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Title page for ETD etd-11302012-225902

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Nwosu, Oluchi Chinyere
Author's Email Address oluchi.c.nwosu@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-11302012-225902
Title Examining Multiculturalism, Agency, and Identity Development Within the Cultural Diversity School
Degree Master of Science
Department Community Research and Action
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dr. Sandra L. Barnes Committee Chair
Dr. Torin Monahan Committee Member
  • refugees
  • education
  • multiculturalism
  • resettlement
Date of Defense 2012-10-02
Availability unrestricted
This work reflects an exploratory ecological study of a charter school (CDS) serving refugee, immigrant, and native-born American students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Bronfrenbrenner's (1977; 1986) ecology of human development, Berry’s (2009) acculturative taxonomy theory, and Rudmin’s (2009) secondary culture acquisition hypothesis are used to explore how CDS constructs their highly diverse educational environment. A triangulation of methods is used to assess the physical, social, programmatic, and pedagogic environment of CDS. Findings suggest that CDS is a multicultural acculturative environment as described in Berry’s (2009) model. Multiculturalism, as practiced at CDS, lays the foundation for the values the school aims to transmit to its students to shape their perceptions of themselves and others. The school’s main curriculum conveys a worldview that closely resembles Bronfenbrenner’s (1977; 1986) ecology of human development. Thus elementary school students are taught from a young age how structural forces contextualize their experiences, as well as how individual agency and collective action can result in social change. For refugee and minority students, such perspectives are likely to empower them to recognize and confront discrimination, as well as resist pressures to internalize derogatory perceptions of themselves or their efficacy that they are likely to encounter in mainstream culture.
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