The effect of refugee resettlement on physical educators’ behaviors and teaching practice




Sears, Jack Vaughn, Jr.

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Refugee resettlement is the direct result of persecution brought on by politics, war, ethnic violence, or religious persecution. The United States has traditionally been the place where many refugees settle. Refugee families find their way to cities all across America with hope for a better life, employment and quality education for their children. The physical education (PE) teacher typically has interaction with every student in the school, and is likely to affect, and be affected by, a refugee students’ school experience. Currently, there is little to no research concerning the beliefs and subsequent behaviors and teaching practices of PE teachers interacting with refugees. The purpose of this phenomenological multiple case study is to examine the personal, cultural, and professional experiences of physical educators in schools where there is a substantial refugee student population. James Banks’ conceptual framework of multicultural education was used to help discover how PE teachers create PE learning environments that are relevant and beneficial to refugee students. Research questions sought to understand how refugees affect the PE teacher’s beliefs, behavior, cultural sensitivity and pedagogical practices. This study was conducted over a two-year period and qualitative data was collected from seventeen PE teachers. A snowball sampling method allowed for more teachers to participate therefore allowing the potential for further enrichment of the study. While completing the literature review, a pilot study was conducted, interviewing and observing five teachers. Overall, seventeen participants were interviewed, and twenty-one observations of PE classes were made. Relevant artifacts were collected along with the researcher’s field and observation notes. Upon completion of all interviews and observations a thorough analysis was completed and brought to a conclusion for submission in this dissertation. Findings indicated seven primary themes: the presence of refugee students will shape teaching practices; language and culture influence relationships and teaching; professional development is deficient; a student’s culture may enlighten one’s worldview; diversity in the classroom may reduce prejudice; the PE teacher becomes aware of adverse childhood experiences; and cultural competency matters. Findings indicated that the behaviors and practices of PE teachers are affected by the presence of refugee students. PE teachers recognize that this phenomenon of diverse student populations in the classroom makes the learning and teaching experience challenging and influential.


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