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«The ongoing wars around the world have led to an ever increasing exodus of refugee populations for resettlement in developed countries, including the ...»

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Using a narrative inquiry, Davies (2008) used a case study method to investigate the characteristics of five Sierra Leonean refugee adolescents and their adaptation in public schools in New York. The major research questions were the following: (1) how did war in Sierra Leone impact the adolescents‟ lives? (2) what were their self-perceptions? and (3) what were the major influences on their adaptation to schooling in the United States?

The results were categorized into those aspects that impeded and those that promoted adaptation and integration. It was observed that poor literacy skill, interrupted formal education or no education at all, low social economic status, illiterate parents, unfamiliar educational system, loss, and trauma were barriers to adaptation and integration. On the other hand, personal resilience, high self-esteem, strong family social support, and

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in the U.S. (Davies, 2008). The researcher suggested that while traditional curricular and generic educational policies may not be able to serve the needs of diverse refugee students, the need to promote the small school initiative may be a probable option for refugee students because it may provide more social support.

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The ever increasing numbers of children and adolescent refugees in the U.S. public schools and communities demands an understanding of the different variables that impact their adjustment in a new environment. Adolescent refugees are faced with a host of challenges, difficulties, and stressors compared to adults, partly due to the need to undergo normative developmental processes as well. These challenges range from adjusting to a new culture of the host environment and that of their new friends/peers, learning a new language, navigating a different school system, and challenges that come with taking upon new family roles (i.e., helping their parents and/or caregivers in their adjustment too).

Because of these demands, psychosocial adjustment for adolescent refugees may be a difficult process. This is more so because a majority may have lost their strong social network that was reliable and readily available to them. Psychosocial adjustment is necessary for them to find a balance in a new environment, a balance between their past and present lives as refugees. This process is negatively impacted due to the lack of social and emotional resources that may have been depleted through their past and present

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enrolled, it will be helpful to understand the prerequisites that positively impact the adolescents‟ psychosocial adjustment (e.g., social support and acculturation).

Social support has been identified as an integral construct in the overall adjustment and adaptation of adolescents during and after difficult life events. The inherent nature of social relationships in receiving support from important persons has been documented as leading to positive outcomes in individuals. For adolescent refugees from collectivistic cultural backgrounds with a strong emphasis on community interconnectedness and relationships among members, social support becomes particularly important in a new environment away from home. In the literature, a link has been observed between the role of social support and psychosocial adjustment among refugee adolescents. Because of this, it is worthwhile to investigate its role in adjustment with adolescent refugees from war-torn countries in Africa.

Additionally, psychosocial adjustment and acculturation have been closely intertwined in the well-being of refugees in general. More specifically, Berry‟s (1987) bidimensional acculturation strategies have been studied extensively in relation to adaptation of immigrant populations. Consistently, it has been found that the integration strategy is favorable in the successful adaptation of new arrivals in a host country while marginalization has provided the least or worst adjustment outcomes. An investigation of this outcome with African adolescent refugees will provide avenues in understanding either the similarities or differences in the preferences for acculturation strategies among boys and girls, and, therefore help teachers as well as community and school counselors

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The review of the literature has provided evidence of the importance of psychosocial adjustment, social support, and acculturation among immigrants and refugees in resettlement countries. To date, the relationship among these variables; acculturation, psychosocial adjustment, and social support with African adolescent refugees is

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In Chapter I, the purpose and need for the study were presented. In Chapter II, the literature review for investigating acculturation, psychosocial adjustment, and the role of social support was provided. In this chapter, the design and methodology of the study are presented. Specifically, the research questions and hypotheses for the study are provided.

The population from which the research participants were drawn from as well as the number of participants and a description are described. The variables (i.e., acculturation, psychosocial adjustment, and social support) and assessment instruments are described.

The procedures followed for recruiting the participants as well as administrative logistics in conducting the study are explained. The data analyses procedures, initial pilot study, results, and limitations are included and discussed.





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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among acculturation and psychosocial adjustment of African refugee adolescents. Specifically, the role of social support in explaining the relationships among acculturation and psychosocial adjustment were investigated. The research questions and hypotheses for testing were presented

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RQ1. What are the relationships among acculturation, social support (from parents and peers/close friends), and psychosocial adjustment among African adolescent refugees in the United States? (Analysis: Pearson Correlation Product Moment) H1. There will be a relationship among acculturation, social support, and psychosocial adjustment among African adolescent refugees.

RQ2. Among the four acculturation attitudes, which one is the best predictor of psychosocial adjustment among African refugee adolescents? (Analysis: Univariate Multiple Regression).

H2. Integration strategy will be the best predictor of psychosocial adjustment, followed by assimilation and separation. Marginalization will predict the worst adjustment outcomes.

RQ3. Do acculturation attitudes influence the amount of social support that adolescent refugees have which in turn influences psychosocial adjustment? (Testing Model; Analysis: Multiple Regression/Sobel Test).

H3. Social support that African adolescent refugees have and/or perceive would mediate the relationship between acculturation and psychosocial adjustment.

RQ4. Are there significant mean differences by gender and duration of stay in host country among African adolescent refugees? Secondary/ancillary question (Factorial ANOVA) H4. There would be significant mean differences by gender and duration of stay in

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The population of interest in this study was African adolescent refugees between ages 13-19 enrolled in grades 7 through 12 in North Carolina. Although seventh grade may be an early stage of adolescence, adolescents at this level potentially may be negotiating identity development processes (e.g., Erikson, 1968) like their older adolescent counterparts in tenth to twelfth grades. The researcher attempted to include adolescent refugees from different African countries of origin as well (e.g., Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, and Democratic Republic of Congo) in order to have a balance in country as well as gender representation. Participants were limited to those who had resided in the U.S. for at least one year and no more than ten years. It was projected that this preference for adolescents within this age range and duration lived in the U.S. would be helpful in determining their mastery of English as a second language.

Therefore, it was anticipated that they would not encounter too much difficulty in understanding the items on the measures to be utilized in the study.

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Participants completed three instruments to measure the variables in the present study. Acculturation was measured by the Acculturation Attitudes Questionnaire (AAQ, Berry et al., 2000, Appendix B). Psychosocial adjustment was measured by the Peer Social Acceptance and Global Self-Worth subscales of Self-Perception Profile for

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close friends) was measured by the Parent and Close Friend subscales of the Social Support Scale for Children (SSSC, Harter, 1985, Appendix B). Although the instrument was initially developed for use with 12 to 14 year olds from sixth through eighth grades, no limitations were found for use with older adolescents, particularly refugees who may be considered a special population group (Kovacev & Shute, 2004). The SPPA (Harter,

1988) and SSSC (1985) scales have been administered to a sample of adolescent refugees. In their study, Kovacev and Shute (2004) administered these measures to adolescent refugees aged between 12 and 18 from former Yugoslavia. In addition, the participants also completed a demographic information form (Appendix A).

Acculturation Attitudes Questionnaire (AAQ, Berry et al., 2006) The Acculturation Attitudes Questionnaire (AAQ) was developed by a team of international researchers for use in studying acculturation and adaptation among immigrant adolescents from different cultural backgrounds, a project known as The International Comparative Study of Ethno-cultural Youth (The ICSEY). The team was comprised of John W. Berry and Kyunghwa Kwak (Canada), Karmela Liebkind (Finland), Jean S. Phinney (United States), Colette Sabatier (France), David L. Sam (Norway), and Erkki Virta and Charles Westin (Sweden). The questionnaire was developed based on Berry‟s (1989) bidimensional acculturation model. It is comprises of 20 items intended to measure four acculturation strategies: integration (the preference by an individual to engage in both heritage/original culture and mainstream/majority culture), assimilation (the outcome of rejecting heritage/original culture in favor of the

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and rejection of mainstream culture), and marginalization (an individual‟s rejection of both heritage and mainstream culture). The items are scored on a 5-point Likert scale with responses ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (5). Higher scores indicate more endorsement of a particular acculturation strategy.

J.W. Berry (personal communication, January 9, 2010) reported the steps the research team undertook in developing the AAQ. Three methods were followed in the procedure, (1) creation of items for the four acculturation strategies of integration, assimilation, marginalization, and separation; (2) creation of items for the two dimensions (i.e., cultural maintenance and participation in the larger society); and (3) creation of four vignettes that characterized each of the acculturation strategies. The items were then subjected to a judgment procedure using judges familiar with the framework to sort out items into categories, with a high interjudge agreement being an indicator of face validity.

The questionnaire consists of items about marriage, language, cultural traditions, social activities, and friends. For example: “I feel that ethnic (e.g., Sudanese/Somali/Burundian) adolescents should adapt to mainstream (American) cultural traditions and not maintain those of their own” (Assimilation); “I would rather marry a Somali, Sudanese/Burundian than an American” (Separation); “I don‟t want to have either Sudanese/Somali/Burundian or American friends” (Marginalization); “I prefer social activities which involve both Sudanese/Somali/Burundian and American members” (Integration). In the ICSEY, responses by participants are given on a 5-point

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pilot study of about 30 participants to select the best items. It was checked using Cronbach‟s alpha and factor analysis to establish internal consistencies (see below).

The ICSEY-Project comprised 13 countries (including the U.S.), 32 ethnic groups, and over 7,000 migrant youth and a small sample of some of their parents and peers from the mainstream culture (Berry et al., 2006). The aim of The ICSEY was to examine (1) how immigrant youth live within and between two cultures (i.e., their heritage and mainstream/larger society); (2) how well immigrant youth deal with their intercultural situation (i.e., adaptation), and (3) the pattern of relationship between how adolescents engage in their intercultural relations and how well they adapt (Berry et al., 2006).

Reliabilities reported on the acculturation attitudes were.48 (integration),.58 (assimilation),.64 (separation), and.55 (marginalization). It was concluded that integration provided the best adaptation outcomes compared to a preference for either original or mainstream/national involvement. A principal component analysis grouped the five adaptation variables (i.e., life satisfaction, self-esteem, psychological problems, school adjustment, and behavior problems) into two factors, psychological adaptation and sociocultural adaptation. The first factor included life satisfaction (loading at.79), selfesteem (.89), and psychological problems (-.63). The second factor included school adjustment (-.68) and behavior problems (-.89). Since The ICSEY-Project, the AAQ has been used in studies of immigrant youth from a variety of countries.

Sam (2000) administered the AAQ in a study of 506 adolescent immigrants in Norway. The sample included 50 Chilean, 112 Turkish, 150 Vietnamese, and 194

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