Graduate Student Spotlight

The Research/Project Spotlight initiative features emerging research and projects conducted by CERA’s graduate students. The spotlight initiative further the mission and goals of the association by providing a structured means to enhance the visibility of the association, support the work of its members, and support knowledge mobilization efforts to better communicate research efforts and findings to the broader education community.

Camila Lara (Brock University)

Camila_Lara

Title of Project: The Education and Integration of Immigrant Children in Ontario: A Content Analysis of Policy Documents Guiding Schools’ Response to the Needs of Immigrant Students

Research Questions:Do Ontario’s education policy frameworks clearly articulate the educational support measures required for immigrant students to successfully integrate within school systems?
Sub-questions: (1) What policies, procedures, or strategies have been established by Ontario’s MOE to address the complex needs and challenges experienced by immigrant students? (2) Do the policies established by the MOE align with available evidence-based research?

Project Description: Given the rise and diversification of the immigrant student population within Canadian school systems, the establishment of policies that support immigrant pupils’ transition and integration has become of pressing concern for policymakers. Following our multi-dimensional support model, this study examined the extent to which Ontario’s provincial education policies, guidelines, and strategies respond to the needs of immigrant students within the K-12 public education system. For the most part, the current analysis indicated that the ministry has established the necessary educational support measures to integrate immigrant students. However, our findings also suggest that this group of students warrants a stand-alone policy document to comprehensively address all of their unique needs. Moreover, this study underscores the importance of greater policy coherence and direction within Ontario, as well as the ongoing role that evidenced-based research should serve in the development and refinement of existing policies.

Next steps for this project:The acquired knowledge regarding the policies established by the Ministry of Education provides the foundation needed to continue with the following phase of this study, which will involve a series of interviews with policymakers, school authorities, teachers and other support staff to evaluate whether the policies advanced by the ministry have been successfully implemented at the school-level. This will allow us to identify potential gaps in particular areas and/or subgroups of immigrants.

CERA’s impact on Camila Lara’s work: As a recent graduate student, I truly believe that becoming a CERA member has allowed me to grow professionally in the field of educational research, gain useful qualitative research skills, and engage in valuable discussions with other researchers whose interests align with mine. As well, presenting my work at a national conference and becoming the recipient of the 2019 Bateson New Scholar Award has inspired me to continue working within this field in order to improve our understanding of how to support vulnearble student populations and ensure their success. I also look forward to all the learning opportunities that will come this upcoming year as I join CERA 2019-2020 Executive Team as the Graduate Student Representative!