A hermeneutic phenomenological study of the lived experiences of immigrant students in their mathematics classrooms at a secondary school in Auckland, New Zealand
Jhagroo, Jyoti Rookshana
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The presence of immigrant students in mathematics classrooms continues to become more and more prevalent as a consequence of global migration. While their transitional experiences in their new environment may be understood from the multitude of theories in the vast landscape of literature, research focused on these 'lived experiences' from the immigrant students' perspective is less prevalent. This study is premised within a hermeneutic phenomenological framework because it explored the perceived lived experiences of ten immigrant students in their mathematics classrooms, as the phenomena, the hermeneutics component emerged from the interpretations of these perceived experiences. The study answers the underlying question of the study: How do the perceived past and present lived experiences of immigrant students influence their transition in the mathematics classrooms? A cross-cultural focus surfaced in the form of immigrant students experiencing different degrees of cultural shift in their new environment compared to what they had been accustomed to in their home country classrooms. The background that some of the students had come from included learning mathematics through a different language, single-sex schools, use of corporal punishment, silent classroom environments with a reluctance to be involved in class discussion, and a strict non-confrontational classroom environment. With regards to them forming relationships, most of the students in this study interacted positively and expressed positive attitudes towards their mathematics teachers and peers in their respective classrooms. The interpretations of how the ten immigrant students in this study perceived their mathematics ability, from their own perspective and from their perceived teachers’ perspectives, provided an understanding of how they positioned themselves in their mathematics classrooms. Additionally, an interpretation of the students' perceptions of how their parents’ would have rated their ability offered another dimension in understanding their academic self-concept. While interpretations made from the borrowed experiences of the immigrant students have been presented through the researcher’s lens, as the researcher, I am mindful that there are multiple realities and acknowledge that these experiences are unique because the ten immigrant students have given voice to their individual stories.