The Multiple Worlds of Ghanaian-Born Immigrant Students and Academic Success
by Alex Kumi-Yeboah — 2018
Background/Context: The multiple worlds model is defined as the ability of students to connect, manage, and negotiate to cross the borders of their two worlds to successfully transition through different everyday worlds of school, family, and peers. Prior research has linked multiple worlds such as school, teacher, family, and peers to the academic success of immigrant students. However, there is a dearth of research about how Ghanaian-born immigrant youth (African-born immigrant youth) integrate the experiences surrounding their multiple worlds of families, schools, peers, and teachers in their daily lives to affect academic achievement.
Purpose/Objectives/ Research/Focus of Study: This qualitative study explores the factors associated with immigrant students from Ghana to strategize how to combine their multiple worlds of families, schools, peers, and teachers to affect academic engagement within contexts of school and classroom situations. Another aim was to was to explore teachers’ perception and understanding of the sociocultural and past educational experiences of immigrant students from Ghana. I analyzed two interviews (face-to-face and focus group) transcripts (students and teachers).
Population/Participants/Subjects: Forty Ghanaian-born immigrant students and 10 certified teachers in the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area were recruited and interviewed. I interviewed 40 students (n = 23 male and n = 17 female) in 10th grade (8 students), 11th grade (20 students) and 12th grade (12 students) and 10 teachers including 4 Whites, 2 African Americans, 3 Latino/as, and 1 Biracial.
Research Design: The study used a qualitative research design by using open-ended semistructured and focus group interviews in which the participants were comfortable in the interviews. With the assistance of the Ghanaian Immigrant Association in Atlanta and the school district, I sampled for Ghanaian-born immigrant students (students who were born in Ghana with one or two African-born parents and who migrated to the U.S.) and teachers to participate in the study. All data from semistructured and focus group interviews were transcribed and analyzed to address the research questions of the study.
Findings/Results: The study findings revealed seven emergent themes: desire to succeed in school, managing two worlds and relationships with teachers and peers in the classroom, crossing boundaries with educational opportunities, managing transitions in school, and the role of parents.
Conclusions and Recommendations: The findings suggest that Ghanaian-born immigrant students undergo several complex transitional paradigms combining two worlds of African culture, education, family values, learning new cultures, and adapting to new school settings to achieve success in American educational systems. Overall, Ghanaian-born immigrant students developed strategies to manage two worlds in school, which shaped their perspectives and helped them to cross boundaries as stipulated in the students’ multiple worlds model. Therefore, it is important that teachers, educators, and school administrators understand the social, cultural, and educational backgrounds of these immigrant students as not much is written about them with regards to their transition to schools in the United States educational system.
Keywords: Ghanaian-born immigrant students, multiple worlds model, crossing boundaries, managing two worlds, managing two worlds with peers and teachers, Ghanaian immigrants, transition to new school, navigate new worlds, African immigrants
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