Satisfying the basic psychological needs of students with refugee backgrounds: implications for their academic development, school inclusion, and psychological wellbeing

Power, Keith B. (2021) Satisfying the basic psychological needs of students with refugee backgrounds: implications for their academic development, school inclusion, and psychological wellbeing. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis describes a mixed-methods multiple case study that examined students with refugee backgrounds’ basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness (both student and teacher relatedness), and autonomy (Deci & Ryan, 2000, 2008b) relative to their Canadian background peers in a small Canadian urban centre. It also examined school level differences between the students with refugee backgrounds based on whether the students were attending junior high school or high school. The Comprehensive School Health framework (Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health, 2019b) was adopted to understand group differences and to gain insights into how the school system and individual schools were either meeting or thwarting the students with refugee backgrounds’ basic psychological needs, and consequently their inclusion at school. In total, 47 students (25 students with refugee backgrounds and 22 Canadian background students) completed questionnaires that measured their psychological needs. 2x2 ANOVAs showed that the students with refugee backgrounds felt significantly less competent than their Canadian background peers. No significant difference was found between the junior high and high school students with refugee backgrounds’ levels of competence. The junior high students with refugee backgrounds reported feeling significantly less student relatedness compared to the Canadian background junior high students and the high school students with refugee backgrounds. Conversely, no significant difference was found between the high school students with refugee backgrounds and the Canadian background high school students on student relatedness. For teacher relatedness and autonomy, no significant differences were found between the groups. The qualitative data, gathered through researcher observations, document analysis, and 34 interviews with students, teachers, school administrators, and community workers, indicated that the students with refugee backgrounds’ low level of competence was likely negatively affected by many of the school and school system’s policies and procedures, especially as they relate to the early inclusion of these students in mainstream programming without adequate supports. The differences between the junior high and high school students with refugee backgrounds’ sense of student relatedness was likely a reflection of the more welcoming, supportive, and diverse social environment present for the high school students relative to junior high students with refugee backgrounds. Finally, recommendations on how schools and school systems can better support the psychological needs and inclusion of students with refugee backgrounds, especially as they relate to smaller urban contexts, are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/15015
Item ID: 15015
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-353).
Keywords: Students with refugee backgrounds, Psychological Wellbeing, Academic Development, School Inclusion, Self-determination Theory, Comprehensive School Health
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: April 2021
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Refugees--Canada--Psychology; Autonomy (Psychology); Relatedness (Psychology).

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