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Exploring ESL immigrant students' perceptions of their academic and social integration success Chen, Louis S. C.


This study introduces a different kind of collaborative research whereby two researchers co-design and co-conduct the research and draw their own conclusions from the shared data. The data, gathered using qualitative tools such as surveys, questionnaires, and interviews, was further enriched as a result of having two individuals from different backgrounds interpreting the data. The data collected from 14 university students who were once identified as ESL students in British Columbia, Canada, were transcribed then analyzed using NUD*IST qualitative computer software. The focus was on their perceptions of ESL programs, immigration process, and socio-cultural factors that contributed to their academic and social integration success. Participants' own words centered mostly on their relationships with families, friends, and ESL teachers as major factors contributing to their success. ESL programs served as their safety nets as the majority suggested that their journey into social and academic mainstreams had undesirable effects on their experiences. Three major factors were identified as having both helped and hindered their adaptation and integration into Canadian school and society: family influence, bicultural identities, and segregation. Results from this study suggest a number of theoretical and practical implications. First, this study need to be replicated in different contexts using a longitudinal approach to document how immigrant ESL students construct their experiences within and outside of school overtime. Secondly, research need to aim at understanding the tension between students' home and school cultures and encourage involvement and collaboration between ESL students, parents, and teachers. In addition, examining how ESL students interact with their mainstream counterparts may provide helpful guidelines for schools to foster an environment whereby unity and support exist between the two groups. This study concludes with both researchers' reflection on each other's thesis. This step led to a critical reexamination of their interpretation. Differences and similarities emerged from this process. The similarities both researchers shared provided a greater degree of validity and reliability to this project. On the other hand, the differences that emerged served to enrich the data by providing two perspectives to the same problem.

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