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Refugee students in Australia

All students require differentiated teaching methods that will assist them in their learning

due to their diverse characteristics. Refugee students face several learning challenges and

encounters due to their non-English speaking background. They are a specific group of

individuals of the lower socioeconomic status. Critical research and observation is required in

order for educational leaders to be mindful about the learning implications refugee students face,

and to create significant learning methods in order for students to nurture. The article ‘Refugee

action support: crossing borders in preparing pre-serve teachers for literacy teaching in

secondary schools in Greater Western Sydney’, by Loshini Naidoo (2012) mentions the

importance of providing literacy support for refugee background students in order to benefit

them. Naidoo (2012) also discusses the how to prepare future teachers to overcome the

challenges refugee students face. The article discusses the Refugee Action Support program

within schools and communities, which is supported by Western Sydney University. Naidoo’s

(2012) article will be compared and contrasted to the article “Interrupted schooling and the

acquisition of literacy: Experiences of Sudanese refugees in Victorian secondary schools” by Jill

Brown, Jenny Miller and Jane Mitchell (2006). The limitations of learning assistance and support

are identified throughout the article, demonstrating the lack of support Sudanese refugee students

receive in Australian schools. Although both studies cover the importance of literacy refugee

students require, the limitations are also perceived through Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006)

article. Overall, the outcomes of both research articles demonstrate significant and worthy data.

The purpose of Naidoo’s (2012) research demonstrates the importance of providing

refugee students with educational support through the ‘Refugee Action Support’ program (RAS).

The program aims to provide support for refugee students as they struggle with language and
literacy within Australian classrooms. Through the educational opportunities provided for

refugee students, their socioeconomic status significantly improves (Naidoo, 2012, p.266). As

well as providing support for refugee students, Naidoo (2012) also established that by involving

parents to the program provided greater learning opportunities (p.273). Kulger and Price (2009)

state, “Part of the family’s role is supporting the student’s emotional needs, particularly

significant for immigrant and refugee students who often come from close, protective families”

(p. 49). This has also been embedded in Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) study, as they

believe that refugee students should receive all the support required, however they specifically

mention the limitations and traumatic experiences refugee students faced in the past, which

affects their learning. Brown, Miller and Mitchell (2006) found that these students found the

languages of the standardised curriculum very challenging and difficult (p.150). Even though

both studies draw upon the importance of providing refugee students with support in order for

them to engage within learning environments, Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) believe that

further developments must be conducted as refugee students have been traumatised by their

distressing life experiences (p.161).

Both research articles produce an adequate literature review on the importance of

providing refugee students numerous opportunities of achieving in school. Naidoo (2012)

demonstrates the importance of teachers being aware of the second language learning and

literacy in order to elevate the performance of students (p.268). By knowing this, teachers will be

able to articulate pedagogical approaches to encourage these teachings. Service learning is a

significant pedagogical approach that integrates ones service to the community to improve their

learning development. In comparison to Naidoo’s article, Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006)

literature review also relates to the significance social communication skills, as students develop
‘academic and language competence’ (p.153). It is significant to consider the trauma Sudanese

refugee students face as it ominously affects their learning ability. As the limitations of assisting

Sudanese refugee students are mentioned in Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) article, further

research was required in order for the researchers to find the benefits of learning within

Australian schools.

The qualitative approach used by Naidoo (2012) was significant, as Ullman (2015) states

“the purpose of qualitative research is usually descriptive and explains a particular phenomena”

(p.148). The process of collecting the data was conducted through ‘a semi-structured individual

and group interviews’ (p.270) in order to assemble statistics of the experiences of refugee

students who were part of the RAS program. Refugee students who attended the RAS program

were also involved in focus groups interviews in order to generate open discussions. In

comparison, Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) also conducted their data through the

qualitative method approach, where eight Sudanese refugee students volunteered to undertake

interviews in order to generate information on the struggles and suggestions to better learning

within classrooms (p.156). The benefits of using a qualitative method approach rather than a

quantitative approach allows for the results to be descriptive and are open to interpretation

(Ullman, 2015, p.149) rather than simple yes and no survey questions. However, Unlike

Naidoo’s research, where students remained anonymous for confidential purposes, Brown,

Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) did not construct the research where the students’ identity remained

anonymous. Anonymity and discretion of students is significant and ethical to gathering research

as they cannot be found or criticized (Crow & Wiles, 2008, p.418). Overall, both research studies

have utilised precise data methods where Naidoo (2012) assess the value of the RAS program
and its benefits, and Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006) gain information on what refugee

struggle with during schools and what they prefer in teaching and learning areas.

The comparison of the findings of both articles has been explored. Naidoo (2012) simply

stated the outcomes of the research conducted, where it is evident that students who attended the

RAS program, reported in gaining further confidence in their academic performances within

schools (p.271). The tutors and students of the RAS program also voiced their teaching and

learning experience, providing actual learning experiences. Similarly to Naidoo’s research, the

findings of Brown, Miller and Mitchell (2006) are also mentioned through the voiced opinions of

the eight Sudanese refugee students. However, they also use tables in order to clearly show the

information and of the eight Sudanese students and their findings (Brown, Miller & Mitchell,

2006, p.154). Both studies aim to provide literacy and language help for refugee students through

programs and conducting personal information on what these students prefer by implementing

pedagogical methods. However, a more stimulating research could have been utilised in order to

create evocative involvement within classrooms by further expanding on the methods used in

order to advance information. A wider range of research must be conducted, as valuable

information is determined through various times of surveying or conducting focus group

discussions (Neuman, 2009, p.4). Overall, both research studies have provided standard

information in regards to their research questions.

Many refugee students had minimal access to education resources before entering

Australia, the lack of support and extreme poverty they faced had disadvantaged them

immensely (Blackwell & Melzak, 2000, p.9). The common aspects shared between both research

articles relates to the aim of providing further learning assistance for refugee students within

Australian schools due to their traumatic experiences. However, Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s
(2006) research places specific input on Sudanese refugee students, as they are the largest group

of refugees “under the Humanitarian Immigration Program” (p.150). Although, both research

articles aim to enhance the learning of refugee students, limitations arise. Brown, Miller and

Mitchell’s (2006) article brings forth limitations of only conducting research on eight Sudanese

refugee students. By involving more than eight students within the study, further findings and

conclusions could have been produced, allowing for further learning opportunities (find resource

on this). The RAS program also has limitation of research as they only conducted research within

one school.

Furthermore, I am now going to discuss the implications examined through both research

articles. The implications have developed from the research conducted from both articles. The

RAS program is a learning implication as it provides educational suggestions for pre-service

teachers on how to deal with refugee students. This also benefits them, as they are able to

understand the needs of refugee students and what they require. A RAS tutor has stated “I’ve

used the RAS strategies that I’ve actually learnt” (2012, p.272). This has also allowed tutors and

pre-service teachers to recognise the pedagogical strategies of teaching students. The

implications also include providing one on one support with students and teachers that introduce

beneficial methods of learning, where students are also able to gain further confidence in

learning (Naidoo, 2012, p.271). Naidoo’s (2012) suggestions after conducting her research has

allowed for implications for teaching. On the other hand, Brown, Miller and Mitchell’s (2006)

research article has also allowed for teaching implications, where learning pedagogical strategies

have been developed. This being, modifying the curriculum activities to develop simplified

methods of learning of language and literacy for refugee students (p.161). By modifying and

differentiating lesson plans, students are able to succeed within classrooms. Differentiating in
classrooms is also an implication as it is an effective pedagogical for teachers. Tomlinson (2000)

supports this as he says “planning to differentiate within classrooms is effective as students are

able to reach for their full potential according to their academic level” (p.77).

Through analysing the importance of the research of both articles, implications for

teachings have been established. As a future English teacher I have been able to recognise the

importance of differentiating learning according to the needs of all students and their learning

requirements. The Professional Standards for Teacher (2014) mentions, by developing and

creating differentiated pedagogies for diverse students, they are able to meet the needs of the

learning abilities of all students (p.1). It has also allowed me to view the different methods of

learning according to the stages of all students. “RAS meets the needs, abilities and learning

styles of students from refugee backgrounds and provided them with a better chance to succeed”

(Naidoo, 2012, p.273). The cultural knowledge of students also introduced implications for

learning as teachers began to involve cultural context and knowledge into classrooms (Brown,

Miller & Mitchell, 2006, p.157). Both research studies indicated that refugee students were able

to prosper in schools through the extensive support and assistance of creating tutoring centres

and also by simply training teachers and tutors to be precautious of the support required by

refugee students. Through both research findings, implications for learning have been identified.

In conclusion, both research articles have conducted immense knowledge and findings to

support refugee students. Both research articles have also demonstrated an understanding of

implementing pedagogical strategies in order to allow refugee students to gain all possible

knowledge within classrooms and beneficial learning programs. Even though Brown, Miller and

Mitchell’s (2006) research article specifically mentioned Sudanese refugee students, both studies

both have similar conclusions and recommendations that refugee students require further
learning assistance by training tutors and teachers. Hence, it is evident that further research must

be conducted in order to provide high quality teaching for refugee students who require learning

support in order to be effective in comparison to mainstream students.


Blackwell, D., & Melzak, S. (2000). Far from the battle but still at war. Troubled refugee

children in school. London, England: The Child Psychotherapy Trust.

Brown, J., Miller, J., & Mitchell, J. (2006). Interrupted schooling and the acquisition of literacy:

Experiences of Sudanese refugees in Victorian secondary schools. Australian Journal of

Language and Literacy, 29(2), 150–162.

Kugler, E., & Price, O. (2009). Go beyond the Classroom to Help Immigrant and Refugee

Students Succeed. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 48-52.

Naidoo, L. (2012). Refugee action support: Crossing borders in preparing pre-service teachers

for literacy teaching in secondary schools in Greater Western Sydney. International

Journal Of Pedagogies And Learning, 7(3), 266-274.

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Tomlinson, C. (2006). Leadership for differentiating schools & classrooms (1st ed., pp. 77-103).

Heatherton, Vic.: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Wiles, R., & Crow, G. (2008). The Management of Confidentiality and Anonymity in Social

Research. International Journal Of Social Research Methodology, 11(5), 417-430.

Ullman, J. (2015). Applying educational research (2nd ed.) Sydney.