Migration can be viewed as positive for migrant parent(s), their child(ren), the new country they migrate to, their new school systems and even their new teachers, according to Dr. Patrice J. Pinder, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educator and researcher.
Pinder presented her learning model, “An Interdisciplinary Model of Migrant Schooling”, at Jiangsu University in Zhenjiang, China, in December 2019. She represented The Bahamas alongside researchers from top-tiered universities worldwide.
Her learning model was released then, and full publication of the results of the session was done in June in the International Journal of TESOL and Learning.
The title of the overall research piece by Pinder, of which the learning model is a part of, is “Exploring an Interdisciplinary Theoretical Model of Migrant Schooling to Effectively Account for the Achievement Differences Between Migrant and Native Students”.
“Many times, both here in The Bahamas and overseas, people often think of migration as having a strongly negative effect on one’s country, but this research and learning model is saying otherwise,” said Pinder. “It is saying that migrant students have been shown to succeed in their schools despite negative forces, such as having to adjust and to adapt to a new country and a new way of life, poor schools and in some cases being raised in poverty.”
Pinder’s educational model attempts to explain some of the factors that might influence the academic performance of some migrant or immigrant students to a “new host country”.
Through her research, she said she found that a combination of biological factors, psychological factors and social-cultural factors might best explain why some migrant and immigrant students who leave their birth country and enter a new country for a better way of life often do well academically, usually outperforming some of their native school peers, particularly in the wealthier regions of the world, such as the United States (US), Canada, the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia.
Specifically, Pinder said she found that to effectively account for immigrant or migrant groups’ academic successes, biology, psychology and culture and social and culture influence had to be factored in.
Biologically, she said, a migrant or immigrant student might inherit a spirit of excellence from his or her biological father and/or mother.
Psychological and cultural factors, she said, might also play a role in explaining why some immigrant and migrant students do well. She said that could include the resiliency of the migrant or immigrant student/child and that he or she might be determined to succeed despite being born into a poor family, failing school systems and their parents’ past negative circumstances before arriving in their new host country.
A student’s inner drive to succeed and the influence of their fellow immigrant or migrant friends and peers, she said, also play a factor.
The educator and researcher said smart peers or friends might influence the others to do well. And that a migrant or immigrant students’ overall positive attitudes to their schools, their teachers and learning as a whole might also play an important role in their academic success.
As far as social and culture influences, Pinder said a migrant or immigrant child/student or parents’ arrival in a new host country might lead to the parents’ positive views of the new host country; child’s/student’s positive view of the new host country; the parents’ high expectations for success in the new host country; and the child’s/student’s high expectation for success in the new host country – things she said can lead to the overall success of the migrant child or student in learning at school.
Pinder’s research project that the model is a part of examined and compared the academic performances of migrant students, immigrant students and native students in various academic subjects – science, technology, engineering, mathematics, reading, language arts and literacy.
The study looked at kindergarten through 12th grade and college students’ performances.
Although Pinder looked at migrant, immigrant and native students’ academic performance in USA, Canada, UK and Australia, she believes that similar success patterns might also be found among migrants and immigrants to The Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Pinder described the opportunity to present at the forum “as an exciting one”, as she was able to speak about her research, The Bahamas and its unique culture.