Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorHallman, Heidi L.
dc.contributor.advisorMitchell, Nicholas E.
dc.contributor.authorHabtemariam, Samuel Dermas
dc.description.abstractThe global migration across the globe appears to justify the need for theorizing refugee education, as students are part of the migration. The United States is one of the largest refugee recipients in the world (UNHCR, 2018), and a great number of refugee students go to school, even though the enrollment rate of those in postsecondary institutions is not clear due to different methods of categorizing immigrant students who enter U.S. higher education institutions. Asylees and refugees are all categorized under the term ‘immigrant,’ though they have different economical and immigration statuses (Yi & Kiyama, 2018). Even though various studies have been conducted to theorize refugee education with a focus on identity formation of refugee students, most of them have focused on school rather than college level. Studies focused on refugee students’ identity construction emphasize how refugees learn new skills to build up their self-esteem, join a new society, and use their native language and reflect their cultural identities in school (Uptin , 2013; Erden, 2017; Saleh, 2018).

There are a few studies that examined the schooling experiences of refugee students in postsecondary institutions (e.g., Felix, 2016), but little is known about how Eritrean political refugee students negotiate and renegotiate their cultural identity in postsecondary institutions in the Midwest and how schooling shapes their cultural identity. This dissertation study employed case study methodology to explore an in-depth case of how Eritrean political refugee students negotiate and renegotiate their cultural identity in the postsecondary institution landscape. Thus, the case, in this research, was defined as political refugees; more specifically, the case was defined as the ways the political refugee students negotiated and renegotiated their cultural identity. The case was bounded by the 2022-2023 academic year, by Eritrean political refugees participating in the experience, their college and curricula contexts, and the multicultural education policy. Data were gathered through semi-structured interview and focus-group discussion.

Through the theories of cultural reproduction, acculturation/assimilation, biculturalism and transculturalism, six themes were identified. These themes included: 1) negotiating and renegotiating cultural identity, 2) maintaining cultural identity, 3) home culture versus college culture, 4) reflecting refugees’ cultural identity in school, 5) impact of cultural identity on schooling, and 6) culturally related teaching methodology. In relation to the research question of how Eritrean political refugee students negotiate and renegotiate their cultural identity in postsecondary institutions in the Midwest, the participants identified themselves as culturally Eritrean students and thought they were different from the rest of the student populations due to their cultural identity. The participants did not feel a sense of bilingual identity and were not in a position to negotiate and renegotiate their cultural identity, though they admitted that they were pulled to fit in the social, economic, and political structures of the host country. With respect to the research question of how postsecondary schooling experiences shape the cultural identity of Eritrean political refugee students in the Midwest, the college education was shown to have little to do with participants’ cultural identity. The participants did not see their identities, histories, values, and cultural practices in the postsecondary institution in the Midwest. Finally, the study recommends not only the integration of culturally responsive pedagogy to the college education system to make the curriculum inclusive so that the refugee students feel a sense of belongingness, but also having a unique support system for college refugee students, as their learning experiences are different from the rest of the student populations.
dc.format.extent162 pages
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansas
dc.rightsCopyright held by the author.
dc.subjectMulticultural education
dc.subjectEducational sociology
dc.subjectCurriculum development
dc.subjectCulturally responsive pedagogy
dc.subjectEritrean refugee students’ cultural identity
dc.subjectEritrean refugee students’ identity construction
dc.subjectMulticultural education
dc.subjectRefugee education
dc.subjectRefugees’ postsecondary schooling experiences
dc.titleCultural Identity Construction among Political Refugee Students: The Case of Eritrean College Students in the Midwest
dc.contributor.cmtememberRury, John L.
dc.contributor.cmtememberWhite, Steven H.
dc.contributor.cmtememberFoste, Zak H.
dc.thesis.degreeDisciplineCurriculum and Teaching

Files in this item


This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record