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Lived Experiences of Indian Immigrant Teachers

Info: 10162 words (41 pages) Dissertation
Published: 18th Feb 2022

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Tagged: EducationInternational Studies

The focus of this study was to use qualitative and narrative research approach to recreate the stories of immigrant teachers by exploring and reflecting on the lived experiences of Indian immigrant teachers. Based on the idea that human beings live storied lives and the narrative inquiry provides an ideal framework to write the lived experiences of these professionals as they adapting a new culture in their new surroundings. The study analysed the stories to identify the barriers that impact them from continuing their professional endeavours. Narrative research approach acknowledges the systemic inequities and power imbalances that contribute to the marginalised and problematized outlook these immigrant teachers. This study aspires to gain an idea of how the cultural differences affect the immigrant teachers’ interactions with their students and colleagues.  To get more deep knowledge of how external factors influenced cultural adaptation PPCT Model was used. NVivo software was used to derived themes and themes were analysed through the usage of PPCT (Process- Person- Context- Time) Model of Bronfenbrenner. Bronfenbrenner created a framework which shows the various categories of factors that influence human development.

A qualitative methodology approach seeks to gather rich information about people’s activities in natural settings through building on insiders’ perspectives (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). As Bellenger, Bernhardt and Goldstucker (2011) also stated that “qualitative research involves finding out what people think, and how they feel – or at any rate, what they say they think and how they say they feel. This kind of information is subjective. It involves feelings and impressions, rather than numbers” (p.2). Qualitative research seeks to investigate deeply the research setting in order to obtain understandings about the way things are, whythey are that way, and how the participants in the particular settings perceive them (Gay, Geoffrey, & Airasian, 2015). In this study how the immigrant ECE teachers who volunteer yo participate perceived the cultural changes.

For this chapter, several topics will be discussed to further illuminate the research methods. To collect data for this study individual interviews were conducting and this was designed to encouraged the participants to narrate in detail their lived experiences. A description of the data collection and some difficulties that arose and overcome are discussed in detail.

The organisation of the chapter will be based on the following:

  • Research Methods and Design
  • Participants: Participant’s Selection Criteria
  • Data Collection
  • Meeting Participants: Recording Interviews
  • Narrative Interviews
  • Data Analysis
  • Transcriptions of Qualitative Data
  • Nivivo 10 Software
  • Ethics
  • Assumptions
  • Limitations
  • Delimitations
  • Bronfenbrenner’s Human Development Ecological Model (PPCT)
  • The chapter ends with a summary of the chapter.

Research Methods and Design(s)

The design of a study is a set of broad ideas and principles taken from appropriate fields of enquiry (Smyth, 2004) and used to structure a presentation of reviews of collected data. As. Guba and Lincoln (1989, as cited in Smyth, 2004) stated, in all investigation of the social world, the framework itself forms part of the agenda for negotiation to be scrutinized and tested, reviewed and reformed because of investigation. The framework is actually a vision of research or a proposed reflection about the research and its background. In other words, the framework is a research tool intended to assist a researcher to develop awareness and understanding of the situation under scrutiny and to communicate this

Qualitative research methodology is most appropriate when the study endeavours to develop a better understanding of complex phenomena such as culture and individual’s perceptions and experiences (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). Miles and Huberman (1994) stated that qualitative research methodology is fitting when the study’s goals are to discover regularity in complex phenomena through identification and categorization of its elements and exploring their connections (Huberman & Miles, 2002). Qualitative research methods are the most suitable for this study because of their emphasis on people’s lived experience, helping to locate the meanings that people place on the events, processes, and structures of their lives and their perceptions, presuppositions and assumptions. Moreover, qualitative research was a better choice for this study than quantitative methods. By focusing on a smaller population, I was able to gather first-hand accounts to help illuminate specific events, make inferences about cause and effect relationships, and gain a fuller understanding of the entire context of the study, particularly given the complicated milieu of immigration and acculturation processes, as well as the effect of those processes on lived experiences (Carreiras & Castro, 2012). Unlike quantitative research, which is deductive and tends to analyse phenomena in terms of trends and frequencies, qualitative research seeks to determine the meaning of a phenomenon through description, and aids in the development of concepts to understand natural phenomena with an emphasis on the meaning, experiences and views of the participants. This is particularly useful in educational research with social and cultural dimension (Al-Busaidi, 2008).

The research design for the qualitative aspect of the study was to explore the interconnectedness of the environment, human development, and the factors that influences immigrant ECE teachers to adapt social and professional culture in New Zealand. Qualitative research provides a window to explore the experiences of individuals. As Bhattacharya (2007) stated, “Qualitative research attempts to systematically inquire about the in-depth nature of human experiences within the context in which the experience occurs” (p.3). As I was also immigrant student and teacher I became interested in the external and environmental factors that influence teachers’ personal and professional life to adapt a new culture in a new country. That was the reason, through this study I started to explore the interconnectedness of the environment, human development, and the factors that influence the immigrant Indian teachers. The early years of settling period impact on emotional. social and cognition development of teachers in a new country. The context of the current study is the transition of immigrant teachers to ECE centres in New Zealand with the emphasis on cultural adaptation and effect of external environmental factors on their social and emotional adjustment. Bronfenbrenner’s Model is the most suitable for encapsulating the perceptions and lived experiences of Indian immigrant early education teachers. Qualitative research methodology helps in determining and subsequently clarifying how a given person, in specific situations and under circumstances, understands and constructs the world.

Qualitative methodologies use an inductive approach, rejecting the norm of natural scientific models, with the view of social reality as individual property (Bryman, 2004). Thus, a qualitative researchmethodology explores attitudes, behaviours and experiences through processes such as semi-structured interviews or focus groups in an attempt to get an insight of the reality experienced by the participants and the resultant outcomes. In this way a qualitative methodology provides the infrastructure for the people to tell their stories which are unique and individualised experiences. Qualitative research assumes that reality is socially constructed and there is no single reality. Rather there are multiple realities or interpretation, of a single event. Creswell (2007) explains:

“In this worldview, individuals seek understanding of the world in which they live and work. They develop subjective meaning of their experiences…Theses meanings are varied and multiple, leading the researcher to look for the complexity of view… Often these subjective meanings are negotiated socially and historically. In other words, they are not simply imprinted on individuals but are formed through interaction with others (hence social constructivism) and through historical and cultural norms that operate in individuals’ lives (pp.20-21).”

Patton explains that in reality method of inquiry depend on how people describe their experience and how a person observe and make meaning out of it and also how that experience is interpreted and this interpretative process undergird interactions as fundamental to understanding human behaviour (Patton,2002).

To meet this purpose and to achieve the aim of my study, a qualitative approach is best suited. A narrative approach helped me to collect data, and Bronfenbrenner, (1979) concept that human development is influenced by external forces in order to adapt to a new multicultural environment, helped me to explore the experiences. The challenges and difficulties reported by participants in acculturation will be in large part a function of how well they were prepared for their new environments and trained to adapt to them (Cruickshank, 2004). For Dewey, education, experience, and life are inextricably intertwined. According to him, the study of education is the study of life-for example, the study of epiphanies, rituals, routines, metaphors, and everyday actions (Dewey, 1916, 1934, 1986, 1997, 2010).

Narrative research focuses not only on the experiences of research participants but also on the meaning given to the experiences by those participants. Experiences and stories are shared in many ways and have different functions in different cultures and communities. In some cultures, the story teller expects the listeners to supply the story’s ending and his dialogical blurring of teller’s and listener’s roles means that researchers need to examine their own culture expectations when listening to stories. Through the narrative I perceived how social realities impact teachers and how they choose to interpret it (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000).

Bronfenbrenner’s theory of social ecology provides an appropriate theoretical orientation to examine the complexities of external environmental factors that have an impact on transition (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). The study is based on Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological human development viewpoint (2001, 1979). This perspective points out that human development is the product of the interaction of human and environment among person, process, context, and time. The theory in my study is based on the interactions between the four PPCT concepts.

Participants: Participant’s Selection Criteria

When we talk about generalizability, qualitative narrative inquiry looks for the unique and significant meanings within a particular event. One general guidance for sample size in qualitative research is not only to study a few individuals but also to collect extensive details about each individual studied. Qualitative narrative inquiry tends to have small sample size, which means to have limited number of participants as compared to quantitative approach. It helps researcher to explore deeply and gain understanding of the phenomena (Creswell, 2013; Stephen, Marylnn, & Riemer, 2012). The sample size of this study is 15 participants, this is an appropriate range for the qualitative study (Creswell, 2012).

The population studied was Indian immigrants who have transferred to New Zealand within the few years and have experienced working as a teacher both in their country of origin as well as in their new country of residence for a minimum of one years in each country. The participants are qualified ECE teachers who have full or provisional teacher registration with Teacher Council of New Zealand.

In the first phase of sampling, participants were solicited from my professional contacts at an early childhood learning centre in New Zealand using purposive sampling, which limited the sample to individuals who have directly experienced the phenomenon under examination (Groenewald, 2004). Snowball sampling was used to contact additional prospective participants, which works like sequence recommendation, asking for help and support from the participant to identify and find people with a similar trait of interest (Biernacki & Waldorf & 1981). There is three type of snowball system linear snowball system, exponential non-discriminative and exponential discriminative. Snowball technique of sampling technique works like chain referral. After observing the initial subject, I asked for assistance from the participant to help identify people with a similar trait of interest. I observed the nominated subjects and continues in the same way until obtaining sufficient number of subjects (Biernacki & Waldorf & 1981).

The small sample size allows me as a researcher to better examine the similarities and differences between individuals. The choice of fifteen participants corresponds to the average number of participants recommended by many researchers in the social sciences (Bernard, 2000; Charmaz, 2006; Morse, 1994), as well as the mean sample sizes in qualitative studies in dissertations (Mason, 2010). This number will similarly offer saturation in sampling (Guest, 2006; Green & Thorogood, 2009).

Indian immigrant ECE teachers who hold full or provisional registration with New Zealand Education Council were selected as a participant for this study. The second criteria which I believe is very important was that the participants should have minimum one year teaching experience in India and in New Zealand. Any individual with less than one year of teaching experience in India and in New Zealand were not considered for this research. The focus of this study was to share the teaching experiences of ECE Indian immigrant teachers who are teaching in New Zealand early childhood centres, so other nationalities were not considered.

Data Collection

Data Collection from Indian immigrant ECE teachers involved individual, IEC-approved, interviews, which lasted for about 45-60 minutes. I prefer to use semi-structured interviews for my study because it “allows the researcher and participant to engage in a dialogue whereby initial questions are modified in the light of the participants’ responses and the investigator is able to probe interesting and important areas which arise” (Smith and Osborn, 2015, p. 29). In order to safeguard participants, subjects will sign informed consent forms before the interview sessions, and will be categorized in the dissertation only by numbers or pseudonyms, which provides confidentiality. Participants can stop the interviews whenever they want to and will be free to retract their offer of consent and no incentives were given for participation. A tape recorder will be used during all interviews, which will both conserve the exactitude of the participants’ words and maintain their anonymity. For further accuracy, all interviews will be transcribed verbatim. The researcher will also provide an email address and telephone number after the interview, which allows participants to reach the researcher to address and problems or concerns.

Meeting Participants: Recording Interviews 

Being an Indian and as all participants were also Indian I always kept in my mind the cultural requirement of these participants. One of the most defining characteristics of Indian culture is hospitality. People in India have the highest regard for guests and value hospitality. A common saying here is “atithi devo bhav,” meaning, “Guests are forms of God.” The saying has as much meaning for Indian hosts as it does for foreign guests. In India, when you wanted to interact with someone they invite you to their house. Whether it’s an official or a business meeting we invite people home which is usually followed with a meal. It is always appreciated if you take a gift/koha (sweet or fruits) when visiting a home or meeting someone. I also did the same when I met these participants for the interviews. Demographic informations were collected as India is a vast country.

Talking, listening, asking and answering, sharing stories – communicating with participants in a formal environment gave me a rich description about their experiences. Life experiences are the most important and personal stories for everyone and talking about them gives us a chance to travel through time. We live our lives moving forward, but we understand them backwards, learning from our past experiences. The interviews I conducted allowed me to delve deeper, from the researcher’s perspective, into the reality of what it is like to be an immigrant and to adapt to new social and professional lives. I appreciate how a qualitative research has the goal of realistically understanding the sample rather than generalizing from the sample to the population, as is the focus of quantitative methods in research studies.

The main purpose of using semi structured interviews is because it allows social interaction while face to face interaction gives an in-depth overview of the participants I was trying to investigate. Not only does it allow you the added insight into their personality, but also, the psychologist can explore the often fascinating bodily cues and facial expressions which accompany the life experiences which are brought to light in the interview.  While listening to the participants’ experiences, I observed some of their fears, worries and anxieties, while sharing their experience, which can harm their future job or relationships in the job market. Every interview took me on a journey but one of the experiences moved me dramatically. After talking to this particular participant two or three times I didn’t get any invitations to meet and conduct an interview. After a few weeks, I forgot about it and started looking for other participants. Under the pitter-patter of the New Zealand rain, I received a call from this participant. She invited me over to conduct the interview the same day, I was shocked and delighted that she was so keen to be a part of my study. It was then when she revealed that, when she had called me, she had just returned from the hospital after a cancer surgery. She offered me tea and snacks and told me to listen her story before she dozed off because of the medication. Being a single mother she had gone through many hurdles in her life, but to me and everyone else around her, she stayed cheerful with a smile upon her face. I asked her whether she would like to postpone the interview but she politely said, “No Amrit, I’ve already made you wait for so long” I was amazed, even in this condition, when she should have taken rest, she was happy to help me and was eager to share her experience.

During all the interviews with participants, all participants shared their personal and professional, good and bad, experience, some they refused to be recorded because they were worried about their identity to be disclosed. Meeting with participants and conducted interview quickly turns into an open, relaxed and informal conversation. Our conversation and chit chat included a different emotional responses and dialogues; from a formal conversation (following interview questions) to a daring adventure into our memories and dreams, from comedy and laughter to tragedy and sorrow.

As Patton (2002) and Merriam (2009) mentioned in their study that in qualitative research researcher is an important instrument. In this research, I was the primary data instrument who collected data through face to face interview. Creswell (2009), also mentioned that the researcher’s role is an asset and positive rather than a hindrance. I handled the task of administering the interviews and collecting all the data. A tape recorder was used to records all the interviews and later transcribed by me as the researcher. As a researcher, I consider relational ethics, as I asked open ended questions which allowed the participants to respond however they saw fit, during the data generating, analysis, collaborative inquiry and reporting procedures.

This study used open-ended interviews as its main source of data collection from teachers, as well as supplementary questionnaires. Moreover, I also used field notes and journaling in order to chronicle and describe my own remarks and observations during participant interviews (Mruck & Breuer, 2003; Ortlipp, 2008).

As a researcher, I created a broad-spectrum interview probing question list, which catalogue the vital questions and/or themes to best answer the research questions. This guide was not a set-in stone; instead, it was there to help ensure consistency in the wording of questions, which aided in credibility. The semi-structured approach also allowed me (the interviewer) the freedom to use probe questions to develop discussion of ideas expressed by participants, yielding a more textured description of participant experiences and perspectives compared with a structured interview approach (Stewart & Shamdasani, 2014; Stuckey, 2013). According to Smith and Osborn (2008), the interview should also be a guided schedule, rather than a set list of questions, so that the participant can introduce issues important to him or her and so that the researcher can try to enter the psychological and social world of the participant (p. 58-9).  The interview structure should thus be envisioned as a loose, malleable process that is open to adjustment.  Smith and Osborn (2008) further explained that “[g]ood interview technique therefore often involves a gentle nudge from the interviewer rather than being too explicit” (p. 61).  In order to achieve triangulation, depth, and completeness, as a researcher I asked questions in the different ways to get the same information in different ways. Moreover, as a researcher I included follow-up questions; which gave me the opportunity to probe further into the participants’ views and personal histories. Probing questions listed in the Appendix.

Narrative Interview

In this study narrative, has been used to bring forth the lived experiences of immigrant ECE teachers, as this method is best situated to gain knowledge from their experiences without much prompting. Narrative inquiry is a qualitative procedure used by many researchers to collect, tell, and write narratives about the life history of a person or community, or the private life experiences of people (Silverman, 2010). People live stories, and in telling their stories, they rephrase and modify them, and create new ones. Telling stories is considered a natural human impulse (White, 1987) and a primary way of making sense of experience (Mishler, 1991). Narrative discourse emphasizes the uniqueness of each human action and experience (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). In stressing the universal appeal of narratives, Riessman (1993) suggested that “Narratives of personal experience…are ubiquitous in everyday life…telling stories about past events seems to be a universal human activity” (pp. 2-3). Similarly, Polkinghorne (1988) described narrative as “the primary form by which human experience is made meaningful” (p.1). The narrative inquiry helped me to explore the private and professional lives and experiences of immigrant teachers who, at the time of being interviewed, will be employed in New Zealand as teachers.

Data Analysis and Nvivo

Transcripts of interviews and observation notes provided me a simple overview of the study, but they do not provide in-depth explanations. It was my duty as a researcher to explore, interpret and make sense out of the collected data. Interviewing 15 participants produced a great amount of data. I used Nvivo 10 software which help me to organise and analyse my data. I extract data from the verbally narrated text by participants into the written format for analysis. Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009) note that there are six important steps which must be applied to every individual case and also must be done in that specific order, in every study. Their suggested steps are  (1) reading and re-reading; (2) preliminary notations; (3) detailing developing themes; (4) associations throughout themes; (5) analysing the subsequent case; (6) identifying similar themes and associations across all cases (2009).

Transcriptions of qualitative research data

After recording interviews, the next step was to transcribe these interviews and handling this collected qualitative data. The accuracy of the transcription plays a very important role in analysing data. Validation is also an important factor that is why transcripts were reviewed and validated by the participants through checking (Guba and Lincoln 1994) and rechecking. I read and re-read carefully all the transcripts to gain an essence of the narrated story shared by each participant and then noted down their common and unique experiences. The data were then coded and aggregated into potential categories and ultimately into main themes were generated. I found Nivivo software very useful software to use for my study. During interviews, sometime I modify my probing questions because I found it difficult to strictly follow the interview protocol and my interview often turned into conversation because I build close relationship with participants and these relationships are still maintained by us.  This helped me a lot to get more deep information of their experiences. I transcribed every word in detail as much as possible. I structured each transcription as a theatrical script. I noted down even when participants are thinking time gaps (e.g. I wrote pause or put dots when silence/pause) or made sound (e.g. aa, aay, oo, ya). I also noted down my own observation notes when participants were happy, curious, anxious, angry or frustrated. The process of analysing or critiquing personal stories, finds the values and beliefs behind the stories shared by participants, and in other words I can say that I was re-constructing a new story which showed, these teacher’s personal and professional growth.

Recordings help me to concentrate on listening and responding to the participant, without being distracted by needing to write extensive notes. When conducting interviews, and recording, a pseudonym or number is given to the participant’s interview. A list of the participant’s real name and pseudonym were made and saved to avoid a breach in confidentiality. Heather (2014) also stated that to ensure anonymity in the transcript, a researcher should make sure that the participant’s name has been removed, as well as identifiable variables such as workplace, place of birth, profession, or any name used in the document.

After finishing my first few interviews I started examining whether it provided me enough information, whether it was what I was looking for or not, is it according to my interest, do I have to change my interview questions or do I have to push my participants to give me more about their experiences. As each interview was completed, I start examining its content to determine what has been learned and what still needs to be discovered or needs elaboration. Moving from raw interviews to evidence-based interpretations requires preparing transcripts so they will be ready to code. For the feedback I send these transcriptions to participants just to confirm whether the transcripts are to their satisfaction and bring forth their life experiences in the way they intended.

NVivo 10 Software

NVivo software supports qualitative research. The software is designed to help in organizing, analysing and finding insights in unstructured, or qualitative data. For example, in my case the lived experiences of immigrant teachers. In this software coding have three stages: open, axial, and selective. In open coding, the themes are identified and assigned codes; subsequently, in axial coding, grouping and pairing of themes are noted; then in selective coding, the themes/pairings are analyzed and their relevance, in terms of such factors as frequency, is noted. This is a commonly accepted method of data analysis for narrative inquiry studies (Webster & Mertova, 2007).

All interview transcripts were entered, and consequently coded into, NVivo- 10 computer software program. A detailed and accurate case-by-case analysis of each transcript is an extensive process; however, IPA demands that every interview was separately explored and scrutinized before surveying themes that may have emerged across all the interviews (Smyth, 2004). NVivo aides me in emphasizing particular texts, evaluating and contrasting perceptions of one participant against the others, amassing similarly-themed texts, and finally categorizing information constructed on themes that have emerged.


Every researcher faces ethical challenges while researching, in all stages of his/her study, from research designing to reporting the results of the research. These main challenges are honesty (must avoid deceit), anonymity, confidentiality, informed consent, and. respect. It is utmost importance that educators and researchers be well informed of all the different aspects of their roles when acting as qualitative researchers.

Every research student has to go through the process of ethical approval from authorities according to sensitivity and nature of study. I received ethical approval from Auckland University of technology Ethics Committee (AUTEC) (Ethics Application Number 16/249) on 19 July 2016. It was my duty to confirm that no harm would come to the participants because of my study.

In order to safeguard the identity (/confidentiality) of the participants for my study, they were informed and asked to sign a consent forms before the interview sessions took place. Therefore, in my study participants were categorized and given a pseudonym. Participants were allowed to stop the interviews whenever they wanted and to retract their offer of consent. Due to the voluntary nature of my data collection, the participants were given no incentives to participate. A tape recorder was used during all interviews, which conserve the exactitude of the participants’ words and maintain their anonymity. For further accuracy, all interviews were transcribed and given to the participants for contents confirmation. I also provided my email address and telephone number after the interview, which allowed participants to reach me so that I could address their problems or concerns.


In all research studies a researcher always bring a some set of beliefs and philosophical assumptions. As a qualitative researcher I understand the importance of beliefs, theories and assumptions because they form the foundation for my work.

Research needs to demonstrate awareness of the basic methodological assumptions employed in the study.  The assumptions and principles that inform a phenomenological study may not be based on the well-established theoretical traditions that inform each of the established approaches, but the research choices made in any qualitative study are still informed by a set of assumptions, preconceptions and beliefs. It is these influences that need to be articulated by researchers (Caelli, Ray, & Mill, 2003).

For this study, there is one major assumption. This study focuses on one type of participant – Indian immigrant teachers – in order to better understand how the processes of immigration and acculturation have influenced their teaching.  However, the participants were from different parts of India and have different social and cultural norms, which have an effect in the behavior of the participants.  However, in this research, it was assumed that participants have similar cultures and experiences.

In addition, another assumption for the research is that data acquired from the participants was considered to be reliable and true.  As the research method, will follow a qualitative approach in answering the research questions, it heavily relied on the answers based on their experiences as teachers and immigrants.  The data was considered valuable input for the analysis. Participants were considered reliable sources of information regarding immigration, acculturation, and teaching.


Guba and Lincoln paralleled reliability and validity with the concept of “trustworthiness,” which contained four aspects: credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Guba & Lincoln, 1981). Within this study, I used negative case analysis and member checking for triangulation. Denzin (1978) identifies four basic types of triangulation. He mentioned that by combining researcher (data collector), means of data collection and the philosophies, tri-angulation help in theoretically valid and effective interpretation of rich data (Denzin, 1978).

The multiple data sources included the researcher’s participant observation, as well as the narrated experiences of the immigrant teachers. I triangulated the different data sources from these different aspects to build a coherent justification for the themes, which added validity to my study.

Sometime some data give complexity while analysing but as a qualitative researcher we have to welcome these challenges because it allows to understand more deeply and it help for a subtler and nuanced analysis. Inconsistency and contradictions in the data always give rise to unexpected findings, which ultimately strengthen the research theory. Literature shows that qualitative researchers always look actively for negative-cases to support their arguments while discussing their research.  A “negative case” is one in which respondents’ experiences or viewpoints differ from the main body of evidence. When a negative case can be explained, the general explanation for the “typical” case is strengthened (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014; Patton, 1999).

Negative case analysis involves a conscious search for negative cases and unconfirmed evidence. Creswell (2003, 2009) stated that negative or discrepant information should be presented. By giving negative information that goes against a hypothesis, helps the account becomes more realistic and valid (Creswell, 2012). Lodico, Spaulding and Voegtle (2010) suggested revising the theory or providing an explanation as to why the case does not fit. Real life is the context of the proposed study. Real life context means that there are many different perspectives that do not always coincide; by adding the opposing views it will increase the study validity according to Creswell (2012).

Member checking is a process used to determine accuracy by allowing the participants access to the final report for verification (Creswell, 2012). I used member checking as a way to ensure the accuracy of my study’s findings, taking the final report to the participants so they could check for errors, which helped me to make corrections.

Moreover, the validity of the answers of the participants are considered as an uncontrollable factor in the research. Answers of the participants based on their personal experiences was difficult to track. This resulted in a compromise the integrity of the data that was used as the basis of the research. The study also limited by the sample size. Only 15 people was interviewed and the findings were not generalized.

Finally, the factors and relevant information pertaining to immigration, acculturation, and teaching were limited by the experiences of the subjects. Participants were not able to provide additional information if they have experienced different situations or scenarios handling different aspects of data analysis.


The focus of the study was only one type of participants, namely the Indian immigrant early education teacher. Moreover, all participants were from early childhood centres located in New Zealand. Other types of teachers, or teachers who have immigrated from other geographic locales, was not included in the research.

For this research, the approach was purely qualitative and was based on the experiences of the participants. No experiments were done in acquiring data.

Cultural adaptation and Bronfenbrenner Ecological Viewpoint

To analyse data Bronfenbrenner’s ecological viewpoint is considered to the best option.

Human Development Model and New Zealand Early Childhood Education

Aristotle, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refugee in adversity.” is what everybody feels now.

Culture emerges as a major obstacle: differences in values and patterns of living of immigrants and the host countries. Increasing ethnic diversity in and outside classroom reveals that immigrant children and families display distinct learning, parenting and socialization patterns which are different from the ‘norms’ that most teachers who are working in early childhood centres are familiar with (Chan, 2006). New Zealand is committed to biculturalism and ECE Te Whāriki is a bicultural curriculum that provides guidelines for bicultural practices in all early childhood services in New Zealand (Ministry of Education, 1996). Te Whāriki states that “each early childhood education service should ensure that programme and resources are sensitive and responsive to the different cultures and heritages among the families of the children attending that service” (Ministry of Education, 1996, p.18). This statement reflects the socio-cultural nature of the curriculum. This study is to see how diverse family, school and society impact directly or indirectly and are interconnected with each other. New Zealand ECE curriculum Te Whāriki basically supported and influenced by the theories of Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Jerome Bruner and Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theories (Carr & May, 2000). Principle of Te Whāriki (NZ, 2014) are:

Whakamana – Empowerment. The early childhood curriculum empowers the child to learn and grow.

Kotahitanga – Holistic Development. The early childhood curriculum reflects the holistic way children learn and grow.

Whānau Tangata – Family and Community. …

Ngā Hononga – Relationships (Diglin, 2014).

These all principle shows how community and society structures and norms are interrelated and influence each other. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s human development model also based on these norms that external and internal environmental forces influence positively or negatively human beings. Russian child psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner, synthesized the interconnectedness of the environment and human development in a domain entitled, the ecology of human development. The ecology of human development is defined as:

… the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation, throughout the life span between a growing human organism and the changing immediate environments in which it lives, as this process is affected by reflections obtaining within and between these immediate settings as well as the larger social controls, both formal and informal, in which the settings are embedded. (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, p. 513).  

The basic hidden meaning of Te Whāriki, is ‘the woven mat’ which means learning experiences to meet the learning outcomes of each strand and goal are categorised into three stages of children’s growth and development: infants, toddlers and young children (Ministry of Education, 1996), reflecting the developmental paradigm of the curriculum. ECE curriculum embrace cultural diversity which emphasis on understanding different cultural needs while interacting. Kaupapa Mäori pedagogies are concerns with the way the teachers teach including their own cultural assumptions, beliefs, values, and world view in the presence of the social and cultural backgrounds, values, practices and world views of those being taught. Teaching practise are interactive process. Pedagogy is described as ‘The art, practice or profession of teaching…the systematized learning or instruction concerning principles and methods of teaching and of student control and guidance’ (Good & Merkel, 1973, cited in Hemara, 2000, p.6). As Hemara believe that when two different world view and ways operate together contradictions arise and there is a need to understand and support the cross cultural point of view and also to understand multicultural society’s needs in a better way. Teacher’s and student’s social-cultural backgrounds, values, practices and world views interact and influence and inspire each other to understand each other point of view.

Akoranga (teachings) are – ‘the traditional teachings of a tribe, covering both the spiritual values and social rules of conduct, with particular emphasis on the ethical values which are handed down by tribal elders to succeeding generations. Such values or teachings are often specific to a particular tribal group’ (Barlow, 1991:3). Whānau Tangata believe that children’s learning and development are nurtured with family and community’s culture and knowledge and there is a strong connection and consistency between all the aspects of the child’s world. The ECE curriculum builds on what children bring in the classrooms through their experience of everyday activities and special events of families, whānau, local communities, and cultures. New Zealand education system embrace multiculturalism and it emphasis to look at wider world. It considers that education system should see the different needs and expectations of society and local communities because we are all weaved together even though different cultures have different child-rearing patterns, beliefs, and traditions and may place value on different knowledge, skills, and attitudes (Ihimaera, W. (2004).

To understand the impact and influences of inside and outside classroom environment on immigrant teachers Bronfenbrenner’s model PPCT is best suitable. Bronfenbrenner’s theory emphasis that human beings do not develop in isolation they cannot be separated from society because society is made of people. Human development is not possible without social settings because it’s the nature of human that they always interact with each other’s, narrates about their experiences in terms of stories, with their family, peers, school, neighbourhood, and society which influence each other’s life directly and indirectly. Social settings are essential to the development of people and Bronfenbrenner model comprises the linkages between two settings in terms of immediate environment and external, and help to explain the individual differences and how it effects their development (Duncan & Raudenbush, 1999).

In this study adaptation is conditioned by the differences in the two contexts of socialization, firstly socialization in their home country, and secondly, in the host country. The ecology of human development consists of four levels: the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem (Andrews, 1985; Bronfenbrenner, 1986) which help to differentiate and reconceptualization of the environmental influences from the perspective of the developing person. The microsystem consists of the … relations between the developing persons and environment in an immediate setting containing that person‖ (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, p. 514) and also contains a pattern of activities, social roles, and interpersonal relations experienced by the person in a given setting.

For this study, immediate setting entail school staff, students, student’s parents, immediate family members and their neighbourhood which influence adaptation. The mesosystem is the interrelationship among the microsystems or two settings. The mesosystem focuses on the common interactions that occur in a particular environment at a particular point in a person’s life. These reciprocated interactions occur in settings such as home, school, peer groups etc. The exosystem, an extension of the mesosystem, consists of situations that do not impact directly and it comprises the linkages and processes taking place between two or more settings which indirectly influence the immediate setting in which person lives. However, since these situations consist of smaller situations that influence the individual indirectly which can influence them positively or negatively Such situations include neighbourhoods, schools, government, mass media, stakeholder and work obligations (Howard, 1985; Bronfenbrenner, 1997).

The macrosystem refers to ―… broad institutional and ideological patterns associated with the cultural and subcultural norms that structure the lower levels of the environment‖ (Howard, 1985, p. 373). Bronfenbrenner’s ecology of human development was founded on the premise that strong, positive, connections and cooperation are helpful in development. In order to develop—intellectually, emotionally, socially, and morally—a person requires interaction with his/her new social setting which can help cross cultural adaptation more easy. Brendtro, (2006) ecological model interacts directly with the people and outside environment in the microsystems and the effects of the interaction go both ways. The theme of the ecological model is that each elements and module interacts with each other influence the life. As, in the model, people affect the child and the child has an influence on them human being influence and got influenced by their soundings and additionally nothing ever remains static. As a result, systems and environments are ever changing so as the experiences.

Human beings need stability, a sense of belonging, love, and positive, trusting bonds for development; and immediate settings play a vital role in this development (Brendtro, 2006). Social setting doesn’t mean only parents, family, teachers, but peers, community and the government also play a significant role in life of human beings and their development both positively and negatively. In addition, in order to investigate the influence of ecological factors on teacher’s experiences and adaptations, all of these social contexts must be analysed and explored. I sought to use the Bronfenbrenner framework to understand the experiences and the process of cultural adaptation.

Ecological model emphasized the role of the environment, its proximal processes, the person, environmental context and time. The proximal processes occur within the microsystem and comprise of daily immediately available tasks that directly shape development. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory has four major components: process, person, context, and time (PPCT) (Evans & Wachs, 2010). According to it immediate surrounding affect and are responsible for the development and general wellbeing. These transactions drive development in positive or negative direction. This theory is based on system of relationships that forms environment. Bronfenbrenner’s theory defines complex “layers” of environment, each having an effect and influence on each other. To study the effect of immediate and external environment, we have to consider the interaction of the larger environment as well. In 1979 Bronfenbrenner suggested that people develop within context or ecologies. This model was used to explain how family, community and culture can affect the growth and development of individuals (Jensen, 2007).

Social change has accelerated globally and these sociodemographic changes move values from more social setting to other. Adapting to new conditions, cultural values for social relationships and shift the preferred thinking processes traditional to innovative, from contextualized cognition to abstraction. The sociodemographic and cultural changes reflected on teacher’s socialization and development. Changing behaviour patterns and values shift from one rigid perspective to multiple perspectives. In Bronfenbrenner and Morris point of view human development takes place through processes of progressively and multifaceted interaction between persons, objects, and symbols in its immediate external environment. To be effective, the interaction must occur on a fairly regular basis over extended periods of time. Such continuing forms of interaction in the immediate environment are referred to as proximal processes (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecology of human development allows me to analyse the ecological factors–family, school, peers, neighbourhood, work place, the economy, etc.– that directly and indirectly influence on immigrant teacher’s cultural adaptation experiences. Moreover, his theory encompasses a vast array of social contexts that explores the interconnectivity of the environments and relationships in the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem with student development.

Figure 5 Chronosystem: Idea adopted from Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model of Human Development (1979)

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model of Human Development

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model and PPCT (process-person-context-time) have four main stages:


The relationships at this level as Bronfenbrenner called it, bi-directional. This layer has the most initial and immediate influence on the development. The microsystem consists of such contexts as family, friends, school and neighbourhood. wherein the proximal processes occur. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model of Human Development from Bronfenbrenner (1979). He believed that the way in which the individual interact with people in their immediate environment as well as how these interactions are received by these people, will have the most effect on their development. The immediate environment for the participants of this research are friends, colleagues, teachers and other social circle.


In the next level of environment in this research come mesosystem in this I in my research consider referees, co teachers, administrators, employers, employment agency, internet to find work, parents and children. Whatever happens in school affect home and whatever happens in home affect school.  Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective was seen as a way to expand attachment research because it drew attention to points that were not particularly emphasized but were thought to be implied in the theory (Belsky 2005). On the one hand this theory examines the micro-processes of development, that is, the daily interactions between parent and child, parent-teacher, teacher-teacher that foster a secure or insecure relationship depending on the sensitive, consistent, contingent and regular responses. The skills and confidence encouraged by the initial relationships will increase the person’s ability to effectively explore and grow from outside activities.


Next level of environment according to Bronfenbrenner is exosystem and an extension of the mesosystem. While it includes particular social structures, both formal and informal, that have an impact on the developing individual, it does not actually contain that individual. In this consider among others, the neighbourhood, the work world, mass media, municipal, provincial, and federal governments, the distribution of goods and services, communication and transportation facilities, and informal social networks. Even though human being does not directly encounter the system but still it impacts his development. The system contains micro and meso systems, and thereby impacts the wellbeing of all those who come into contact. For the participants of this research this might be the amount of recognition of prior learning or re-credential. It may affect their getting admission or getting employment and all these may be affected their personal life as well.


System which can solely or collectively shape development, it includes cultural customs, law of society, political upheaval or economics disruption. When a person start new life in another country, may encounter problems related to language, geography, employment, etc., contributing to an unstable environment. The macro-system is composed of cultural values and beliefs, and historical events, which may affect the other ecological systems (Brent, 2010; Lerner, Castellino, Terry, Villarruel, & McKinney, 1995).


In New Zealand this model has been used as a framework for several research projects e.g. it has been used in Te Whariki (Ministry of Education, 1996) to describe and explain how learning environment influence learning outcomes. Also used to evaluate the role of women in Samoan language nests (Utumapu, 1998), improvement of refugee children in New Zealand and by Rosenthal (Rosenthal, 2000) proposes a model of cultural attunement. By this she means that educators need to build on and extend developmental processes that have begun in the child’s home and suggests that family and educators need to form “true partnerships” (p.14) so that positive outcomes for children can be achieved. Bronfenbrenner’s perspective of development and environmental effect and interconnectedness provides an interesting and appropriate lens for my study.

Theory suggest that individuals have minimal control over what happens to them. On other hand he also said that individuals are ‘product ‘and ‘producer’ of their development course. Bronfenbrenner (Bronfenbrenner, 1995) advocated that human being is prone to external conditions and forces and it is because an individual person always exposed to them in their life. He further suggested that based on individual difference in personality, people will choose to react differently to certain situations they find themselves in and maintains that individuals are “ an active agent in and on (their) environment” (p. 634). This lens will help me to explore how immigrant teacher exposed to new society and how they got affected by it.

A qualitative research methodology was used in the study, using Bronfenbrenner’s Human development theory based on his PPCT model (Process-Person-Context-Time). PPCT model was chosen to explore the experiences of Indian immigrant ECE teachers who have immigrated to New Zealand, and how the process of immigration and acculturation affects their teaching. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews.

The interview responses of the participants served as the data for the study. Interview sessions was arranged individually, approximately lasting 45-60 minutes. Data collection was analysed, by using NVivo 10 software following Smith, Flowers and Larkin’s (2009) analysis method: (1) reading and re-reading; (2) preliminary notations; (3) detailing developing themes; (4) associations throughout themes. Themes were described while keeping in mind the concept of PPCT model and the concept of Bronfenbrenner how external environment impact participant’s experiences.


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