This blog, by Robin Fontana, summarizes her doctoral dissertation entitled “Daughter’s Sighs: The Social Barriers Female Chinese International Students Encounter When Transitioning to Private High School in the United States“.
Seven female Chinese secondary students were interviewed and took part in a focus group using protocols based on Flanagan’s Critical Incident Technique (1954). Findings aligned with Berry’s theory of acculturation (1997) and indicated that students encounter interior, exterior, and institutional barriers which can inhibit their ability to acculturate successfully, including problems with racism. Additionally, results pointed to the importance of domestic students, homestay families, and school staff in supporting these students’ emotional and academic needs.
Ultimately, international education agencies and private schools have the obligation to form stronger partnerships in order to better address the needs of this growing population. Foremost among these would be the need for proactive measures that would better inform teachers and homestay parents of the academic and socioemotional needs of these students.
Dr. Robin Fontana is a guidance counselor at La Reina Middle and High School, an all-girls’ 6-12 grade in the Greater Los Angeles area, where she has also held the roles of International Program Director and Assistant Principal. Dr. Fontana holds a Master of Arts degree in English and a doctorate in Educational Leadership, K-12. She completed her doctoral research at California Lutheran University in the area of international education, studying the acculturation process of female Chinese secondary students in American private schools.