors at this level can support or hamper minority youth adjustment is left out of their framework.
Focus of the study:
Previous studies provided a systematic review of minority youth’s acculturation orientation in relation to their adjustment outcomes in the school context (Makarova and Birman 2015) and on the characteristics of the school environment influential for minority youth’s adjustment in the school context (Makarova and Birman 2016). However, there is a lack of systematic review of empirical research that focuses on the role teachers play in minority students’ acculturation and their school adjustment in the school context. This leads to the following research question: How can teachers support or hamper minority students’ school adjustment in schools of the receiving countries?
Berry, J. W. 2006. “Contexts of acculturation”. In Cambridge handbook of acculturation psychology, edited by Sam, D. L. and J.W. Berry, 27-42. Cambridge: University Press. Berry, J. W., Y. H. Poortinga, S. M. Breugelmans, A. Chasiotis, and D. L. Sam, eds. 2011. Cross-cultural Psychology. Research and Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Birman, D., T. Weinstein, S. Beehler, and W. Chan. 2007. Immigrant Youth in U.S. Schools: Opportunities for Prevention. The Prevention Researcher 14: 14-17. Birman, D., and C. D. Simon. 2014. “Acculturation Research: Challenges, Complexities, and Possibilities.” In APA Handbook of Multicultural Psychology, Vol. 1: Theory and Research, edited by F. T. L. Leong, L. Comas-Díaz, G. C. Nagayama Hall, V. C. McLoyd, J. E. Trimble, 207–230. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Castro, F. G. and K.E. Murray, 2010. “Cultural Adaptation and Resilience. Controversies, Issues, and Emerging Models”. In Handbook of Adult Resilience, edited by J. W. Reich, A. J. Zautra and J. S. Hall, 375–403. New York, London: The Guilford Press. Hachfeld A., A. Hahn, S. Schroeder, Y. Anders, P. Stanat and M. Kunter. 2011. Assessing teachers’ multicultural and egalitarian beliefs: The Teacher Cultural Beliefs Scale. Teaching and Teacher Education 27: 986-996. Makarova, E., and W. Herzog. 2011. The Integration of Immigrant Youth into the School Context. Problems of Education in the 21st Century 32: 86 –97. Makarova, E. and D. Birman. 2015. Cultural Transition and Academic Achievement of Students from Ethnic Minority Backgrounds: A Content Analysis of Empirical Research on Acculturation. Educational Research 57 (3): 305-330. Makarova, E. and D. Birman. 2016. Minority students’ psychological adjustment in the school context: an integrative review of qualitative research on acculturation. Intercultural Education 27 (1): 1-21. Salo, C.D. and D. Birman 2015. Acculturation and Psychological Adjustment of Vietnamese Refugees: An Ecological Acculturation Framework. American Journal of Community Psychology 56 (3-4): 395-407. Trickett, E. J. and D. Birman. 2005. Acculturation, school context, and school outcomes: A differentiated example from refugee adolescents from the former Soviet Union. Psychology in the Schools 42 (1): 27–38. UNHCR 2016. International Migration. Accessed 11 July 2016, under http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/international-migration.html Vedder, P., and G. Horenczyk. 2006. “Acculturation and the School.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Acculturation Psychology, edited by D. L. Sam and J. W. Berry, 419 – 438. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ward, C. 2008. Thinking outside the Berry boxes: New perspectives on identity, acculturation and intercultural relations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 32: 105-114.
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