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Integrating newly arrived students in upper secondary school: School staffs' perceptions and experiences
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies. (Sociologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7024-5789
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies. (Sociologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3596-4809
2018 (English)In: ECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

General description:

Newly arrived immigrant children are entering European countries in unprecedented numbers, putting increasing demands on the educational systems. The challenges for the educational systems vary according to country and relate to the size and composition of the immigrant student population as well as to the countries’ respective history of migration (Levels & Dronkers 2008). In this paper we focus on the Swedish educational system and the recent changes in the curriculum for upper secondary school launched in 2011. The reform altered the preconditions for transition to upper secondary school by significantly tightening the qualification requirements for all students, including the newly arrived students. School reforms are consequential for the staff as well as the students. We are here exploring how such consequences are described by the school staff; teachers, school leaders and liaison teachers in relation to newly arrived students. 

 

Several researchers argue for the need of research on the interpretations of educational reforms and how the reforms are transformed in local contexts. According to Hemmings, the outcome of educational reforms depends on the dynamics in schools related to school structures, cultures, local visions and moral aspects (2012). Other scholars have emphasized the significance of teachers for the implementation of reforms and that teachers’ professional experiences influence educational practices and interpretations of institutional goals (i.e. curricula) (Everitt 2012). We address these issues in our first research question. 

 

There is a growing body of research on newly arrived children’s experiences of school introduction in Sweden. In line with international research, the Swedish research has explored the students’ experiences of schooling and highlighted the importance of supporting relationships in school for successful careers (Skowronski 2013, Marekovic 2016, Suarez-Orozco et al. 2010, Greenman 2013). Research on teachers’ perspectives, on the other hand, highlight the dilemmas involved in reconciling educational goals for these students with national immigration policy (Arnot et.al 2009, Svensson forthcoming) and how teachers’ influence students’ educational choices (Bonizzoni et al 2014). However, research on experiences of teaching newly arrived students also point to the enrichment that is associated with this work (Wigg 2008, Devine 2011). Although extant research is increasing there is a need for research on both the staffs’ meaning-making processes and concrete strategies in daily educational practices. These issues are addressed in our second research question. 

 

The aim of the paper is to describe school staffs’ interpretations of the latest curricular reform for upper secondary school and the consequences for the teachers’ daily educational practices. Our preliminary research questions are: 1) How does school staff describe opportunities and constraints of the new reform in relation to newly arrived students’ educational trajectories? 2) How does the staff manage the new requirements put forward by the latest reform in their daily educational practices?  

 

Theoretical framework 

Our point of departure is the emerging theoretical framework that emphasizes the importance of understanding interpretative processes and social interaction in research on institutions (Hallett 2010). Institutional logics, background knowledge and meaning structures of school as institution and its objectives are subject to interpretation, re-interpretations and negotiations between school staff as well as students in daily educational practices (Fine & Hallet 2014). Teachers and students engage in meaning-making processes on what is important, how goals are interpreted and put into practice, which norms and values that are considered valid. This actualizes issues of the staffs’ perceptions of what educational trajectories may be achievable for the students and the significance of such perceptions in educational and counseling situations. Theoretical concepts that are also of relevance for the analysis are, for example ‘trajectory’ (Elder 1985), and ‘imagined futures’ (Mische 2009). 

 

Methods 

As the aim of the project is to explore school staffs’ interpretations of the latest educational reform concerning newly arrived students, semi structured interviews were chosen (c.f Lamont & Swidler 2012). The study was conducted in one of the largest cities in Sweden and three schools were approached to be included. All three schools are public upper secondary schools. The first school is an upper secondary school offering vocational programmes such as Restaurant management and food, Business and administration, Hotel and tourism, Childcare and recreation etc. The second and third schools are both offering theoretical programmes such as the natural science programme and social science programme. 

 

In total 14 individual interviews with school staff were conducted between May 2012 and June 2014, i.e. 1-3 years after the reform came into force. 3 persons were working as liaison teachers, 5 as tutoring teachers in classes for newly arrived students, 5 were school leaders. Also a municipal coordinator for organizing school introduction for newly arrived students was included. In the interviews with the staff several themes were discussed, such as working life experiences, the main tasks in the school, co-operation with other teachers, consequences of the school reform and the new curriculum and how the students succeed with their studies. The interviews lasted between 1-2,5 hours. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed before analysis.

 

We have chosen to present the analysis by concentrating on the common patterns rather than focusing on differences between the three schools. In other words, we have conducted an across-case analysis identifying commonali­ties across cases (cf. Ayres et al 2003). The analytical procedures embrace several steps commonly used in qualitative analysis in order to identify recurrent patterns and to successively elaborate and systematize the analysis to more specific and distinct categories. The procedures embrace reading and rereading the material at several occasions both individually and in co-operation between the researchers, discussing and sorting the material to different headings, and modifying categories successively. As our approach is inductive iterative, the starting point for our analysis was the empirical material, but theoretical ideas that were grounded in the material were also used to guide and systematize the analytical work. 

 

Expected outcomes

Our initial analyses of the interviews so far reveal three common patterns that will be developed further in the paper: 

  1. Interpretations of the students’ educational aspirations, opportunities and obstacles for achieving the goals. This pattern reveals how teachers assess students’ backgrounds, achievements and aspirations in light of obstacles such as language skills, educational requirements and time frames according to the curriculum. 
  2. Teacher strategies for managing students’ aspirations and obstacles for achievement. This pattern is about various strategies employed by the staff in order to deal with, for example the gap between aspirations and opportunities when it comes to students’ achievements, the pace of studies and imagined future careers. 

 

 

References

Arnot, M., Pinson, H., & Candappa, M. (2009). Compassion, caring and justice: teachers’ strategies to maintain moral integrity in the face of national hostility to the “non‐citizen”. Educational Review61(3), 249-264.

 

Ayres, l., Kavanaugh, K., & Knalf, K. A. (2003). Within- case and across case ap­proaches to qualitative data analysis, Qual Health Res, 13, 871‒883. 

 

Bonizzoni, P., Romito, M., & Cavallo, C. (2016). Teachers’ guidance, family participation and track choice: the educational disadvantage of immigrant students in Italy. British Journal of Sociology of Education37(5), 702-720.

 

Devine, D. (2011). Immigration and schooling in the republic of Ireland: Making a difference?. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

 

Elder Jr, G. H. (1985). Life course dynamics: trajectories and transitions 1968-1980. Ithaca, ny: Cornell University press.

 

Everitt, JG. (2012). Teacher Careers and Inhabited Institutions: Sense-Making and Arsenals of Teaching Practice in Educational Institutions. Symbolic Interaction, 35, 203-220.

 

Fine, G. A. & Hallett, T. (2014). Group Cultures and the Everyday Life of Organizations: Interaction Orders and Meso-Analysis, Organization Studies, 35,1773-1798.

 

Greenman, E. (2013). Educational attitudes, school peer context, and the “immigrant paradox” in education. Social science research42(3), 698-714.

 

Hallet, T. (2010). The Myth Incarnate: recoupling processes, turmoil and inhabited institutions in an urban elementary school. American Sociological Review. 75: 52-74.

 

Hemmings, A. (2012). Four Rs for urban high school reform: Re-envisioning, reculturation, restructuring and remoralization.Improving Schools. 15: 198-210.

 

Jepson Wigg, U. (2008). Bryta upp och börja om: berättelser om flyktingskap, skolgång och identitet.Diss. Linköping : Linköpings universitet, 2009

 

Lamont, M., & Swidler, A. (2014). Methodological pluralism and the possibilities and limits of interviewing. Qualitative Sociology37(2), 153-171.

 

Levels, M., & Dronkers, J. (2008). Educational performance of native and immigrant children from various countries of origin. Ethnic and Racial Studies31(8), 1404-1425.

Marekovic, A-M. (2016). Mot alla odds, i Lund, A. & Lund, S. (red.) (2016). Skolframgång i det mångkulturella samhället. Studentlitteratur AB.

Mische A. (2009): “Projects and Possibilities: Researching Futures in Action” Sociological Forum, 24: (3), 694-704.

Skowronski, E. (2013). Skola med fördröjning: nyanlända elevers sociala spelrum i "en skola för alla".Diss. Lund : Lunds universitet, 2013

Suárez-Orozco, C., Onaga, M., & Lardemelle, C. D. (2010). Promoting academic engagement among immigrant adolescents through school-family-community collaboration. Professional School Counseling, 14(1), 15-26

Svensson, M. (forthcoming). Compensating for conflicting policy goals: Dilemmas of teachers’ work with asylum-seeking pupils in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
school staff, newly arrived students, curriculum, daily educational practices, educational trajectories
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Social Sciences, Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-80718OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-80718DiVA, id: diva2:1290220
Conference
Presented at ECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, September 3-7, 2018.
Available from: 2019-02-20 Created: 2019-02-20 Last updated: 2019-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Sarstrand Marekovic, Anna-MariaNärvänen, Anna-Liisa

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