Designing instrument for science classroom learning environment in francophone minority settings: accounting for voiced concerns among teachers and immigrant/refugee students

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Bolivar, Bathelemy
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This study responded to the experiences of new immigrant and refugee francophone students and their teachers in science classrooms within the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DFSM), a school division in central Canada. The study focused, ultimately, on developing a Learning Environment instrument that sought to provide an accurate portrait of the cultural, linguistic, social and physical dimensions of classrooms in which new immigrant/refugee francophone students are located. It used a multi-phase mixed-method research approach to explore the learning experiences of immigrant/refugee students, their teachers, and the influences on student learning and integration into science classrooms within the DSFM. This study was organized into three phases. The first phase was richly qualitative focusing on eliciting 16 new immigrant students’ views on factors influencing their engagement, learning and overall transition into science classrooms and eight teachers’ views on their teaching effectiveness for supporting the transition of immigrant students in such contexts. Secondly, the data from the qualitative phase were used to develop a learning environment instrument. The development of the instrument involved the use of a focus group, followed by a large-scale statistical validation process involving 84 teachers using principal component, discriminant and pattern matrix analysis. The final phase of the study involved the application of the instrument in two of the schools wherein teachers and students had previously been involved in the qualitative phase. This phase assisted in determining whether the data obtained from teachers’ completion of the instrument corresponded with the data from the initial qualitative phase. The end-result of this three phase process is the Minority Science Curriculum Immigrant Questionnaire, an 8-scale, 32-item instrument that when completed by teachers gives a somewhat superficial but overall accurate description of existing conditions in classrooms in which immigrant and refugee students are situated. Through the completion of the instrument and consideration of the data emanating from the completion, teachers are in a position to move responsively, both individually and collectively, towards enacting practices that will support immigrant and refugee students in their transition to Canadian classrooms and the learning of science, especially within francophone minority settings.
Learning Environment Research, Refugee Students, Immigrant students, Cultural discontinuity, Post-colonialism, Division scolaire franco-manitobaine, Science Education.