Our project investigates the language and literacy education of refugee and migrant background children and youth. The study addresses three urgent needs: (a) to help education systems and community groups understand how to support refugee and migrant background children and youth to catch up to their same-age peers in school as quickly as possible; (b) to support these children and youth, for whom limited prior schooling, limited first language literacy and challenges of academic language learning (compounded by socio-emotional challenges) often present a barrier to learning, social adjustment and academic success; and (c) to develop innovative policies and pedagogical practices that engage with the digital, multimodal literacy practices of today’s children and youth.
- What do teachers, principals, system leaders and settlement workers identify as unique language and literacy learning needs and challenges of refugee and migrant background children and youth in elementary and secondary school classrooms?
- What characterizes literacy practices of refugee and migrant background children and youth? That is, what are their everyday and school-based literacy practices across visual, audial, and linguistic (multiple language) modes?
- What are the most appropriate and empowering school responses, including language and literacy policies and pedagogical practices, to enable refugee and migrant background children and youth to meet cross-curricular expectations and use language and literacy for social impact and identity affirmation?
The researchers carried out educator survey/questionnaire and follow up expert interviews to provide information about their professional context and background, current approaches to language and literacy education with refugee and migrant background children and youth, related issues and challenges, and professional learning and programming needs.
Subsequently, the researchers promoted cross-site focus group meetings to share knowledge about educational approaches and policies that support refugee and migrant background children and youth.
Subsequently, the researchers engaged in cross-site knowledge mobilization meetings to share information and insights about educational approaches and policies that support refugee and migrant background children and youth.
This phase encompassed critical, multimodal and participatory case studies of students from refugee and migrant background: a) to engage them in documenting their own lives and literacy practices; and b) to collaboratively create teacher-researcher classroom-based inquiry projects, as articulated in the British Columbia subject area curricula, which are relevant to students’ lives, interests, and issues near and far. We used multimodal ethnography and pedagogic techniques such as digital storytelling, writing, photo journals, arts-based activities, film-making, and arts-based performance.
Based on our synthesis of all data collected across Phases 1 and 2, we developed a framework that outlines theoretical principles and pedagogical practices for language and literacy education for refugee and migrant background students in British Columbia classrooms. This synthesis involved analyzing recurrent themes and patterns evident in the key stakeholder interviews and the student case study profiles. Our goal is to craft a foundational framework that speaks to different levels of policy and pedagogical design, practices and resources for identifying and supporting language and literacy learning needs of students from refugee and migrant backgrounds in schools.
Our focus during this phase is consolidating the research outcomes and disseminating findings to academic and public/community audiences. Investigators and graduate students have co-authored manuscripts for journal articles and public media (See publications).
This website showcases a research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Insight Grant no. 435–2017-0338). The study has been reviewed by the UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board (Certificate no. H17-01074), and the procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects.