Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Poonam Arya


The purpose of this study was to first, examine the difference between the academic literacy definition and views of the involuntary immigrant college students and the academic literacy definition and views of the hosting country; and second, to examine how these students acquire academic literacy over the course of one academic semester at a US college. This study provided understanding of how involuntary immigrant and refugee students develop new academic literacies practices as they go through the academic socialization process, rather than focusing just on what they should know in order to become successful educated members of the new community. The intent of the study was to focus on the process of their learning and not just on the outcome.

Participants in this qualitative case study research were four involuntary immigrant college students attending their first year in college in the United States. All participants in this study came from the same background and had very similar academic literacy views. This study was conducted over the course of one college semester. Data collection included participant observation, field notes, interviews, documents and course artifacts, and reflective journals. Data was analyzed using Spradley's Cyclical Research Design. This included the use of cultural domain analysis, taxonomic analysis, and finally a componential and theme analysis.

Findings of this study indicated that all four participants tried their best to fit in the new society by changing some existing practices and learning new ones, but their original views of academic literacy were not compromised. Resettlement issues of participants in this study were only related to emotional attachment with friends and family members back home. In this study, these emotional bonds worked as motivational factors and encouraged the participants to keep pressing for their best in the new society.