Saskias Casanova

2020 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor; Psychology
UC Santa Cruz

Project Title:  Youth Participatory Action Research, Cultural Knowledge & Resilience for (Im)migrant High School Students

Project Description: For (im)migrant students anti-immigration policy and practices negatively impact the mental health and educational outcomes (Torres, Santiago, Walts, & Richards, 2018). Students’ responses to academic stressors can be assessed through a community cultural wealth framework and strengths-based resilience lens. The Hellman Fellowship will support my study that explores how Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), at a primarily immigrant-origin, Latinx, high school, relates to students’ sense of school belonging which is positively linked to academic achievement. YPAR involves training youth to conduct research on issues related to their lived experiences and use the research to create evidence-based change, which can promote positive youth development (Ozer, 2017). Yosso (2015) argues that cultural wealth which includes familial and cultural capital can help dismantle deficit practices and incorporate more inclusive educational practices. Hence, my study examines: 1) How do (im)migrant students conceptualize their experiences with anti-immigrant policies, practices and attitudes? 2) What types of community cultural wealth do the students incorporate in the YPAR group? 3) How do these students’ interactions in YPAR relate to their sense of school belonging and resilience processes? Twenty students will be recruited to participate in weekly sessions. Student interviews and surveys will be collected and sessions will be recorded. A member of the students’ family will also be interviewed. Thematic content analysis of interviews will be conducted and triangulated with survey results. The findings from this study will better assist educators to develop more inclusive learning environments that best support student educational and developmental needs.