Immigrant students’ psychological adjustment in the school context: A meta-synthesis of qualitative research on acculturation

Makarova, Elena; Birman, Dina (13 July 2014). Immigrant students’ psychological adjustment in the school context: A meta-synthesis of qualitative research on acculturation (Unpublished). In: 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology. "From crisis to sustainable well-being". Paris. 08.07.-13.07.2014.

This contribution focuses on the characteristics of the school context and their impact on immigrant students’ acculturation and adjustment at school. Research suggests that the ways immigrants acculturate is related to their well being (e.g. Phinney, et al., 2001; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 1999), although findings have been contradictory across methods and studies (e.g. Rogler, 1991; Escobar & Vega, 2001). Debates in acculturation research currently center on issues of acculturation measurement (e.g. Berry, 2009; Rudmin, 2009), as most research is conducted in the quantitative tradition. In addition, some have suggested (Birman, 2011) that research on acculturation in the tradition of cross-cultural psychology adopts an overly individualistic perspective, and lacks attention to the specific contexts of acculturation. Alternatively, the contextual approach proposes that the relationship between acculturation and adjustment is shaped by the surrounding context (Birman & Simon, 2013). For immigrant children, schools are the setting where the process of acculturation unfolds, and an important context in which to study their adjustment and well being (Birman, et al., 2007; Makarova & Herzog, 2011). Though rarely used in this tradition of acculturation research (Chirkov, 2009), qualitative methods are uniquely suited to gain insight to facilitate theory development, as well as appreciate the contextual nature of the acculturation process. Yet we are not aware of efforts to synthesize the empirical qualitative literature on this topic. Applying the methodology of meta-synthesis for qualitatieve research (Walsh & Downe, 2005) our contribution attempts to integrate results from qualitative studies on impact of acculturation on immigrant students’ psychological adjustment in the school context. For this purpose 84 articles which matched the inclusion criteria were selected. Overall, the results of our study show that within the school context a number of structural as well as process characteristics can be identified as crucial for immigrant youth psychological adjustment. Moreover, our findings indicate that immigrant youths’ psychological adjustment is related to other individual outcomes of acculturation in the school context such as behavioral adjustment, peer-relationships, academic achievement and identity development of immigrant youth.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Education > Educational Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Makarova, Elena


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 370 Education




Elena Makarova

Date Deposited:

15 Jan 2015 15:40

Last Modified:

15 Jan 2015 15:40

Uncontrolled Keywords:

acculturation, immigrant youth, meta-synthesis, psychological adjustment, school


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