Term of Award

Spring 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

David Alley

Committee Member 3

Scott Beck

Abstract

This inquiry explored the experience of three female immigrant students as they acculturated (learned a new language and culture) and enculturated (maintained the heritage language and culture) while developing new identities in an English-speaking public high school in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. I used a cross-cultural narrative inquiry method (He, 2003) to examine how these students' experiences of exclusion, marginalization, and neglect impact their school success. Cross-cultural narrative theory, which is grounded in the works of Clandinin and Connelly (2000) and Dewey (1938), helped me delve into the everyday life experiences of these female immigrant students. I turned to the works of Crager (1996), He (2003), Soto (1997), and Valenzuela (1999) to critically examine the experience of these students by positioning a specific story into diverse cultural and linguistic contexts. The participants in the study were from different cultures and backgrounds, but each has faced bias and prejudice in the schooling process. They have been ridiculed about their language and culture heritages as well as excluded from the higher academic course of study, clubs, and sports. Their aspirations of continuing education in college have been negated, and consequently, they are settling for careers that most likely will be low paying with few opportunities for advancement. There is much literature on the trials and tribulations of immigrant students, but few studies that allow the student's voice to be heard. Through their own words, they exposed an intolerant educational system, one contrary to the jargon of an equal education for all. As more immigrant students are silenced through practices of subordination and control, studies such as this become increasingly relevant and necessary. I advocate for a culturally responsive pedagogy where immigrant student voices will be heard, not prohibited or silenced; where their cultural and linguistic heritages should be respected and valued, but not devalued or neglected. I hope that more members of the society will work together to help develop such a pedagogy to provide equal educational opportunities for all students to thrive in their schooling and lives.

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