The Refugee Early Childhood Acculturation and Integration into US Education Systems: Exploring Resettlement Organizational Leaders’ Perceptions and Experiences
Chapter 1: Introduction
Many families throughout the world are forced to leave their home countries. Due to the movement into a new country, the children face challenges such as learning a new language, different culture, and a different education system (Wang et al., 2019). Both nonprofit and governmental organizations are designed to help support these refugee families and their children. However, such organizations often fail to meet the educational needs of the children due to alternative priorities such as basic living and documentation (Unangst & Wit, 2020). Refugee resettlement services’ leaders have a significant impact on early childhood education, thus prompting a look into the leaders’ perspective on the issue. However, the majority of previous research tends to center on the refugees’ perspective, leaving the resettlement service leaders’ experiences unknown [A1] (Wang et al., 2019). Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the roles, perceptions, and experiences of refugee resettlement organizational leaders in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools.
Background of the Study
The number of refugees continues to grow significantly across the world. In 2017, the [A2] figure reached 258 million, up from 173 million in 2000 (United Nations, 2017). By the end of 2019, approximately 79.5 million people were forced to leave their countries of origin worldwide, of which 40% were children [A3] (UNHCR, 2020). While citing the definition agreed upon by the International Community in 1951, Exodus World Service (n.d.) indicated that a refugee is an individual who has been forced to leave his or her homeland and cannot return due to the experience of persecution or the fear of being persecuted. More recently, Tuliao et al., (2017) defined a refugee as an individual who has been forced to relocate from their country of origin or residence because of armed conflicts, including war and violence.
Resettlement processes allow for the transfer of refugees from their home countries into new countries where they are often provided with permanent residency. Currently, the United States (US) is the top resettlement country, which places pressure on US resettlement organizational leaders to support refugee families [A4] (UNHCR, 2020). Resettlement organizational leaders are charged with [A5] promoting[A6] the acculturation and integration of refugee families into their new environment and managing [A7] the resources to help the refugees make a better life for themselves (UNHCR, 2020). This resettlement process includes the acculturation and integration of refugee children into the US education system. The following sections provide[A8] an overview of the relevant research in the following order: (a) the needs of young refugee children in the United States, (b) acculturation and assimilation of refugee children, (c) the role of resettlement organizations, (d) the roles of the resettlement organization leaders in childhood education, (e) challenges of refugee organization leaders as they work with young children and (f) Covid-19 and resettlement organizational leaders.
Needs of Young Refugee Children in the United States
Young refugee children encounter various obstacles when settling in another country, such as cultural and linguistic challenges and challenges with a new education system and new [A9] expectations (Capps et al., 2015). In adapting to the US culture, [A10] many of these children must [A11] learn English as a second language (ESL). ESL learners usually perform poorly in academics compared to their peers due to language barriers (Baldwin, 2015). This poor performance is linked to limited [A12] oral skills such as phonological awareness (including phonemic awareness), syntactical awareness, and overall comprehension [A13] of verbal and written ideas (Perez & Morrison, 2016). Resettlement service leaders and their experiences are critical in helping children manage their educational [A14] experiences because of their role in promoting young refugee children’s access to the resources and integration into appropriate educational organizations [A15] necessary to address these language and academic [A16] challenges (Collinson & Schenkenberg, 2019).
There is a growing body of evidence highlighting the importance of [A17] engaging with families and their children in early childhood (birth to age eight) produces strong positive outcomes on their communities (Rodd, 2013; Thomas, 2016; Wang et al., 2019). However, children experience challenges when transitioning [A18] to the US education system (Perez &
Morrison, 2016). [A19] One of the key challenges is that the education system is structured differently. [A20] Refugee children, specifically those in early childhood, may also face several [A21] social, emotional and academic challenges. First and foremost, these children may face emotional challenges as a result of traumatic experiences they may have encountered in the past, which manifests in various behavioral issues (Wang et al., 2019). [A22] Some of the social challenges that the refugee children face is that they have problems communicating due to language barriers and sending and receiving messages (Lee et al., 2014). Additionally, the academic drawbacks young refugee children face connects to language differences as well as limited exposure to academic tasks or appropriate cultural and linguistic experiences—both in English and their first language [A23] [A24] (Perez & Morrison, 2016).
Assimilation is a major challenge for refugee children as they integrate [A26] into the US society (Fegert et al., 2018[A27] ). This challenge is partly due to the poor housing facilities that they live in as well as the uncertainty revolving around their residency status (Fegert et al., 2018). As a result, the children often are disturbed and unsettled, which then affects how well they behave and perform in their studies. Assimilation is also affected by the great deal of stress that refugee children have to deal with due to conflicts from their home regions that expose them to cruelty and harsh conditions (Fegert et al., 2018). This then results in mental health disorders, causing further troubles for them.
Acculturation amongst young refugees is also an important consideration with regard to their integration into early childhood education (Bajaj et al., 2017[A28] ). Acculturation is greatly affected by the language barrier that exist while the young refugees strive to learn and integrate into the US society. There may also be a huge gap in language and literacy development because refugee children often have to drop out of school in areas consumed with conflict (Bajaj et al., 2017).
The Roles, Challenges, and Leaders of Resettlement Organizations
Family refugee services provided by resettlement organizations include provision of housing and food, healthcare, counselling, financial support, child based therapy, skills training and development, and workforce development [A29] (Alliance Chicago, n.d.; Exodus World Service, n.d.; Lunneblad, 2017; Morland & Levine, 2016; Refugee One, 2019). The most recent statistics indicated that 85,727 refugees have been trained in English and cross-cultural studies (Exodus World Service, n.d.). In their 2019 annual reports, another organization reported 468 refugee children were assisted with academics, extracurricular activities, and education in general [A30] (Refugee One, 2019).
Providing refugee resettlement services does not go without challenges. One of the major challenges faced by organizations that assist refugees is a lack [A31] of funding, which is an important part of providing children from refugee families access quality education (Anderson & Brandt, 2018; Refugee One, 2019). Another challenge faced by organizations is the lack of resources, such as tutors, teachers, and various resources (Refugee One, 2019; Schorchitt, 2017). In order to address these challenges of funding and educational resources, leaders often turn to government funding and host events in which donations from the general public are collected and volunteers are solicited which are the most efficient and effective ways to assist refugees (Refugee One, 2019; Thomas, 2016).
According to Hurmuzlu (2017), [A32] the examination of resettlement leaders’ perspectives of their roles in working with young refugee children (i.e., birth to age 8) is crucial in determining the services necessary to enhance the acculturation and integration of young refugee children into the US educational system. Some key components of leadership particularly focused on cultural change were highlighted through a case study conducted by Janette and Kieser (2012). According to their findings, leaders who seek to implement lasting changes within communities of different cultural backgrounds need to provide their organizational team with a clear purpose and an agreed upon concise goal. Second, Janette and Kieser (2012) discovered resettlement leaders should [A33] ensure that their organizational team members acquire the knowledge, skill, and experience to achieve the goal they have set out to achieve. In order to achieve these two elements leaders also need [A34] to create a team structure that works in unison, provides resource and morale support, and ensures competent coaching and training needed to complete and achieve their goals (Janette & Kieser, 2012).
Since Janette and Kieser’s (2012) study, researchers [A35] have revealed that strong leadership makes the difference in integrating refugees into their new environment and easing the cultural challenges (Collinson & Schenkenberg, 2019; Hunter & Mileski, 2013). Leadership has many definitions, but the general consensus is that, “Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal” (Kruse, 2013, p. 3). Leaders who follow up and provide constant support show a significant difference in how to support refugee families adjust and experience reduced emotional pressures and strains (Collinson & Schenkenberg, 2019). Thomas (2016) discovered that social inclusion with the support of organizational leaders includes enrolling the children (especially children ages birth to 8) into appropriate educational systems and creating a sense of safety and integration once the children are [A36] in the academic society. [A37]
Within the context of resettlement organizations, Habeeb-Silva (2016) contended that leaders are required to understand the ever changing needs and demands of the refugee families who have young children. Understanding the various cultural needs of the diverse young refugee children as they acculturate and integrate into the US education system is a primary challenge of resettlement organization leaders (Thomas, 2016). Other challenges include the challenges related to children’s transition from one value system to another value system and the maintenance of the family’s original value system [A39] (Ruaudel & Morrison-Métois, 2017; Williams, 2005).
The transition challenge for resettlement organization leaders is supporting families who move [A40] from one value system to another. To support refugee families, researchers spanning over two decades (e.g., Koehler & Schneider, 2019; Williams, 2005[A41] ) have discovered that leaders need to cultivate a team of people within the organization who have a good understanding of the value system from which the refugees are coming from and an understanding of how to merge them into a new value system. However, other researchers have shown that ensuring that their teams have this type of value system knowledge to match every refugee family is a great leadership challenge (e.g., [A42] Lahav, 2016; Record-Lemon et al., 2020).
Maintenance challenges refer to the tendency of refugees to protect their value systems and cultures even when they get to the United States (Williams, 2005). Metcalfe-Hough (2015) discovered it is important for leaders to identify people and volunteers who understand that people may cling to their values and cultures. For example, they have to ensure that they no one violates their cultural interests. The staff who have an understanding of the young refugees’ maintenance challenges should be willing to offer any necessary support and in a manner that shows that, they are mindful of their culture. [A43]
For many refugees, leaving their home countries may be based on crisis and extremely dangerous situations. In these cases, it is important that leaders within organizations are equipped to give support in such situations (Lahav, 2016). According to Lahav (2016) leaders should ensure that there is a supportive community that helps the refugees to adapt to a new way of life. The community should be friendly and avoid rekindling any adverse thoughts that could aggravate the situation. Nonetheless, failing to enact any protective measure could expose the refugees to more threats and discomfort. [A44]
The newest challenge faced by refugees and the leaders of resettlement organizations is the outbreak of the Coronavirus or Covid-19 virus. Refugees who have recently moved to the United States may find themselves in living or working situations that place them at a high risk for contracting the virus (NCRID, 2020[A46] ). Compounding this novel situation is that some refugees may not have access to the healthcare facilities they need in order to protect themselves or have access to the medications they may need (NCRID, 2020). Due to the circumstances that refugee families may have been living in (e.g., the countries they fled from they may have underlying conditions), some refugee families may be at an even higher risk for contracting this virus (NCRID, 2020). Covid-19 may also cause immense emotional stresses and trauma that leads to the development of other health issues (NCRID, 2020). Covid-19 has affected the adoption of children into the US education system due to the need for online learning, because the refugee children may not have access to electronic devices needed for that purpose[A47] . It has also posed a challenged since there are also social distancing rules yet there are limited facilities for education against the high number of children. The new challenges for protecting refugees calls on leaders to embrace more effective mitigating solutions. [A48]
Refugee families struggle once they are in the United States due to different value systems, different culture, linguistic challenges, and drastic life changes (Capps et al., 2015; Kerwin, 2018). These refugee families also struggle because they have very specific needs such as the need for funding to survive and mental health services due to exposure to maltreatment, violence, torture (Brandenberger et al., 2019), and now, Covid-19 circumstances[A49] . Resettlement organizations have designed programs to support refugee families’ needs through the creation of support systems, provision of mental health services, and securing jobs and housing for the refugee families (Taylor et al., 2014; Murray, Davidson & Schweitzer, 2010). The support services provide the basic living needs such as food, shelter, clothing and documentation (Marks, 2014; Lunneblad, 2017). While organizations seek to support refugee families, the children’s needs of attaining quality childhood education amidst different school systems, different language expectations, and educational technology needs [A50] are not being met (Nawyn, 2017; Anderson & Brandt, 2018; Schorchitt, 2017).
From the resettlement organizational leadership perspective, researchers have discovered that these leaders struggle [A51] to meet the needs of refugee families, especially the academic, social, and emotional needs of young children (Habeeb-Silva, 2016; Williams, 2005). To date, however, there is little to no research taking into consideration the resettlement leader perspective and their positive experiences and successes in supporting refugee children in their education.[A52] One reason for this gap may be that researchers have focused more on the perspective of the refugee than the perspective of the leaders in resettlement organizations.
The current study will focus on filling this gap by exploring the role, perceptions, and experiences of three resettlement organizational leaders in promoting young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children’s academic resettlement in the United States and promoting their acculturation and integration into the US education system. This study also seeks to further understand the leader’s perspective on their roles at resettlement organizations and the successes they experience while helping young refugee children resettle and acculturate into the US early childhood education system specifically those enrolled in early childhood centers within Illinois[A53] . The study will contribute crucial information and recommendations related to the leadership processes necessary to foster [A54] young refugee children’s acculturation and educational experiences in the United States. By exploring resettlement leaders’ roles and positive[A55] experiences, the study will generate essential data indicating the specific support leaders provide so that other resettlement organizations and leaders may learn from their successes. [A56]
The general category of leadership theory is adopted as an appropriate theoretical base for examining the role of refugee resettlement leaders as they help young children settle and adjust to life in the US (Sullivan, 2010). Specifically[A57] , Sullivan’s leadership model will be used in this study to focus on leaders’ responsibility in implementing the strategies, including collaborative communication and support that is necessary to achieve desired outcomes. The theory implies that it is suitable for a leader to practice servant leadership. Its main tenet is that the subjects feel appreciated and motivated when their leaders engage them and make them feel worthy (Sullivan, 2010). The theory applies to the study as it guides on the kind of leadership that could benefit the management of refugees.
Sullivan’s leadership model applies to the proposed study based on the need to identify the support mechanisms that refugee resettlement services’ leaders must implement to facilitate young refugee children’s integration into early childhood centers. It also emphasizes the leadership skills needed to address professional and cultural changes that enhance the effective teaching in early childhood center (Sullivan, 2010). Sullivan (2010) uses a few key terms to describe what a leader is; she uses words such as “Power” which should not be viewed in a negative way but seen as the ability to influence someone in a positive way. Some of the most important skills that leaders in early childhood centers should have include: effective communications, building a strong sense of community, and developing a learning environment and the ability to motivate and encourage learners (Sullivan, 2010).[A58]
In order to provide young refugee children with the correct services and methods to transition and acculturate into their new school environments and communities it is important to understand the psychological needs of children, in order to do so Erikson’s psychosocial model will be used. The framework holds that personality forms in a predetermined process through eight recognized phases of psychological development, from childhood to adulthood. The main tenet in the theory is that during the different phases a person encounter a psychological problem which could affect their personality development. This framework covers early childhood stages of development, from birth up to eight years old which influence children’s interaction with the environment and other people (Knight, 2017). It relates to the research as it helps to define the factors that could influence the perceptions of refugees. [A59]
In order to examine the research questions of what leaders of resettlement organizations can do to improve acculturation and integration of young refugee children onto early childhood education centers and primary grade schools Erik Erikson’s model will be used to determine the needs these leaders will need to focus on to enhance the integration and resettlement process. Sullivan’s leadership theory and leadership functions provide great insight into the types of leadership that will be best suited to achieve the needs highlighted through Erikson’s theory when playing a role in early childhood education, acculturation and integration into the U.S education system. Acculturation and assimilation of the young refugees seem to be the most important aspects of the process of incorporating them into their new environment. Erikson’s model demonstrates how the young refugees can develop through the experiences that the go through in a means to be become acculturated and assimilated. The model describes the psychosocial development of human beings, which means that people develop through different stages from childhood to adulthood. The childhood development of young refugees is the most important part of the entire process of trying to describe how the refugees acculturate and assimilate.
A review of selected literature reveals multiple themes associated with young refugee children resettled in the US. However, four themes will be used in this study. They are advocating for young refugee children’s human rights, meeting the children’s learning needs, acculturation into the mainstream society, and integration into early childhood centers. The concept map (figure 1) indicates that refugee resettlement services organizations have a crucial responsibility in advocating for the rights of young refugee children (Richter et al., 2017). These children face a range of challenges, including a culture shock, which refugee resettlement services should address to enhance their meaningful integration into the host country. Other than culture shock, the young refugees also encounter language barrier problems. Such issues hinder them from properly acculturating and assimilating into the new surroundings in which they find themselves. Qualitative data will be essential in ensuring that the study yields the best results that can be applicable in real life situations. Many obstacles stand in the way of the young refugees, which make them unable to incorporate themselves into the culture of their new neighbors once they join the early childhood centers for their schooling. Similarly, early childhood education leaders should address young refugee children’s acculturation needs by designing appropriate accommodations aimed at fostering young refugee children’s potential to excel academically. Moreover, refugee resettlement services leaders stand a better chance of including the families of young refugee children to devise viable approaches to assist them in meeting their acculturation and learning needs.
The examination of leaders’ perspectives of the role of resettlement services in early childhood education is of significant interest to me based on my passion to explore how resettlement organizations work with young refugee children to enhance their integration into early childhood centers or schools. Through my research, volunteering and interacting with some leaders in organizations that work with refugees, I know that resettlement centers make a large effort in finding homes for refugee families, help them to adjust to the cultural norms and some even provide skills training such as English class and basic skills to assist members to gain employment within the United States. Through coincidence, I have met many refugee children, and I have been fortunate enough to hear some of their stories and be a part of their journey to integration within the United States.
For example, in 2017, I encountered a refugee family from the Middle East, with a young child aged four years, she was in the same park as I was, and I had a conversation about her family. They explained their experiences with moving to the United States. The family had relocated from the Middle East and settled in the United States six months ago. After extensive interactions, the mother told me that although initially the child was facing major challenges, such as culture shock and language barriers, he later received support from a local resettlement organization. Such assistance involved identifying an appropriate early childhood center, which focused on delivering child-centered care and education, hence encouraging the young refugee child to participate optimally in early childhood activities. This experience empowered me to choose the topic of the role of resettlement services in early childhood education with the objective of examining leaders’ perspectives.
Another encounter I was fortunate enough to have was through a chance meeting at a World Relief Services office, is that of a refugee situation which involves a family that had relocated from Africa. This family had two young children aged two and six years old. They had settled in the United States one year ago. However, the experience of the young refugee children and their parents was not favorable. The father narrated how it was difficult to find a suitable early childhood center for the children due to language and cultural barriers. He also noted that the family was facing financial challenges, which meant inadequate access to essential services, such as health and education. This scenario strengthened my passion to examine resettlement services leaders’ perspectives on how their organizations can work with refugee families with the aim of providing the support that young refugee children need to gain admission into early childhood centers.
These personal interactions with the topic align with my beliefs and understanding that resettlement organizations must focus on assisting all young refugee children and their families to undergo meaningful acculturation and integration into society. Apart from the narrated encounters, I do not share any connections, identities, or experiences with the participants. Therefore, I believe and hope that the successful completion of the study will generate adequate information indicating resettlement leaders’ perspectives toward the role of their organizations in supporting young refugee children to undergo acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers and schools.
Therefore, the selected study area is crucial in developing adequate knowledge concerning the role of refugee resettlement services in promoting young children’s learning experiences in early childhood centers. It is important to study this area to improve the strategies necessary for effective acculturation and integration of young refugee children into society. While conducting the study, I will remain objective to ensure that all data is credible, valid, and reliable. Additionally, I do not have any personal relationship with the target study participants, hence signifying the potential to complete the study without any subjectivities. Given that this is an educational project; I will complete it while at the University. Nonetheless, it will capitalize on the knowledge acquired so far from literature review related to the topic to ensure quality, rigorous research findings.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the roles, perceptions, and experiences of refugee resettlement organizational leaders in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools. Organizations who provide refugee-resettling services will be defined as those that are involved in the provision of the needs of refugees such as education, healthcare services, education and housing. Organizational leaders will include any leader who is part of the top management of a refugee resettlement organization and not only the successful ones, to get a more realistic understanding of what a variety of leaders think and do.
Primary Research Question: What are the roles of organization leaders in refugee resettlement services in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools?
A qualitative research approach will be selected to ensure the comprehensive, in depth exploration of refugee resettlement service leaders’ roles, perceptions, and experiences in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools. The study will conduct a qualitative research, which entails gathering and examining non-numerical information such as audio, text, or video (Creswell & Poth, 2018) to [A61] gather relevant data Qualitative approach is the preference since there will a greater understanding of the specific roles of resettlement leaders as well as their challenges to come up with effective recommendations for leaders involved in integration of refugee children into early childhood education. [A62]
The proposed study will include three different organizations based in a large mid-western city that have experienced positive results in supporting refugee children with acculturation and integration into the US education system and the leaders of these organizations. Two methods of data collection will be used: online interviews (via Zoom), and essay artifacts. Interviews and artifacts are appropriate data collection methods based on the nature of the study, which may require one to converse with others to acquire relevant information (Creswell & Poth, 2018). [A63] The documents will explain the services the organizations provide. This information then will be used during the interviews to elicit more specific data (Creswell & Poth, 2018).
Research artifacts are considered research generated materials that can contain valuable information to a study (Creswell & Poth, 2018; Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). The three leaders will be asked to write essays to describe their roles as leaders, their leadership style, and their experiences promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood education centers or schools. These essay artifacts will give insight into what leaders are doing and their processes of helping young refugee children in the process of acculturation and integration into new school environments and communities. Content analysis will be used to identify insights from the artifacts related to the individual participant’s contextual experiences and meanings related to the phenomenon and specifically the research questions (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016).[A64]
Three interviews each lasting twenty minutes will be conducted with each leader via Zoom to comply with recommended Covid-19 policies and practices. [A65] The researcher will prepared an interview guide (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016), which will be geared towards obtaining responses on the leaders’ roles, the positive experiences they have encountered, and the challenges they have faced in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools. [A66] The researcher will plan with each participant to determine an appropriate time for the interviews. Overall, analysis of the data will be through thematic analysis, which will involve revisiting the research questions [A67] and conducting an initial round of descriptive coding with the interview data that focuses on the meaning being conveyed related research questions (Miles et al., 2014). In a second round of coding, the researcher will combine like codes, from the interviews and artifact data, into groups. Once grouped, the researcher will then name and define the resulting themes (Miles et al., 2014).[A68]
Acculturation: It is the process through which people experience psychological and cultural change (Lincoln, Lazarevic, White et al., 2016).
Assimilation: It is the understanding of a society often through an unintended process involving interaction between minority and majority groups (Hamilton, 2016).
Asylum seekers: Individuals who claim to be refugees but whose claim has not been fully evaluated (Bansak et al., 2018).
Directive Leadership. A style of leadership where direction, guidance, monitoring and feedback are given regularly and throughout the performance of a task (Sullivan, 2010).
Early childhood. Early childhood refers to the period lasting between birth and eight years during which young children undergo significant growth and brain development (UNESCO, n.d.)
Effective Leadership. The ability to encourage a person or group to grow in self-sufficiency and independence (Sullivan, 2010).
Leader. A leader refers to a person who has the capacity to influence other people toward the accomplishment of a specific goal (Miscenko et al., 2017).
Early childhood centers. Early childhood centers refer to agencies focusing on the teaching of children from birth to eight years old (Bakken et al., 2017).
Facilitative Leadership. A leadership style in which the leader provides means, resources, authority and responsibility to act in the best possible interest of those whom they have been entrusted to lead (Sullivan, 2010).
Resettlement services organization. This refers to a non-profit organization working with the US government based on a private-public partnership to help refugees who enter the country through the United States Refugee Admissions Program (CORE, n.d.).
Home country: The country from which asylum seekers are fleeing because of conflict or natural disasters (Wagner, 2013).
Immigrant: An individual who moves to another country for permanent residence (Bansak et al., 2018).
Integration: It refers to mixing people or groups of individuals who were formerly separated in terms of culture and language, resulting in a homogenous and peaceful social relation among them (Bansak et al., 2018).
Leadership Development. The process by which one’s ability to change, influence, grow and achieve are strengthened (Sullivan, 2010).
Refugee: An individual who flees a home country to another country for safety because of conflict or natural epidemics (Wagner, 2013).
Resettlement country: A country that offers refugees with legal and physical care, including the right to enjoy civil, political, social, and cultural rights (Bansak et al., 2018).
Servant Leadership: Is a leadership function where leaders put the needs and goals of others before the needs and goals of themselves (Sullivan, 2010).
Situational Leadership Is a function that changes when situations and circumstances change (Sullivan, 2010).
Style of leadership. A style of leadership is the way in which a person carries their leadership position, or the way in which a person leads (Sullivan, 2010).
Transformational Leadership: A leadership function in which both the leader and follower are developed and changed for the better. It is a leadership style that is constantly needed to address change and uncertain times (Sullivan, 2010).
This study focuses on the roles, perspective and positive experiences of leaders in resettlement organizations and their work with young refugee children to integrate them into early childhood education. Chapter 1 presented the focus of the study by describing the background of the study, highlighting why this study is important and some of the research that has already been conducted within supporting refugee families through resettlement organizations and their leaders. The challenges that resettlement organizational leaders face were detailed. The problem, purpose statement, and research questions were presented. Chapter 1 also provided the theoretical framework that informs the study and the researchers positionality to the topic. An overview of the methodology and the rationale for these decisions is presented. Lastly the definitions of terms are provided.
Chapter 2 offers a combined review of previous studies surrounding the current topic, which identifies gaps found within that literature. It describes conflicts found within the literature and discusses the knowledge teachers currently have and their perceptions on play and learning in depth and presents an overall view of the common programs and philosophies on play based learning found within preschools. The second chapter’s conclusion provides a conceptual framework that was used to discuss the findings of the study. Chapter 3 presents the methodology used within this study. It explains the research design, the variables within the study, the setting in which the study takes place, the participants and the reliability and validity of the methods and instruments used to conduct this study.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Education is a human right, which every child should exercise without facing any discrimination due to ethnic, racial, disability status, or gender differences. In contemporary society, early childhood centers have a duty to develop learner-centered programs for young children to achieve their optimal potential. Early childhood centers play a significant role in fostering teaching and providing care to young children from birth to eight years, hence promoting their social, emotional, and intellectual development (Hedefalk et al., 2015). The early childhood centers recognize that young children are experiencing rapid growth and development, thus requiring adequate support to attain holistic development. For example, young children need a strong foundation for developing self-esteem, social skills, and positive perspective of the world (Britto et al., 2017). Therefore, resettlement services leaders must focus on providing adequate support systems to enhance young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers for meaningful education outcomes.
This literature review is based on the research question regarding the role of refugee resettlement services in providing interventions for young refugee children to enhance their academic performance in early childhood centers. With the continued influx of immigrant families into the US, refugee resettlement services leaders should explore and provide the services necessary to help young children to be successful in early childhood education centers. The chapter follows a thematic approach to cover essential areas related to the research question.
Various leadership theories apply to the current topic to explore leaders’ perspective of the role of resettlement organizations in supporting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. Sullivan (2010) covers different leadership models, including transformational leadership, situational leadership, and servant leadership. These leadership theories are explore below to determine their relevance to the study topic.
Transformational leadership is adopted in various contexts, including resettlement services, to promote service delivery to clients. This theory focuses on changing the leader and followers into better people, hence fostering task performance (Sullivan, 2010). The model focuses on leaders’ responsibility in implementing the strategies, including collaborative communication and support, necessary to achieve desired outcomes. According to Ghasabeh et al. (2015), transformational leadership allows leaders to initiate significant transformations in their organizations, hence leading to the development of new solutions and approaches to various problems. The model applies to the proposed study based on the need to identify the support mechanisms that refugee resettlement services leaders must implement to facilitate young refugee children’s integration into early childhood centers. It emphasizes the improvement of leadership skills address professional and cultural changes with the view of enhancing effective teaching in early childhood centers. Early childhood centers have the responsibility to provide empowering, encouraging, and supporting learning settings for young children (Sullivan, 2010). These aspects are crucial in fostering young refugee children’s effective integration into early childhood education centers to enhance their performance.
The transformational leadership theory is adopted in the proposed study to examine the leaders’ perspectives of the services necessary to enhance young refugee children’s integration into early childhood centers. In line with the model, leaders should stress on the implementation of child-based programs aimed at fostering young refugee children’s overall performance (Talan & Bloom, 2011). According to Oppedal and Idsoe (2015), social support services are crucial for the effective acculturation and improvement of young refugee children’s welfare. As a result, examining resettlement leaders’ perspectives is crucial in determining the support systems that young refugee children need for them to undergo meaningful acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
Situational leadership theory is another important model that aligns with the study topic. It indicates that various factors and circumstances in a given situation tend to influence leadership practice (Sullivan, 2010). For instance, according to Sullivan (2010), leadership may arise based on the place, time, and circumstances, hence shaping the leader’s roles. This model aligns with the study topic as it requires leaders to respond to the needs of young refugee children to ensure their acculturation and integration into early childhood settings.
Servant leadership allows leaders to focus on the welfare of other people. It indicates leaders’ interest in serving others. According to Sullivan (2010), servant leaders in early childhood education encompass those leaders who consider themselves as serving fellow workers, children, and their families. Such leaders do not primarily focus on their needs and objectives, but rather on the needs and goals of other people (Sullivan, 2010). Consequently, the theory aligns with the proposed study based on the need to examine resettlement leaders’ perspectives of the roles of their organizations in promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and assimilation into early childhood centers.
Erik Erikson’s psychosocial model applies to the proposal based on the need for resettlement leaders to understand the stages that children undergo as they develop. The first stage involves the trust versus mistrust stage, which takes place between birth and one year. In such a stage, the infant’s trust is shared by dependability and care quality (Jones & Waite-Stupiansky, 2017). The second stage involves autonomy versus doubt and shame, which occurs during early childhood. It entails children’s development of independence. Thirdly, the initiative versus guilt stage occurs in preschool years, hence allowing children to assert their control and power over the world. Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage that occurs during early childhood education years in which children become proud of their abilities and achievements (Jones & Waite-Stupiansky, 2017). The examination of these stages is crucial in developing the knowledge necessary to develop relevant resettlement services for young refugee children. For example, resettlement leaders must understand the changes occurring in different ages to ensure child-centered education and care.
Additionally, the psychosocial model also covers for older children and adults, which do not apply to the early childhood context. However, only the first four stages are relevant to this study based on the need to explore how resettlement leaders assist young refugee children to undergo acculturation and integration into early childhood education centers. The first four stages are important to the study as they directly relate to the growth and development of young children, including young refugee children. They indicate the specific milestones that occur during early childhood years, hence allowing resettlement leaders to align their services with the needs of young refugee children.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is another important model for examining the services necessary to foster young refugee children’s effective acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. In line with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, resettlement leaders should understand young refugee children’s specific needs to ensure their overall wellbeing. The theory covers physiological needs, including food, water, and warmth as individuals’ basic needs (Reinking, 2019). Young refugee children may present these needs due to their concerns about housing, food, and transportation (Lonn & Dantzler, 2017). Additionally, the second category of needs involves safety needs, such as personal security. Young refugee children may present fears about their safety, hence requiring adequate support to enhance their welfare (Losoncz, 2016). The model presents crucial ideas necessary in the design of interventions for individuals struggling with various issues, especially young refugee children with trauma histories, language barriers, and acculturation challenges (Lonn & Dantzler, 2017). As a result, resettlement leaders must examine the services required to address these challenges with the view of enhancing young refugee children’s acculturation and effective integration into early childhood centers.
Similarly, belongingness and love needs are crucial needs, which cover various aspects related to friendship and families (Lonn & Dantzler, 2017). This area requires refugee resettlement leaders’ attention to determine the services needed to enhance young refugee children’s acculturation for meaningful interactions within society and educational settings. Additionally, self-esteem needs encompass the desire for achievement, independence, and status (Lonn & Dantzler, 2017). Resettlement leaders’ perspectives will be crucial in determining the services necessary to address these needs with the objective of enhancing young refugee children’s sense of self-worth. Moreover, self-actualization needs cover the necessity to attain one’s full potential (Reinking, 2019). This area is important in examining the services that resettlement leaders should offer young refugee children to achieve their optimal performance in early childhood centers. Therefore, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory provides a strong foundation for exploring the needs that resettlement services leaders must focus on when designing programs for young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
Young refugee children face various challenges, which influence their performance outcomes. According to Fegert et al. (2018), refugees demonstrate high risks for mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and deficient social skills. Consequently, affected children may experience major challenges when trying to cope with social, family, and school life. Additionally, the children may encounter difficulties in their assimilation into a new society. Such difficulties include discrimination where the refugee children do not feel part of the new environment in which they are supposed to start a new life and socialize with their newly found neighbours. Assimilation into the new cultural practices becomes extremely challenging when the refuge children cannot enjoy their stay with other children around them due to the idea that they are culturally illiterate in terms of adopting to the new way of life. Such issues may have significant detrimental effects on young refugee learners’ educational achievements (Bajaj et al., 2017). Therefore, resettlement services leaders must identify the relevant approaches necessary to address young refugee children’s needs to enhance their acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers to foster their active involvement in learning programs, which include preparation programs that are necessary for impacting knowledge in children (Ficarra, 2017). Without relevant interventions, many young refugee children will continue to experience significant barriers in their educational processes, hence resulting in persistent poor performance.
Acculturation and assimilation processes have over time proved tough for young refugees to undergo. According to Bartlett et al. (2017), young refugees face difficulties abandoning their “original norms” in favour of adopting those of the dominant groups in the regions in which they migrate. As such, the relationships they foster with their new friends and neighbours are barely ones that can help them feel at home. The effects of the slow adaptation to life in a new environment are often felt at schools. The young refugee students find it difficult to learn since they can barely communicate with their fellow students, as well as the teachers. Apart from language being a problem, the relationships they foster with their teachers and fellow students is not as helpful as they should be.
The rate at which refugee students learn is determined by how fast they can undergo the acculturation and assimilation processes. According to Sheikh & Anderson (2018), refugee groups that are less acculturated seem to possess less formal education. The effect of not being able to acculturate and assimilate as fast as possible is that young refugees begin playing the catching up game where they become the ones trying to follow up education during their older ages. At the period when they should be learning, they often are not able to due to the idea that they can barely comprehend the processes that take place at the centers in which they are designated to begin their education. Hence, the concepts of acculturation and assimilation are pivotal to the adaptation of young refugees to their new life in new environments.
The refugee issue has received significant attention in various studies. Tuliao et al. (2017) describe a refugee as an individual who has been forced to relocate from the country of origin because of armed conflicts, including war and violence. Similarly, refugees may be individuals who fear prosecution due to their religious beliefs, association with a particular social group, nationality, or political opinions. These issues underlie the continued growth of the refugee population, including young refugee children, in the US and globally. For instance, statistics indicate that more than 154,600 young refugee children from 113 countries of origin had settled in the US (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Additionally, while citing UNHCR (2016), Tuliao et al. (2017) state that more than 65.3 million people around the globe had been forced to flee from their homes by the end of 2015. Such a figure represents a significant increase from 16.7 million reported in 2013. Therefore, resettlement leaders have a role to play in providing the services necessary to enhance the increasing population of young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers.
The study by Tuliao et al. (2017) indicates that the largest populations of refugees came from war-prone countries such as Somalia, Syria, Congo, and Afghanistan. The leading destinations for the displaced populations include the USA, Australia, and Canada (Dryden-Peterson, 2015). For instance, in 2015, the US accepted at least 84,000 refugees from several nations, including Burma, Iraq, and Syria. Those figures demonstrate that the refugee challenge is a significant issue affecting millions of people globally, hence the need for strategic solutions. For instance, once displaced children join early childhood education centers in foreign countries, they present varied social, emotional, and economic needs, which refugee resettlement leaders should address to enhance their acculturation and optimal participation in learning programs.
Furthermore, early childhood education centers across the US have admitted young refugee children from different parts of the world. However, according to Koyama and Bakuza (2017), learning institutions have not adequately explored the experiences linked to the young refugee children’s acculturation. Resettlement services organization can help with these challenges by designing programs aimed at addressing young refugee children’s needs to ensure effective acculturation and integration into early childhood centers, which essentially address discrimination and oppression issues (Killian, et al., 2018). Therefore, resettlement services leaders must focus on delivering quality services to improve young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
Young refugee children face various psychosocial issues that must be considered to ensure their effective acculturation in the US. According to Fegert et al. (2018), children who have relocated from their home countries due to social violence, war, or family-based abuse, among other traumatic experiences, tend to demonstrate significant risks for higher incidences of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional disorders. Generally, violent acts, including armed conflict, torture, or abuse, have considerable harmful impacts on victims compared to the effects of accidents or natural hazards (Fegert et al., 2018). In such incidences, the frequency of exposure to traumatic experiences influences the possibility and severity of PTSD. For instance, whereas an asylum-seeking family may be affected by traumatic events such as torture, incarceration, the murder of a family member, or exile, children’s traumatizing experiences may include being witnesses or subjects of domestic violence (Wagner, 2013). Consequently, these incidents require resettlement services organizations to develop and offer services aimed at helping young refugee children to undergo positive adjustment and integration into new early childhood centers.
Besides, after relocating to a new country such as the US, young refugee children tend to encounter other critical challenges, which influence their social-emotional welfare. For instance, they may experience poor housing, an insecure residency status, and difficulties integrating into a new culture. These issues hinder young refugee children from participating effectively in learning activities, leading to their minimal performance compared to early childhood groups (Gilhooly, 2016). Poor housing implies that a refugee child cannot have a better environment at home in which to reside. Consequently, the effect is felt at school when a child can barely concentrating on his or her learning process due to the hardships he or she undergoes while at home. Therefore, resettlement organizations must develop strategies and interventions aimed at helping young refugee children to experience positive acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
Moreover, high incidences of stress contribute to cases of mental health disorders among young refugee children. For instance, in their assessment of refugee populations in Germany, Fegert et al. (2018) found that 26% of young refugee children were aged six years and below, while 33% were aged between 7 and 14 years. In addition, within a population of refugees who had escaped from conflict regions, such as Syria and Iraq, at least a third of the children demonstrated PTSD symptoms (Fegert et al., 2018). The highest scores in mental health problems were evident in depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit, and social withdrawal. Similarly, the study indicates that the highest rates of mental health issues occurred among families that settled in western countries. The diagnostic outcomes of PTSD suggest that mental health issues affect at least 50% of the refugee population with young refugee children displaying such challenges through behavioral problems and developmental delays, among other stress-related symptoms (Kirova et al., 2016). Consequently, effective resettlement services should focus on addressing the identified challenges to enhance learner’s acculturation and participation in early childhood education programs.
Besides the above issues, young refugee children manifest several associated behaviors, which affect their learning and achievement rates. The specific patterns include difficulties in focusing on tasks to ensure their effective completion. They also demonstrate significant levels of fatigue associated with their lack of adequate sleep (Bajaj et al., 2017). In some situations, they may try to avoid some tasks. Moreover, such children tend to report cases of irritability, physical ailments, impaired memories, and extreme levels of worry related to potential harm to themselves or others. They may also remember their traumatic experiences and develop extreme levels of distress and worries about separation from caregivers and parents (Bergset, 2017). Refugee resettlement services leaders should understand that children with such behavioral issues are more likely to be experiencing denial, disturbing memories, nightmares, insecurity, and pervasive anxiety (Bergset, 2017). Such knowledge is necessary to ensure the development of relevant interventions to improve young refugee children’s welfare in early childhood education centers.
Challenges Faced by Young Refugee Children
Young refugee children encounter significant challenges, which impact negatively on their academic performance. Firstly, settlement problems are critical issues undermining young refugee children’s assimilation to new societies and early childhood education centers. Several factors contribute to settlement challenges (Bajaj et al., 2017). They include the prolonged stay in refugee camps, inadequate health care services, and the lack of formal education, hence indicating that such children have literacy and language deficiencies in the first language and English or other languages. Such challenges undermine young refugee children’s welfare and acculturation in the US. For instance, deficient language skills cause major communication barriers for young refugee children (International Rescue Committee, 2013). Additionally, such children face challenges linked to serious physical and emotional development because of their exposure to war and other violent acts
, involving the loss of a parent or caregiver. They also report cases of isolation, poor self-esteem, and loss of identity (New et al., 2015). Therefore, without meaningful resettlement interventions, young refugee children may fail to develop the skills necessary to succeed in early childhood education centers. On the same note, poor academic performances are caused by the lack of better communication skills. Whenever refuges find it hard to learn English, then the effect is that they end up failing to communicate properly (Bajaj & Bartlett, 2017). Communication does not only involve passing across messages. It also entails the ability to interpret a message and execute the commands that the message contains. In a classroom, it becomes difficult for a refugee child to comprehend what he or she is being taught because of the difficulty in interpreting what their teachers. Hence, the poor performances of refugee students can be justified by their inability to understand and, therefore, interpret messages.
Secondly, adjustment issues are a significant problem affecting young refugee children’s performance in early childhood education centers in the US. The adjustment challenges may occur at one or more of the family, individual, school, or community levels. At the family level, the adjustment issues are linked to several factors, including communication challenges, delayed integration into society, financial status, separation from the extended family, and parents’ involvement in multiple jobs. Similarly, on an individual level, the child may encounter adjustment problems due to language barriers, problems in developing self-esteem and identity, different family and cultural values, change in social-economic status, and emotional challenges (Mendenhall, 2018). Such issues interfere with the state of mind of the children thereby making it difficult for them to concentrate on their education. Failure to communicate makes the whole situation traumatic, which results in a situation where the refugee students begin to experience a loss in confidence (Fruja Amthor & Roxas, 2016). The result of such traumatic experiences as being unable to communicate properly are some of the issues that necessitate the learning of English language for refugee students. These problems cause an overall difficulty in adjustment to the new environment, as well as an unfamiliar culture. The essence of teaching refugee students English language is to make sure their process of adjustment does not become too difficult to handle. Other challenges include difficulties adjusting to a new early childhood education center’s practices and code of conduct and the loss of internal control, which results in the child feeling like a victim of situations. These difficulties extent to the mental health of the children thereby making them experience mental health shortcoming (Marshall et al., 2016). Therefore, resettlement organizations must address such challenges to enhance young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
Differences between Immigrant and Young Refugee Children’s Needs and Experiences
Resettlement services leaders must understand the differences between immigrants and refugees to ensure effective support services for young refugee children. For instance, whereas immigrants settle their personal businesses and issues before relocating to a new country, refugees usually flee from their home country without settling personal matters. Additionally, for immigrant children, education remains largely uninterrupted (Due & Riggs, 2016). However, education for young refugee children undergoes significant interruptions and may be postponed or delayed because of the violence and wars in the home country, which is in most cases the primary cause of their fleeing to other nations (Arar, et al., 2019). Therefore, resettlement leaders must consider young refugee children’s specific challenges to ensure their acculturation and meaningful engagement in early childhood education programs, to ensure that children can smoothly fit into the new society (Killian, et al., 2018).
Equally, immigrant families usually have adequate time to prepare for societal and educational transition. Such preparation allows them to develop an awareness of the host country’s culture. In contrast, young refugee children and their families experience an abrupt transition to a new country, leading to cases of uncertainty and confusion (Lau et al., 2018). As a result, exploring resettlement leaders’ perspectives is necessary to consider the transitional challenges that they should address to ensure young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers for optimal performance.
Besides, other differences indicate that immigrant families normally remain intact, hence allowing children to continue interacting with their family relatives and caregivers. Young refugee children may lack the family aspect due to the loss of caregivers or parents to war. Similarly, whereas immigrants are likely to benefit from arrangements related to accommodation, health care access, and food, young refugee children may face critical challenges obtaining such services, hence their difficulties in adjusting to new educational settings (Koyama & Bakuza, 2017). Therefore, based on the explored issues, leaders of resettlement organizations should consider the interventions needed to promote young refugee children’s acculturation and transition into new educational contexts while promoting their overall welfare.
Resettlement organizations must understand the stages of adjustment to determine the best services aligned with young refugee children’s needs. Despite the differences in individuals’ responses to new experiences, young refugee children usually undergo four adjustment stages. Each stage has an aspect of silence linked to the lack of vocabulary necessary for a young refugee child to respond in the English language. This makes participation of such a student in class reduce significantly and that is detrimental to his or her performances. The issue of language acquisition comes in at this point, as refugee students make it difficult for their instructors to make decisions. The challenge arises when instructors become unaware of what they can do to help the refugee students when they begin to fail to respond in English. Teachers in schools find it hard to come up with a special program that takes care of the refugee students in terms of teaching them the English language (McBrien et al., 2017). Such becomes an obstacle to the adjustment process of the refugee students, which ultimately hinders their progress of ever acculturating into the American population. Additionally, the silence may occur because of the emotional transition accompanying young refugee children’s integration into new social and cultural contexts. Other factors causing silent periods during the adjustment process include feelings of inadequacy associated with the lack of knowledge of the norms that guide communication (Alam & Imran, 2015). Additionally, refugees may feel embarrassed about having to depend on other people for communication or translation. Nonetheless, in spite of such issues, young refugee children and their families must go through the following specific phases of adjustment as they make meaning of their new community.
Firstly, young refugee children undergo the honeymoon stage, which encompasses several traits related to adjustment. They include curiosity, eagerness, hope, fascination, excitement about a new life, and foreignness. However, they demonstrate minimal identification with American culture (Chao et al., 2017). They also develop anxiety related to their future. Consequently, refugee resettlement services leaders must explore and understand the learners’ cultural diversity and backgrounds to obtain the information needed for improving their performance.
Secondly, refugee families and children go through the hostility stage, which lasts for up to six months. In this stage, the realities of resettling in a new society become apparent. For instance, most refugees, both children and adults, tend to experience a significant culture shock, which influences their social lives (Bartlett et al., 2017). Although young refugee children may move around in the new place to develop an awareness of their environment, they recognize that the location is dissimilar to their home in different ways. For instance, food customs, people, neighborhoods, and the traditions of doing tasks are different. Consequently, they may develop hatred for their new residence and begin thinking about going back to their home country.
Based on the cultural shock evidenced in the hostility stage, young refugee children may feel strange in their new early childhood education centers. They may also have difficulties engaging in meaningful verbal communication because of language differences (Zecca & Mazzei, 2018). Language differences make it difficult or refugee parents to locate better schools for their children, as they always try to find a school where the students will understand better, in vain. With a clash in the cultures exhibited between the Americans who are natives and the refuges, it becomes tough to harmonize the communication skills and strategies from both cultural backgrounds (Hansen-Thomas & Chennapragada, 2018). Resettlement services are, therefore, necessary for refugees because language barrier sometimes makes it difficult for them to access crucial services in the education sector, as well as in other spheres of life. Language seems to be the primary problem that refugee students face when they get into the United States and begin to seek education. A lack of English language skills is problematic to the refugee children in terms of their communication with others, something that makes life more difficult for them (Evans & Fitzgerald, 2017). A slow rate of second language retention may also hinder their socialization in the new society (Evans & Fitzgerald, 2017). Other factors arising in the hostility stage include distractions linked to family challenges such as unsettled family life. Additionally, confusion about American social expectations, values, and norms may cause frustrations among young refugee children and their families. Similarly, challenges such as depression, withdrawal, behavioral difficulties, cultural disorientation, and inadequate attention are likely to hinder young refugee children’s transition to a new culture (D’Souza et al., 2016). As a result, resettlement services leaders must examine the factors contributing to hostility and culture shock in young refugee children to develop the strategies needed to enhance their adjustment to new settings.
Besides, the third stage of adjustment entails the reality awareness phase in which refugees relax in their new environment, hence accepting change. In such a phase, refugees start resolving and accepting their feelings related to the tension between new and old experiences (Kortam, 2018). They appreciate their new home and start engaging in interactive activities aimed at finding friends. This allows them to recognize the positive aspects of their new experiences while accommodating the new and old aspects of life (Seethaler-Wari, 2018). With the continued adjustment, refugees may demonstrate several traits indicating their meaningful integration into society. They include effective skills in the use of conversational English language, significant peer influence, attitude and value changes, behavioral challenges, and parent-teen tension. Similarly, the family may experience some economic stability linked to a parent’s job opportunity (Due et al., 2015). Nonetheless, refugee resettlement services leaders will be required to address perspectives related cultural and value differences influencing early childhood learners’ adjustment to new settings to promote their academic performance.
Lastly, the home stage, which entails integration, involves the young refugee children’s realization that they are in the US to stay. Such a phase may take several years, with some possible instances of failure. For instance, young refugee children may demonstrate irregular responses or reactions to classroom settings and activities because of their cultural values, conditioning, beliefs, or attitudes, which are significantly different from those of other learners. Nonetheless, during the home stage, refugees may portray several traits indicating their meaningful adjustment to the new location. For instance, they appreciate cultural symbols linked to their new and old homes (Kim, 2015). They also communicate proficiently in English and their first language besides perceiving themselves as members of a multicultural society. Other aspects include attaching value to friendships involving individuals from different backgrounds, engaging in learning and community-based activities, and identifying with the host nation’s culture while maintaining their original identity (Dryden-Peterson et al., 2017). Therefore, refugee resettlement services leaders should explore the roles that they must play to enhance each young refugee child’s adjustment to new social and school values.
Resettlement organizations were created to deliver the services necessary for the effective integration of refugees, including young refugee children, into the new society. They operate in various cities to provide basic services to refugee families, especially young children (Morland & Levine, 2016). They usually connect refugees to services that they need as they start a new life in the US. The services provided vary depending on different factors, such as age, family size, and the resettlement site (Steimel, 2017). In the first 30 days, the resettlement organizations offer services aimed at promoting refugees’ capacity to start a new life (Cultural Orientation for Refugees (CORE), n.d.). For instance, they may meet basic living costs and pay other expenses directly to enhance transition into society. However, if the resettlement services cannot be adequately addressed within 30 days, the organizations can extend such a period up to 90 days (CORE, n.d.). Therefore, resettlement leaders must focus on delivering quality support services within the specified timeline to ensure young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers.
Refugee resettlement organizations should develop adequate strategies aimed at providing the necessary support to traumatized refugee families. They work with relevant agencies, such as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) to coordinate services and activities necessary for refugees’ integration into society (“United States Resettlement Partners” n.d.). As a result, the organizations have a major role to play in promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and societal integration, which influence learners’ academic performance in early childhood centers. The examination of such leaders’ perspectives of the role of resettlement organizations is crucial for the development of comprehensive solutions to the challenges affecting such children.
Besides, refugee resettlement services should consider the supportive mechanisms needed for the treatment of PTSD and other disorders affecting refugee families and children. Young refugee children can benefit significantly from timely care and services aimed at providing them with relief from traumatic experiences (Schweitzer et al., 2015). For instance, leaders may consider implementing several interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is beneficial for the treatment of psychosocial problems (Fegert et al., 2018). Therefore, resettlement organizations’ leaders must explain the strategies they have taken to address the aforementioned issues and ensure young refugee children’s effective acculturation.
In addition to formal psychosocial interventions, resettlement organizations should explore the techniques needed to develop supportive settings for young refugee children. For instance, the leaders may consider providing additional support aimed at promoting young refugee children’s language skills (Wellman & Bey, 2015). The provision of such support services is also crucial to ensure young refugee learners’ effective integration into early childhood education centers (Wiseman & OíGorman, 2017). Therefore, resettlement services leaders will address the support systems required to foster young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers.
The literature review covered above has demonstrated the different challenges facing young refugee children and their families as they settle in host countries. Study has shown that refugees usually experience detrimental and traumatic events linked to hostile events in their home countries. Consequently, they develop PTSD and anxiety, among other social-emotional problems, which undermine or delay their meaningful integration into a new society (Sullivan & Simonson, 2016). For instance, despite fleeing to new regions with the aim of escaping from danger and harm, refugee families end up having trouble when undergoing a transition to new cultural, value, and early childhood education centers (Lepore, 2015). This literature review has covered extensive details necessary to address the gap related to the specific roles that refugee resettlement services leaders should accomplish to promote young refugee children’s performance outcomes. The target population comprises young refugee children joining early childhood centers in Illinois, USA. Therefore, with a qualitative research approach, the current study will collect data from relevant participants consisting of refugee resettlement services leaders to determine the approaches needed to enhance young refugee children’s achievement levels.
Based on the explored literature, young refugee children face significant challenges that affect their education. Such a group usually encounters barriers linked to the prolonged stay in refugee camps, violent and detrimental experiences, and limited access to educational opportunities. Many also demonstrate psychosocial challenges, which undermine their academic performance. For instance, apart from their traumatic experiences, young refugee children demonstrate issues related to insecurity, self-identity, and adjustment in a multicultural context (Spiegler, Sonnenberg, Fassbender, Kohl, & Leyendecker, 2018). As a result, refugee resettlement services leaders have a role to play in identifying the opportunities for improving young refugee children’s integration and performance in early childhood centers.
Moreover, after resettling in host countries such as the USA, young refugee children encounter more challenges associated with unrealistic expectations, language barrier, and inadequate prior education, which cause more barriers to education. Other factors, such as stereotypes and discrimination, may also undermine their assimilation and transition to new early childhood education centers. Nonetheless, young refugee children tend to undergo four crucial adjustment steps, which resettlement services leaders should explore to offer refuge children the support they need to ensure meaningful acculturation and integration into society and early childhood education centers. Consequently, resettlement services leaders’ capacity to recognize young refugee children’s needs as early as possible is important to improve such children’s success rate.
Additionally, the literature review has presented cultural challenges as some of the key issues delaying young refugee children’s integration into new early childhood education settings. Refugee families usually experience a major culture shock, identity crisis, and tension related to the resistance of a new culture. In such cases, early childhood education centers provide a platform for challenging young refugee children’s values and traditions. They also support the acculturation of such learners to American customs and practices. While struggling with their acceptance in the host nation, young refugee children develop the capacity to adapt as much as they can. Such adaptation may create tension between the new cultural values and those of the home country. Overall, this study will examine how the resettlement organizations serve, educate, and prepare the children to meet their academic needs, socially, emotionally, and culturally to enhance their adjustment and performance in the early childhood centre.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the roles, perceptions, and experiences of refugee resettlement organizational leaders in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools. To address the phenomenon adequately, this chapter presents the problem statement, research questions, research methodology[A69] , research design, and study population and sample selection. Other elements include instrumentation and sources of data, validity and reliability, trustworthiness, data collection procedures, data analysis procedures, ethical considerations, limitations, and summary. These areas are crucial in ensuring effective data collection to address the study topic.
Many reasons contribute to the struggles that refugee families face when they get into the United States in a means to seek a better life. Refugee families struggle once in the United States due to different value systems, culture, linguistic challenges, and drastic life changes (Capps et al., 2015; Kerwin, 2018). These refugee families also struggle because they have very specific needs such as the need for funding to survive and mental health services due to exposure to maltreatment, violence, or even torture (Brandenberger et al., 2019). Resettlement organizations have designed programs to support refugee families’ needs through the creation of support systems, provision of mental health services, and securing jobs and housing for the refugee families (Taylor et al., 2014; Murray, Davidson & Schweitzer, 2010). The support services provide the basic living needs such as food, shelter, clothing and documentation (Marks, 2014; Lunneblad, 2017). While organizations seek to support refugee families, the children’s needs of attaining quality childhood education amidst different school systems and languages from their originating countries are not being met (Nawyn, 2017; Anderson & Brandt, 2018; Schorchitt, 2017). The issue of language is essential in that refugees often find themselves under difficult circumstances since they have to learn English as a second language to better their chances of understanding their new environment (Bartlett et al., 2017). Learning the English language presents a huge challenge to refugees who get into the United States. The problem of language trickles down to the academics of refugee children, as they cannot seem to comprehend stuff easily. The drawbacks concerning language barrier, are a clear indication of the overall struggles that refugee, especially children, go through.
Primary Research Question: What are the roles of organization leaders in refugee resettlement services in promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools?
- What are resettlement organization leaders’ perspectives and experiences related to promoting acculturation and integration of young refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools?
- What challenges and successes do resettlement organization leaders experience in supporting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood education centers or schools?
The proposed study will use a basic qualitative design[A73] to facilitate data collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation. The basic qualitative study is derived from phenomenology, constructivism, and symbolic interactionism to examine how individuals interpret their experiences (Worthington, 2013). According to Merriam and Tisdell (2016[A74] ),[A75] a basic qualitative research focuses on uncovering and interpreting meanings that individuals attach to their lives and experiences. [A76] In this way, the basic qualitative design will be essential for the exploration of how resettlement leaders’ perspectives of the role of resettlement organizations in fostering young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers. The qualitative information gathered include perspectives, ideas, and values related to the role of refugee resettlement services in promoting young refugee children’s integration into early childhood centers (Shannon-Baker, 2016). The qualitative design is beneficial as it gives comprehensive data for the exploration of the research phenomena related to the role of resettlement organizations in fostering young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. Therefore, the basic qualitative method in the proposed study will lead to the identification of issues that leaders of refugee resettlement services should address to enhance children’s integration into early childhood centers for optimal academic performance. Besides, the qualitative approach will provide the chance to interact with the leaders and know their perceptions towards their roles, as well as save the researchers from examining large volumes of quantitative data, which may take much more time to assess.
The qualitative research design is aimed at pointing out the roles, experiences, and perceptions that refugee resettlement organizational leaders have in a means to promote acculturation and integration of young refugees into early childhood centers. This design provides a comprehensive analysis of the role and perceptions of the organizational leaders. This design is ideal, as it examines and tests the relationships that exist regarding young refugees being acculturated and integrated into early childhood centers and schools.
The settings proposed for the research process involves three refugee resettlement services agencies located in Illinois.[A79] For resettlement service agencies to be considered for the proposed study, agency must be dealing with refugees, and make considerable effort to aid their resettlement. [A80] These criteria are required to maximize the leaders’ ability to explain their experiences promoting acculturation and integration of young (birth through eight years of age) refugee children into early childhood education centers or schools[A81] . Securing access to the agencies would require prior application to avoid any inconveniencies. [A82]
The sample will include three leaders, one selected from each agency. The participants sought will be those able to provide information regarding their role and experience related to promoting young refugee children’s engagement into US early childhood education centers or schools. According to Malterud et al. (2016), when participants hold more information relevant to the study, a small sample size may be adequate for the study. Due to the small sample size, thick descriptions and data triangulation will be used to justify a sample of three refugee resettlement services leaders. [A83]
A purposive sampling procedure will be used to identify information-rich study participants. The sampling strategy is appropriate to ensure access to the information relevant to the research problem, hence expanding the knowledge related to the enhancement of young refugee children’s academic transition into the United States[A84] . The researcher will implement the purposive sampling to arrive at the most qualified sample that can address the research questions (Etikan et al., 2016). Purposeful sampling involves selecting information-rich participants to generate data that can allow the researcher to learn about issues of central importance in relation to the study phenomena (Mills et al., 2010). The prospective participants for this study will meet the following criteria: (a)[A85] have at least three years of experience working with refugees, (b) have the knowledge of the social, emotional, [A86] and cultural issues influencing young refugee children’s learning experiences, and (c) have successful record of all data[A87] . The experience is necessary to recognize the leadership styles needed to improve young refugee children’s integration into early childhood centers for optimal performance (Bergset, 2017). Based on their leadership roles and experience within the agencies, the participants meeting the criteria are believed to have [A88] the knowledge about best practices and interventions necessary to improve young refugee children’s engagement in school activities.
- [A89] .
Sources of Data
The data collection methods will involve the use of interviews, documents, and written essay artifacts of three leaders will be used to gather relevant data. [A90] Each of the methods will [A91] be crucial in covering the phenomenon related to the leaders’ perspectives of the role of resettlement services organizations in addressing young refugee children’s needs to ensure their effective acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers.
The three leaders will address questions related to their perspectives of the role of resettlement organizations in promoting the acculturation and integration of refugee children into early childhood centers. Their responses will generate narratives indicating the services delivered to address young refugee children’s needs. The extensive coverage of such areas is crucial to ensure adequate support for young refugee children as they settle in their new environment.
The participants will write short essays covering their perspectives of the role of resettlement organizations in promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. I will give the leaders a prompt included in appendix B and ask them to develop succinct essays indicating their perspectives of the role of resettlement agencies in facilitating young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. The essays will present their diverse viewpoints, beliefs, and perceptions of the support systems needed to achieve the aforementioned objective.[A93]
Researcher-generated documents will be used in the study to facilitate the collection of appropriate data to address the research question. The documents will mostly comprise of the study plans and information about what procedure follows which one. [A94] According to Merriam and Tisdell (2015), researcher-generated documents are prepared by the researcher or by participants for the researcher before the commencement of the study. They serve an essential purpose in allowing the researcher to develop a better understanding of the situation, participants, or the events under study (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). As a result, generating such documents will be integral in gaining an insight into the resettlement leaders’ perspectives of the role of their agencies in promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into society and early childhood centers.
Interviews will be an essential part of the study, as they will be vital in obtaining first-hand information from the participants. The interviews will be conducted via zoom to ensure that the prevailing health challenge is managed. The importance of interviews is that they are effective in explaining experiences of participants in a study (Njegovan et al., 2017). Interviews will provide an excellent and wide range of data that is much needed in the quest to examine the acculturation and integration of young refugee students. Furthermore, interviews are appropriate because they provide the chance to understand the respondent’s attitudes and perceptions, and provide the chance to gather more data on the research question. [A96]
The trustworthiness of the study is based on four criteria[A97] . The first one involves credibility, which entails the confidence linked to the truthfulness of the study findings (Anney, 2014). A second aspect of trustworthiness is transferability, which [A98] refers to the extent to which qualitative research findings can be transferred to other similar scenarios with other similar [A99] participants (Connelly, 2016). Third, confirmability is the third component of trustworthiness. Confirmability is the ability by other scholars to confirm the findings of a particular study[A100] . The fourth component is dependability of a study, which [A101] encompasses the stability of study findings over time (Anney, 2014).
Credibility in this study will be accomplished by data triangulation and member checks. Triangulation is the use of multiple approaches to analyse data to increase the credibility of a research. The researcher will address triangulation by ensuring that the team has the capacity to analyse multiple sources[A102] . Member checks encompass the continuous testing of data and interpretations obtained from the study participants. It enhances credibility by ensuring that respondents’ views are accurately included in data analysis and interpretation (Birt et al., 2016). This strategy focuses on determining whether the study findings represent the participants’ responses and perceptions of the phenomenon ([A103] Anney, 2014).
Transferability in this study will be achieved by providing thick descriptions of the data. For instance, a thick description entails the researcher’s elucidation of various aspects of the study, including data collection, study context, and the generation of the findings [A104] (Anney, 2014). Therefore, the rich description of the findings is crucial [A105] in ensuring the transferability of a study.
Confirmability in this study will be achieved by keeping a reflexive journal. A reflexive [A106] journal encompasses documents, which the researcher keeps to reflect on, interpret, and plan for data collection (Anney, 2014). I will keep a reflective journal to cover all events that will take place in the study process. The journal will include the steps taken in conducting the study, the challenges faced, and the solutions implemented to address them. Dependability will be accomplished by conducting the data collection and analysis process with the help of only those who are very important.[A107]
The data collection process will include conducting interviews and collecting essay artefacts. The first step is identifying the respondents, the second step is summarizing the objective of the study, the third step is conducting the actual interview, the fourth step is analysing the data, and the final phase is creating a report. [A108]
Thematic coding will be used to examine key ideas covered in the respondents’ essays, researcher-generated documents, and interviews[A109] . The [A110] analysis will cover latent themes, which focus on exploring underlying assumptions, ideas, and concepts that shape the semantic content (Vaughn & Turner, 2016[A111] ). The initial step would be to familiarize with the data before assigning specific codes to it so that it is easier to describe the information. The third step would be to search for relevant patterns and themes to the codes across various interviews before reviewing each theme. The following step would be to define and name the different themes, and finally give the final report. [A112]
Ethical considerations play a crucial role in enhancing the protection of human subjects involved in the research. Given that the current study does not involve any experimentation, the participants will not be harmed in any way (Gray & Thorpe, 2015). Additionally, their responses will remain anonymous to ensure confidentiality. They will not be coerced to engage in the study, but rather they will be required to sign an informed consent demonstrating their agreement to participate in the study. . Participants may drop out of the study at any time without penalty. There will be no potential conflict of interest, and the participants are not related to targeted young refugee children.
The potential weakness of the research involves the use of a small sample, which may undermine the generalizability of the study findings. However, I will maximize the participants’ information by asking them to provide supportive evidence, such as providing written and spoken examples of their experiences in addition to documents indicating the services that they have delivered to young refugee children. Another possible challenge involves the lack of accessibility to an adequate number of leaders for data collection. Nonetheless, these issues will be addressed by using purposive sampling to approach three refugee resettlement services to select three leaders for the study. This sample is necessary to ensure an in-depth data analysis, and data triangulation using interviews and essays is anticipated to yield adequate data to address the research questions.
The methodology chapter has covered the essential elements related to data collection, analysis, and interpretation. It indicates that a qualitative design was selected as the most appropriate strategy for the exploration of the research problem, which indicates that many early childhood centers in the US have grown significantly diverse because of an increasing population of young refugee children. Such a population relocated from home countries due to various challenges, including war, persecution, and disasters, hence finding themselves settling in the US. They also encounter critical challenges related to their integration into society and early childhood centers. Consequently, this study focuses on the role of Illinois-based refugee resettlement services leaders in helping young refugee children to settle in the US and improve their academic performance.
The study design encompasses the use of a qualitative case study, the use of research-generated documents, and a semi-structured interview aimed at gathering comprehensive data to address the identified questions. Additionally, the participants include a sample of three refugee resettlement services leaders whose responses are crucial in determining the role they play in promoting young refugee children’s integration into society and early childhood centers. The data analysis procedures include coding and thematic analysis to identify key issues and ideas raised by the participants (Clarke et al., 2015). The study settings encompass Illinois-based refugee resettlement services, which play a critical role in providing essential services to young refugee children and families to enhance their welfare. Therefore, the explored qualitative methodology is suitable for the proposed study as it covers the different components related to the role of refugee resettlement services in early childhood education from the leader’s perspective.
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The respondents will be contacted face-to-face for this interview.
1. Please tell me about yourself and your role in the agency.
2. Why did you choose this position?
3. How long have you worked in this agency in your current leadership role?
4. How many young refugee children did you register last year?
5. What is their age range?
6. What is the duration of your services?
Agency & Leadership Related Questions:
7. Please tell me about the specific services your agency provides to young refugee children.
8. How do the young refugee children benefit from the services you offer?
9. How do you follow up with the young refugee children after they leave your agency?
10. How do you involve families in the services you provide to the young refugee children?
11. Please, tell me about some of the areas in which you work with the community and schools to enhance young refugee children’s meaningful integration into society and early childhood centers.
12. Please, describe your leadership style in working with young refugee children.
13. Are there any area where you think your agency would need improvements?
14. Please, tell me the various resources you use to foster young refugee children’s meaningful assimilation into society and early childhood centers.
15. How does the community assist you in the young refugee children’s integration process?
16. Identify the initiatives necessary for the continued support of young refugee children to enhance their wellbeing, socialization, and academic performance.
17. What unique challenges do young refugee children experience in your agency?
18. From your perspective as a leader, what is your responsibility for the successful integration of young refugee children into early childhood centers?
19. How connected are you with other Illinois-based agencies to ensure young refugee children’s meaningful integration into society and early childhood centers?
Essay Prompt for the Leaders
Please write a succinct essay covering your perspective of the role of resettlement services organizations in promoting young refugee children’s acculturation and integration into early childhood centers. Please attach all supporting evidence. Thank you.
[A1]Made structural change to make the statement clearer.
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[A3]The statistical information are valid and data comes from indicated sources.
[A4]Added the section to make the sentence complete.
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[A14]The insertion makes it easier to understand the sentence.
[A15]The added section helps to make the sentence more sensible.
[A16]The insertion contributes towards making the sentence more sensible.
[A17]Removed and added some words to make the sentence grammatical correct.
[A18]Adjusted the section to make the sentence grammatical correct.
[A19]Introducing the educational challenges facing refugee children.
[A20]Adjustment to make the sentence more precise.
[A21]Inserted a befitting work.
[A22]Added the entire sentence to provide relevant information.
[A23]The potential educational challenges.
[A24]Made some changes by removing and adding some sections.
[A25]Adjusted the sub-title to make it more precise.
[A26]Removed two words to achieve coherence.
[A27]Used citation to describe assimilation.
[A28]Used citation to describe acculturation.
[A29]Restructured how the sentence begins to build clarity.
[A30]Altered sentence structure to minimize errors.
[A31]Removed unnecessary words to avoid grammatical errors.
[A32]Placed citation at the right position to help readers understand the origin of the information.
[A33]Changed the morphological structure to be clearer.
[A34]Changed from would to also to make more sense.
[A35]Inserted the citation to help readers understand the source of the information.
[A36]Altered the section to make grammatical sense.
[A37]Removed unnecessary words and finished the section with a full stop.
[A38]Restructured the title to make more sense.
[A39]Completed the sentence to make sense.
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[A41]Changed the order of citation.
[A42]The insertion helps readers to make further reference on the matter.
[A43]Restructured the sentence by providing additional citations.
[A44]Added a couple of sentences on the topic.
[A45]Replaced organizational with leaders to make better sense.
[A46]Inserted the citation to give more proof.
[A47]Adjusted some connectors to achieve smooth flow of the information.
[A48]An additional sentence calling on leaders to act.
[A49]Adjusted some parts by adding and deleting some words to remove any errors.
[A50]Altered the sentence to make it easy to read.
[A51]Restructured the sentence by removing some words to avoid repetition.
[A52]Inserted new words to avoid any vagueness.
[A53]Restructured the entire sentence by adding and deleting some words to achieve coherence.
[A54]Changed the word from improve to foster to make it more appropriate.
[A55]Inserted the word to make the sentence clearer.
[A56]Adjusted the sentence to achieve grammatical coherence.
[A57]Use of sources to support the ideas.
[A58]Restructured the entire paragraph so that it defines this model, identifies and defines the main components (tenets), and explains how the main components are connected to the study.
[A59]Restructured the entire paragraph so that it defines this model, identifies and defines the main components (tenets), and explains how the main components are connected to the study.
[A60]Updated the topic.
[A61]Defining qualitative research with a citation.
[A62]Relationship with RQs.
[A63]Completed the sentence and referred to Creswell and Poth (2018)
[A64]Restructured a significant portion of the paragraph to increase clarity on how leaders will contribute towards the study by writing about their leadership style in helping refugees.
[A65]Clarified the number and duration of interviews.
[A66]Inserted new words and deleted some to create a comprehensive statement.
[A67]Adjusted section to remove unnecessary words that make the paragraph difficult to understand.
[A68]Inserted the section to create more sense on data analysis.
[A69]Added and deleted some parts to give a clear introduction to research methodology.
[A70]Reduced this section to a single paragraph.
[A71]The research questions give a reflection of chapter 1.
[A72]Restructured the sub-topics to give clearer guidance.
[A73]Changed from method to design to be more precise.
[A74]Changed publication year from 2015 to 2016.
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[A77]Check this section’s content with page 2 of the document attached to the email.
[A78]Added the subtopic.
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[A80]Describing the selection criteria for the agency.
[A81]Adjusted the section to avoid grammatical errors.
[A82]Showing how to gain access to the agencies.
[A83]Added this part to provide more insight into the nature of the participants.
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[A89]The plan describes the recruitment procedures.
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[A93]Added and deleted some parts to expound on the roles of the participants.
[A94]Information clarifies the type of documents.
[A95]Made the subtitle bold.
[A96]Additional information explains further why interviews are appropriate.
[A97]Included confirmability to make them four.
[A98]Restructured the section to develop proper sentence structure.
[A99]Added the words similar to achieve coherence.
[A100]The section provides the meaning of confirmability.
[A101]Inserted some words to make the sentence more complete.
[A102]The added information provides clarity on data triangulation.
[A103]Restructured the sentence to make it precise.
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[A105]Added and deleted some parts to achieve lexical coherence.
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[A107]Completed the sentence to make it meaningful.
[A108]Included a summary of the data collection procedures.
[A109]Inserted the section to make the sentence more complete.
[A110]Rectified the starting section to make it more fitting.
[A111]Add the specific steps you will follow. Let me know if you need help with this section.
[A112]The additional information provides a step by step process of the data analysis.
[A113]Changed title to bold.