Date of Award

10-5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Xu, Shijing

Keywords

Arab Canadian students, Arab immigrant students, Canadian high schools, immigrant education, immigrant high school education, minority student education

Abstract

This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of 4 Arab immigrant high school students in the Windsor, Ontario area. Student participants’ time spent in Canada varied from 1 to 5 years; three had attended grade school in Canada prior to enrolling in high school while 1 enrolled in high school immediately upon arrival. Allowing for a broader perspective of Arab immigrant high school students’ experiences in Canadian high schools, narratives of another 3 Arab student supplementary informants are used to enhance the interpretations and discussions. Participants’ and informants’ families emigrated from a number of Arab countries (Somalia, Syria, Kuwait, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan) seeking better life and educational opportunities, to join family and relatives, or to flee war traumas. Student participants identified as either Christian or Muslim and attended Windsor-area Catholic or public high schools. Discussions with student participants and research informants (parents, teachers, and school officials) encompassed multifaceted topics such as home and school life; school environment and climate; stereotypes; school relations; engagement and sense of belonging; and influences both in and out of school that encourage or hinder students’ education, learning, and integration. Using narrative research approach participants’ stories are considered within social, cultural, and historical contexts based on the work of Clandinin and Connelly (2000). Stemming from this theoretical framework, in-depth individual interviews with participants and participatory observation within their lived proximities afforded a better understanding of Arab immigrant high school students’ lived conditions and environments. Individual narratives of students, parents, and teachers provide insight into student participants’ schooling experiences as well as those of Arab immigrant high school students in general. Findings reveal that Arab students’ experiences in Canadian high schools are influenced by their past lived experiences within their home countries and initial immigration experiences; ideologies and beliefs they continue to maintain in Canadian society; family lives and circumstances; and the support (or lack thereof) that students receive in their schools and communities upon their arrival in Canada. The study particularly found issues related to Arab immigrant high school students’ common behavioural trends at school, challenges initially faced at school, coping strategies Arab immigrant students use in their ever-evolving lives, the significant roles of schools in easing immigration-related challenges, and a non-negligible relationship between home and schooling experiences. These individual, family, and societal factors then translate into their schooling experiences in their Canadian high schools and the degree of interaction within their environments. Based on the findings of the study, implications for school and education policy makers are made to enhance the experiences of this segment of Canadian high schools’ populations. Finally, recommendations for further study are made.

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