Trauma and Academic Progress of Immigrant Students

Topic: Psychological Issues
Words: 585 Pages: 2


‘Re-bordering spaces of trauma: auto-ethnographic reflections on the immigrant and refugee experience in an inner-city high school in Toronto’ is an article written by Grace Feuerverger and published in the International Review of Education in 2011. The article presents the results of the author’s research on the influence of different backgrounds on the social displacement of immigrant students of an inner-city high school in Toronto. The article features a collection of excerpts from interviews with immigrant students and authors’ opinions on the topic, defined through experience in working with immigrant students. The purpose of the research is to display that experiences of violence, oppression, and war can cause difficulties in academic progress among immigrant students.

Immigrant Students’ Experiences and Academic Progress

Firstly, the assumption stated by the author in the article is based on the author’s firsthand experience as a daughter of parents who were detained in concentration camps during World War II. The author suggests that immigration causes different traumas in students who escape their country because of violence, war, and oppression. Therefore, teachers should help the students overcome the background differences with their peers as they contribute to immigrant students’ difficulties in academic progress.

Next, to thoroughly interpret the interviews with students as the conceptual framework, the research uses the auto-ethnography lens, defined as a narrative practice that can produce textual identities in descriptions of personal historical events. Furthermore, the primary method that the author used in the research is conducting interviews with students through several years in ELL (English Language Learners) offices, identified as a safe space. Throughout the interviews, the author used similar guiding questions to collect information about whether the student separates his previous life from the present and what strategies help them navigate between the two different worlds.

The central part of the research that focuses on describing the authors’ experience in communicating with immigrant students is embellished by the authors’ sympathetic and understanding tone that conveys the author’s opinion on the topic. The author’s authorial voice and choice of words to describe immigrant students, such as “fragile yet defined strength,” clearly transmits the author’s emotional connection with the participants (Feuerverger, 2011, p. 366). The author even points out that she likes one of the participants because she could relate to his experience of being a “psychological orphan” (Feuerverger, 2011, p. 366). Therefore, due to the emotional context of the topic and the researcher’s compassion for participants, the research cannot be acknowledged as an objective study.

Lastly, in discussing the implications of the research for education, the author states that it is uncertain what measures can be taken to improve the situation for the children of oppression. While providing compassion to the students cannot be acknowledged as a substantial improvement method, immigrant students should have a place to tell their stories (Feuerverger, 2011). In conclusion, the author suggests that caring for vulnerable students requires rethinking and reshaping the educational process to link it with the experiences lived by immigrant students who come from places of war and oppression.


In conclusion, the article written by Feuerverger (2011) explores the influence of immigrant students’ experiences on difficulties in their academic progress but overly focuses on the emotional component. The emotional focus is sourced in the author’s subjective compassion for research participants who share similar experiences of psychological orphanhood. Therefore, the article thoroughly discusses the theme of trauma and its influence on the personal values of immigrant students but does not provide recommendations for potential measures in the education process.


Feuerverger, G. (2011). Re-bordering spaces of trauma: auto-ethnographic reflections on the immigrant and refugee experience in an inner-city high school in Toronto. International Review of Education, 57(3), 357-375.

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