Religion in the Hallways: Academic Performance and Psychological Distress among Immigrant origin Muslim Adolescents in High Schools

Ashmeet Kaur Oberoi, Edison J. Trickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Islamic norms and Islamophobia present unique challenges for Muslim adolescents in Western countries. For Muslim students, even “secular” public schools are not a religion-free space because their religious beliefs and values are central in their manner of living. To inquire more about these issues, an exploratory sequential design mixed-method study was conducted that included focus groups and a survey addressing the public school experiences of Muslim adolescents in a Midwestern state in the United States and how those experiences are related to their academic achievement, educational aspirations, and psychological adjustment. Overall, the findings characterize this study's sample as coping well in the school context in terms of academic achievement, high educational expectations, and relatively low levels of psychological distress. However, those who experience greater frequency and severity of hassles at school report higher levels of psychological distress. In particular, the frequency of hassles associated with representing Islam, limited English competency, relations with both Muslim and non-Muslim peers, and religious discrimination at school related to increased distress. Together, these findings suggest the importance of considering both individual and ecological determinants of wellbeing for Muslim adolescents. The findings also suggest the importance of looking more carefully at the sample, context, and time when the data were collected before making generalizations within or across cultural and/or religious groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-357
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume61
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Ecology
  • Immigrant youth
  • Muslim youth
  • Muslims
  • School

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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