Immigrant Refugee Adolescents: The Relationships Between Peer Connectedness, Academic Self-Efficacy, Educational Barriers, Parental Monitoring, and School Engagement
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Adolescence can be a difficult time for youth, and several additional factors intensify the stress and risk associated with adolescence for refugee youth. Refugee adolescents, for example, often have to learn and speak different languages in different contexts, establish new peer relationships, and adjust to new cultural norms. It is important to understand how such cultural negotiations influence refugee youth's educational experiences because improved educational outcomes for youth are associated with improved health outcomes. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to explore the relationships between peer connectedness, parental monitoring, academic self-efficacy, educational barriers, and school engagement with a sample of refugee adolescents. Research hypotheses were tested using exploratory factor analysis and bivariate correlational, multiple regression, and MANOVA analyses. Data were collected from a sample of 120 refugee adolescent participants who were between 13-18 years old and arrived in the United States from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, or Iraq. Refugee adolescent participants and their families were recruited from Ecumenical Refugee and Immigrant Services (ERIS) and the African Community Center (ACC), which are refugee resettlement agencies located in Denver, Colorado. Language interpreters were recruited to assist with communication during data collection. Study findings showed that (a) a significant amount of variance in academic self-efficacy was uniquely accounted for by participants' educational barriers, school engagement, and parental monitoring, (b) a significant amount of variance in educational barriers was uniquely accounted for by ethnically similar peer connectedness, ethnically dissimilar peer connectedness, academic self-efficacy, and school engagement, (c) peer connectedness and educational barriers were positively, rather than inversely, correlated, (d) a significant amount of variance in school engagement was accounted for by educational barriers and academic self-efficacy, and (e) group differences in the level of relationships between variables were found as a function of current geographic location. Research implications include re-evaluating the use of negatively-worded and confusing items within the measures and collaborating with community partners when working with vulnerable populations. Practice implications include involving parents to decrease educational barriers through collaboration and providing educational support to foster success within the school and community.