Immigration Journey Impacts on Immigrant Learners' Academic Achievement: A Phenomenological Study

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Immigrant learners face many challenges besides language. Acculturation, racism, and domestic separations affect academic achievement. The problem is teachers need a better understanding of high school students’ experience immigrating to the United States in order to tailor educational programs. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how the lived experiences of high school immigrant learners influence academic achievement. Guiding the study were Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Gardner’s multiple intelligences theories. Research questions focused on the immigration journey and schools’ initiatives to address academic achievement. The study was conducted to collect data using in-depth semistructured interviews in a Zoom meeting portal from the 15 migrant learners who are at least 18 years old and were purposively and conveniently sampled from one of the international high schools. Interviews were transcribed, and thematic analysis was used to identify themes. Template analysis allowed for the development of advanced coding or priori themes before the interview. The findings of the study are: (a) immigrant learners experienced physical and mental fatigue impacting academic achievement, (b) the prolonged absence of formal education widened the learning gap, and (c) professional development on immigration may empower teachers to advocate for students. Research data provided teachers with a better understanding of how the immigration journey impacted immigrant learners’ academic achievement. The school district’s Office of Professional Learning and Leadership may redesign professional development inclusive of strategies addressing the unique needs of the immigrant learners from Central America and Mexico. Keywords: academic achievement, immigration, immigration journey, immigrant learners, mental health, professional development