Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shumow, Lee

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Immigrant children--Education--United States


A significant wave of immigration has occurred in the United States over the past two decades. It is estimated that one out of every five children in school today are either children who have newly arrived in the US or children with at least one parent who has recently immigrated. This study focuses on “newcomers,” the foreign-born school-age children who have arrived in the US in the past three years and entered formal schooling. Because little research has focused on newcomers, outside of language acquisition, despite teacher reports that they struggle to understand how to teach this population newcomers were the focus of this study. This study is framed within the socio-constructivist theory of teaching and learning in a classroom setting and focuses on motivation in context through examining the goals of teachers and newcomers. The qualitative method of a multivocal ethnography provides insights that address the challenges teachers face with their newcomer students. To accommodate the difficult task of analyzing non-western narratives, Discourse analysis promoted a sociocultural understanding of learning and provided the multi-dimensional, dynamic, multi-level insight proposed as necessary by Volet. Gee’s Discourse analysis brought understanding to the newcomer’s meaning making within the mainstream classroom while decentering the researcher’s voice. By utilizing this hybrid methodology, this study exposed co-constructed meanings revealing four motifs; “getting it,” “speaking it,” “doing it,” and “connecting it.” These motifs were interwoven into a theme of “making sense” that brought understanding to an otherwise cacophonic landscape. Participants’ subjective perceptions of the dynamic classroom context were examined. Newcomers’ and teachers’ appraisals of their interactions revealed the goals of the newcomers and teachers and their process of pursuing a “state of intersubjectivity” or “congruence.” Uncovering these goals exposed the mismatches between teachers’ and students’ perceptions of learning. Examination of these mismatches was undertaken to inform educational practice. Exposure of the goals within each subjective perception revealed cultural models which, when exposed, open venues for the community of practice to enhance the construction of intersubjectivity and thus better support engagement in learning within the classroom.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [158]-169).


ix, 209 pages




Northern Illinois University

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