Schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled sub-Saharan African refugee middle school students in a southwest U.S. state
ABSTRACT This study examined the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled sub-Saharan African middle school refugee students in a metropolitan area of the United States Southwest. The research questions underpinning this study included: What are the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled sub-Saharan African middle school refugee students in a southwestern U.S. state? 1a) How do they view their relationships with their teachers and peers? 1b) Can they identify a teacher or school staff member in their school community who is a significant resource for them? and 1c) What factors contribute to their challenges and successes in their school community? This qualitative study documented and analyzed the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled refugee middle school students, who are relatively new to the U.S. educational system. Purposive and convenience sampling were sources utilized in selecting participants for this study. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used to capture the stories of 10 resettled sub-Saharan African refugee students enrolled in 7th and 8th grade, who have lived in the U.S. not more than 10 years and not less than three years. Among the participants, half were male and half female. They came from six countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia. Findings of the study revealed six major themes: teachers' helpfulness, positive perceptions of school, friends as resources at school, disruptive students in the classroom, need for better teachers, and before and after school activities. Overall, the participants in the study expressed a positive perception of their teachers and their schools, yet presented a dichotomous view of their schooling experiences and perceptions.