Ongoing Project:

Newcomer Refugee Youth: Social Integration and Academic Success

Researchers: Alexandra Gottardo and Ali Jasemi
Affiliation: Wilfrid Laurier University
Research Partner: COSTI Immigrant Services
Keywords: refugee youth and young adults, English language learning, trauma, well-being, cultural adaptation, school, social support, integration, employment


Objective: This study explores how cultural adaptation, the role of community support for educational success, acculturation, and well-being affect the language learning and adjustment capacity of refugee youth, in turn impacting future academic and economic success in Canada.

Justification: Research suggests that psychological trauma, which many refugee youth experience, may negatively affect academic adjustment, general social adjustment, and cultural adaptation.

Practical goal: This study will further our understanding of the effects of trauma, social support, and adaptation on refugees’ successful participation in Canadian society.

Primary audience: Service providers, educators, policy makers, and refugee youth


In this study, successful participation in Canadian society is operationalized as English language fluency skills, access to appropriate employment, maintaining a professional career, and access to academic resources and mainstream cultural adaptation.

Participants for this study include 80 newcomer youth and young adult refugees aged 13 to 25 (40 younger participants 13-17 years old and 40 older participants 18-25 years old). These participants will be compared to 80 immigration youth from similar cultural groups.

This study uses a mixed-methods design. The participants will complete a series of measures to test their English oral and written fluency level, their level of general involvement with the mainstream culture and politics in Canada, employment rates, and employment satisfaction. The participants will complete a survey about their access to community support and coping skills and strategies. A survey also will ask the participants about the possible negative experiences in terms of their interaction with others in the community.

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