University of Oulu

A critical ethnographic exploration of cultural dimensions in social-emotional learning and wellness methods with immigrant and refugee high school youth

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Author: Dale, Megan1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 9 MB)
Pages: 101
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Dale, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-06-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Paradis, Audrey
Reviewer: Paradis, Audrey
Kauhanen, Iida


This thesis critically examines the utilization of social emotional learning (SEL) interventions with immigrant and refugee youth in a culturally appropriate and effective manner. By employing an ethnographic methodology and thematic data analysis, participant observation and in-depth interviews are used to investigate the impact of SEL education and social-emotional wellbeing on the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth

Data collection for this research project was conducted in the United States, this research employed the observations from a SEL instructors and voluntary interview participants who had graduated from Oregon state’s largest high school and an academic SEL program called RISE (Refugee & Immigrant Student Empowerment). This research is grounded in the understanding that immigrant and refugee youth face unique challenges as they navigate unfamiliar cultural and educational environments and investigates how SEL interventions can be geared to meet the specific needs of this population, taking into account their cultural backgrounds, experiences of resettlement and diverse identities.

Utilizing a critical ethnographic approach, the study explores the common practices within SEL implementation, and the cultural contexts of the students involved. It examines the role of culture, language, and identity in shaping the effectiveness of SEL practices, illuminating factors that intersect with the social and emotional development of immigrant and refugee youth.

Through direct observations of the SEL program RISE and in-depth interviews with immigrant and refugee youth, this research uncovers the nuances of implementing SEL education. It explores the perceptions, challenges, and opportunities associated with SEL, while also highlighting the voices and agency of the participants.

The findings of this study contribute to the field of education by providing insights into the cultural dimensions of SEL implementation. By critically examining the existing practices and proposing recommendations for improvement, this research aims to foster a deeper understanding of how to effectively support the social and emotional well-being of immigrant and refugee youth within the educational context and ultimately enhance the effectiveness and inclusivity of SEL education.

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Copyright information: © Megan Dale, 2023. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.