04 SES 08 E, Working With Refugee Students: New Directions And Some Reflections
The rising numbers of refugees in Germany particularly affects school systems, as a great number of refugees are of school age and have to be provided with adequate schooling. According to the Geneva Convention 1951, all children are guaranteed the right to education (Mafaalani & Kemper, 2017). Refugee children and young adults are seen as a vulnerable group with a diverse range of special needs. At the same time, many of them possess prior education and academic knowledge (i.e., rich multilingual knowledge), as well as exceptional resiliency resulting from their life circumstances (Seukwa, 2006). The concept of risk is especially relevant in the context of refugee students as they can be marginalised or excluded based on various aspects, such as learning difficulties, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and cultural background.
As a reaction to the enormous increase in immigration in recent years, separate classes—called Internationale Vorbereitungsklassen (International Preparatory Classes [IPCs])—for new immigrant children and young people with little or no German language skills have increasingly been established in most federal states (Brüggemann & Nikolai, 2016). IPCs are supposed to prepare immigrant students for admission into German mainstream classes. Apart from German language lessons, students also receive subject specific lessons in mathematics, English, science, etc. After a period of 12 months, students are usually transferred into mainstream classes and receive additional German language support for a few hours per week. In Hamburg, special classes are increasingly being set up for refugee students, in which they are specifically prepared for secondary school exams. These are usually designed for a duration of one to two years and lead to a formal degree (Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung, 2019). In this case, students are not included in the mainstream classes, but are schooled for another one to two years in separate classes, before they have the chance to enrol on vocational training, at upper secondary education and so forth.
Studies have shown that on the macro level, the German school system makes it more difficult for new immigrants to gain access to a successful educational pathway and thus does not do justice to the appeal of inclusion. The separation of students into mainstream classes and IPCs is particularly problematic, because the students are considered only under the criterion of differences (Panagiotopoulou & Rosen, 2017).
I draw on an extensive discussion on the teaching and learning of mathematics in multilingual classrooms that highlights social, cultural, and linguistic aspects of mathematics education (Barwell, 2009; Gorgorió & Planas, 2001; (Barwell, 2009; Gorgorió & Planas, 2001; Moschkovich, Wagner, Bose, Rodrigues Mendes, & Schütte, 2018) and the need for continuing studies in terms of inclusion, equity, and social justice in mathematics education. Others researchers highlight the socio-political dimensions of mathematics education and how students are excluded due to social, cultural, class, gender, and race reasons (Jablonka, Wagner, & Walshaw, 2013).
This leads to the following questions:
1) What do refugee students need to succeed in school and what are the barriers to their success at school, particularly in mathematics? How do they overcome these barriers?
2) Which risk factors of successful mathematics learning can be derived from this?
It is of mayor importance to develop an inclusive educational environment that tackles any kind of barrier that could affect the children’s right to education of high quality in mathematics and beyond. As risk is a professional dimension involving not only threats and dangers but also opportunities and positive results, students were interviewed about their needs and their strategies to overcome potential barriers.
The study is embedded in the project ‘Mathematics and Refugees’ at the University of Hamburg, a subproject of the state-funded research network ‘Hamburg Numeracy Project’. The research network focuses on (adult) numeracy practices and their use of everyday mathematics, focusing on particularly vulnerable groups (e.g., refugees and asylum seekers, the over-indebted, and disabled people). The subproject focuses on the mathematical education of refugee students in IPCs as part of a basic mathematical education, which enables them to be numerate in (young) adult life (Geiger, Forgasz, & Goos, 2015). The presented explorative study is oriented towards the grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2015; Flick, 2014). The sample of the study consists of teachers (n = 7) and students (n = 13) from three comprehensive schools. For the data collection, I used different methods such as classroom observation and guideline-based interviews with teachers and three to five students from each class. The interviews were transcribed and qualitatively evaluated using software. As described above, this paper emerges from a larger research project. I focus particularly on the students’ perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics in IPCs. (The teacher interviews are addressed in my forthcoming paper ‘Beliefs and practices of teachers in mathematics classrooms with refugee students’). The interviews focused on the students’ experiences with mathematics in their country of origin and in Germany. Furthermore, they were asked about their experiences in mathematics classrooms, their needs, and possible barriers that they have to deal with, as well as their strategies to overcome these. The sample consisted of refugee students from Syria and Afghanistan with ages ranging from 13 to 18 years, who were schooled in IPCs that prepared them for the secondary school exams. All of them had sufficient knowledge of German to enable them to participate in the interview.
The classes mentioned here are part of an exclusion process on the macro level (school organisational level), as immigrant students are taught separately after they have already acquired knowledge of German. This also reflects students’ opinions as some students mentioned that they would rather be schooled in what they called ‘normal’ classes (mainstream classes) with German students. This statement is based on constructive notions of normality that contradict diversity and seem to be internalised by some students and make them feel excluded from the mainstream school system. Furthermore, the study seems to indicate that from the students' point of view at the classroom level, language and mathematical content are perceived as a central barrier in mathematics teaching in IPCs. The students especially refer to the language as a barrier to understanding problems in the mathematics books adequately, particularly when they have to do homework or work alone. Some students also emphasise that it is difficult to understand oral explanations from the teacher. In addition, students describe that they have developed their own strategies to meet their needs and overcome the challenges: they use their mobile phones to translate the language, watch YouTube videos that explain mathematical content, and participate in extracurricular tutoring. The outcome of the presented study is twofold: On the one hand, the first results indicate a structural exclusion, as refugees are taught separately from German students in mathematics and in general. On the other hand, there are barriers at the teaching level, such as language and unfulfilled needs, including more understandable mathematics teaching materials from the perspective of the students. Since students describe their own strategies for dealing with these risks, it is also necessary to further monitor the extent to which these risk factors affect students’ school performance.
Barwell, R. (Ed.) (2009). Bilingual education and bilingualism. Multilingualism in mathematics classrooms: Global perspectives. Bristol, Buffalo: Multilingual Matters. Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung (2019). Grundlegende Informationen für Lehrkräfte in Vorbereitungsmaßnahmen für neu zugewanderte Kinder und Jugendliche an Hamburger Schulen, from Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung: . Brüggemann, C. & Nikolai, R. (2016). Das Comeback einer Organistationsform: Vorbereitungsklassen für neuzugewanderte Kinder- und Jugendliche, from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: . Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. L. (2015). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (Fourth edition). Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, Boston: SAGE. Flick, U. (2014). An introduction to qualitative research (Ed. 5). Los Angeles, Calif., London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington, DC: SAGE. Geiger, V., Forgasz, H., & Goos, M. (2015). A critical orientation to numeracy across the curriculum. ZDM, 47(4), 611–624. Gorgorió, N., & Planas, N. (2001). Teaching Mathematics in Multilingual Classrooms. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 47(1), 7–33. Jablonka, E., Wagner, D., & Walshaw, M. (2013). Theories for Studying Social, Political and Cultural Dimensions of Mathematics Education. In M. A. Clements, A. J. Bishop, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & F. K. S. Leung (Eds.), Springer International Handbooks of Education: Vol. 27. Third International Handbook of Mathematics Education (pp. 41–67). New York, NY: Springer. Mafaalani, A. e., & Kemper, T. (2017). Bildungsteilhabe geflüchteter Kinder und Jugendlicher im regionalen Vergleich: Quantitative Annäherungen an ein neues Forschungsfeld. Z'Flucht : Zeitschrift für Flüchtlingsforschung : the German journal for refugee studies, 1(2), 173–217, from http://dx.doi.org/10.5771/2509-9485-2017-2-173. Moschkovich, J. N., Wagner, D., Bose, A., Rodrigues Mendes, J., & Schütte, M. (2018). Language and Communication in Mathematics Education: International Perspectives. Springer eBooks, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75055-2. Panagiotopoulou, A. & Rosen, L. (2017). Zur Inklusion von geflüchteten Kindern und Jugendlichen in das deutsche Schulsystem, from http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/kurzdossiers/258059/inklusion-in-das-schulsystem?p=all. Seukwa, L. H. (2006). Der Habitus der Überlebenskunst. Zugl.: Hamburg, Univ., Diss., 2005, Waxmann, Münster, New York, München, Berlin.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.