How the Identity of Somali-American Youth Impacts Learning


Spring 2-10-2015



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Kathryn Campbell

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Nancy Albrecht

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Elisabeth O’Connell


This capstone looks at the identity questions that some Somali-American youth at an urban high school in the Midwest address as they transition into adulthood. The research considers the following question: How does the identity of a Somali-American youth impact their learning? The researcher analyzed this through interviews with Somali high school students and through surveys where students ranked their self-confidence on a Likert (psychometric) scale. The researcher also analyzed students’ grade point averages and test scores to look for possible connections between identity and traditional school success markers. This study found that although there is not a direct correlation between high self-confidence and high GPA’s and test scores, identity is defined uniquely for each Somali student and is often very closely connected to a larger community that provides academic support and confidence. This finding can help educators and researchers of Somali youth analyze how communities can help create confidence and more effective learning opportunities.


Grades/ Student Performance, Multicultural Education, Somali students, Identity

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