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ERIC Number: ED533298
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 231
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-5139-6
Engendering Subjectivities: Narratives of African Immigrant Girls in Public High Schools
Okwako, Betty Akinyi
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
The goal of this study was to illuminate the educational experiences of one of the least researched immigrant groups--African girls. I relied mainly on narratives of four African immigrant girls in public high schools to elucidate how these girls defined their learning environment. Out of school observations were used to supplement in-depth phenomenological interviews. I drew from four theoretical concepts--academic achievement, social and cultural capital and boundary work to elucidate the strategies these four girls used in their attempt to achieve academic success. This study was also about identity. Banks & Banks (2010) assert that in order to understand the academic outcomes of minority students, we have to also know their identification processes. To this end, my goal was illuminate how this group of girls constructed their identity as they navigated high school, and how these processes shaped their academic outcomes. The premise of this study is that African girls are not a monolithic group. While participants in the study share an "African" heritage, they have other distinguishing features which can lead to a range of schooling experiences. African girls can be differentiated by their immigration stories, countries of origins, family background, among other distinguishing factors. In this regard, I argue for the inclusion of diverse experiences in the discussion of girls' education, with the hope that this research will challenge mainstream perspectives that have for a long time taken the experiences of White-middle class girls as the universal experiences of all girls. While this study confirmed challenges faced by immigrant students in school, it also revealed a more nuanced pattern in how these girls viewed and experienced school. Participants acknowledged negative experiences but showed resilience in the face of these adversities. As such, agency became a major determining factor in how they constructed and negotiated their identity within the school context. Finally, in this study, I offer an alternative narrative about immigrant students in public school, who often time are depicted as having negative educational experiences. Participants' narratives showed that while these girls faced challenges in school, they did not dwell in the negative aspects of their schooling. For the most part, these girls were positive about their school, their teachers and peers. Equally, they were optimistic about their future educational and occupational prospects. My hope is that this study will contribute to our understanding on how immigrant students experience school the way they do. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A