32 SES 04, Diversity and School Development
Paper/Pecha Kucha Session
For the past three years European countries, including Russia, have been experiencing the European migrant crisis which resulted in an enhanced diversification of European societies (Czaika & Haas, 2014; Schachner, 2017). This requires both immigrants and nonimmigrants of the receiving society to go through acculturation and adaptation processes in order to establish positive interethnic relations. Cultural diversity is clearly reflected in the school climate. Schools represent a stimulating environment for adolescent students to developing ethnic identity and intergroup attitudes. While schools focus primarily on immigrant students’ academic attainment, scant regard is paid to their psychological and sociocultural adjustment (Schachner, Noack, Van de Vijver & Eckstein, 2016). Schools are also often ill-prepared, overwhelmed by challenges posed by diversity (Schachner, Van de Vijver and Noack, 2016), which sometimes leads to inability to address the needs of students from immigrant background, as well as their school peers.
A number of scholars internationally have turned their attention to the question of understanding school climate that supports diversity and inclusion in schools with diversified and large migrant populations (Ladson-Billings, 1994; Roeser, Eccles & Sameroff, 2000; Suárez-Orozco, Pimentel, & Martin, 2009). Almost no research into the problem was initiated in Russia. Culturally Relevant Teaching was a concept proposed by Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994) to describe “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes”. Predictors of academic engagement in schools and factors that facilitate academic adaptation of students (Suárez-Orozco, Pimentel, & Martin, 2009) are also embedded in the school climate studies. Roeser (Roeser, Eccles & Sameroff, 2000) viewed schools as central cultural contexts of human development that affect both academic and non-academic aspects (self-identity, well-being) of “whole persons” across childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood. These works inform the study, but they are not focused on migrant students or multicultural classrooms. Other than leading German scholars Linda Juang, Maja Schachner and their colleagues (Civitillo, Schachner, Noack, Juang, Handrick & van de Vijver, 2016; Schachner, 2017), we are not aware of other teams of scholars focusing specifically on school climate as it relates to adaptation of immigrant students.
The purpose of this project is to further theorize the school climate in diverse schools, adapt a measure of school climate for the Russian context, and examine the impact of school climate on adaptation of immigrant and nonimmigrant students in diverse schools. The research objective is to study the impact of diversity-specific aspects of school context and climate in Russian schools with significant concentrations (more than 30%) of migrant students on adolescent immigrant students’ adaptation and intercultural adjustment.
While in Russia there has been some theoretical work on school climate (Chirkina & Khavenson, 2017) no empirical research has been conducted. One barrier is that no relevant research methods have been developed by Russian scholars. Meanwhile, the measure CCDCS-2 (Classroom Cultural Diversity Climate scale-2) was developed and validated by German education researchers (Schachner, Noack, Van de Vijver & Eckstein, 2016). Within the current project the scale CCDCS-2 is being adapted for use in the assessment of relation between cultural diversity climate in Russian schools and immigrant adolescent students’ adaptation and acculturation process in Russia. The questionnaire consists of 6 scales (Intercultural and heritage culture learning; Colorblindness; Polyculturalism; Positive student intergroup contact; Equality; Critical Consciousness) which are derived based upon the two approaches towards cultural diversity climate in schools: equality and inclusion and cultural pluralism. The questionnaire consists of 31 items. The example items are: At school we learn about the history of the heritage countries of students in my class (Intercultural and heritage culture learning); Students in my class from different heritage cultures are friends with each other (Positive student intergroup contact). An exploratory pilot study was conducted to determine whether cultural diversity climate as conceptualized by Schachner, Juang and colleagues has validity in the Russian context. The pilot study was conducted in one Russian city, Kazan, with 30 immigrant and nonimmigrant adolescent students selected purposively, for maximum variation of countries of origin, length of residence in Russia, gender, and other relevant demographic characteristics. Students are 14 years old on average and attend grades 7-8. Further, a sample of 1000 students from different Russian regions with diverse populations will be obtained. Sampling from diverse regions will allow us to include those with different immigrant populations and migration histories to ensure that study findings are broadly applicable. SPSS v.25 was employed for analysis of quantitative data.
One of the main expected research outcomes is adaptation and validation of so far the only tool set to measure cultural diversity school climate in the Russian context. Based on collected and analyzed data we will be able to monitor and evaluate the likely impact of diversity-specific aspects of school-context and climate in Russian schools on adolescent immigrant students’ intercultural adjustment, psychological, social and academic adaptation. Expected research results will be significant not only for the field of teacher education and psychology but also for education policy and society. For education practitioners and policymakers, research on diversity policies and climate provides interesting new insight into possible points for intervention. Whereas the ethnic composition of schools depends on hard to control factors, such as the ethnic composition of the neighborhood and parental decisions of where to enroll their children in school, diversity policies and climate within schools are easier to change. Such changes, combined with teacher training initiatives, may help to alter teacher beliefs and shape interactions both between students and teachers and among students themselves. Teacher training initiatives are most effective when they are part of teacher education at university.
Civitillo, S., Schachner, M., Noack, P., Juang, L., & Handrick, A., & van de Vijver, F. (2016). Towards a better understanding of cultural diversity approaches at school: A multi-informant and mixed-methods study. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction. Chirkina, T.A. & Khavenson, T.E. (2017). Школьный климат. История понятия, подходы к определению и измерение в анкетах PISA. Вопросы образования, (1). Czaika, M., & Haas, H. (2014). The globalization of migration: Has the world become more migratory?. International Migration Review, 48(2), 283-323. Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). What We Can Learn from Multicultural Education Research. Educational leadership, 51(8), 22-26. Roeser, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2000). School as a context of early adolescents' academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings. The elementary school journal, 100(5), 443-471. Schachner, M. K., Noack, P., Van de Vijver, F. J., & Eckstein, K. (2016). Cultural diversity climate and psychological adjustment at school—equality and inclusion versus cultural pluralism. Child development, 87(4), 1175-1191. Schachner, M. K., Van de Vijver, F. J., & Noack, P. (2016). Acculturation and School Adjustment of Early-Adolescent Immigrant Boys and Girls in Germany: Conditions in School, Family, and Ethnic Group. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 0272431616670991. Schachner, M. K. (2017). From equality and inclusion to cultural pluralism–Evolution and effects of cultural diversity perspectives in schools. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 1-17. Suárez-Orozco, C., Pimentel, A., & Martin, M. (2009). The significance of relationships: Academic engagement and achievement among newcomer immigrant youth. Teachers College Record, 111(3), 712-749.
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