SSWR Doctoral Student Spotlight

The SSWR Doctoral Student Members Task Force is launching a new series featuring research conducted by doctoral students. The series is intended to bring awareness and attention to the research being done by social work doctoral students, as well as important issues in the field. One spotlight piece will be featured each week on the SSWR Doctoral Student Member Blog & Facebook Page during the fall 2018 semester. 

Eliminating Classroom Isolation for Immigrant Students

Student Researcher: Kerri Evans, MSW, LCSW, Boston College

Kerri Evans

Kerri Evans

About the Researcher: Kerri Evans is a doctoral student at Boston College and her research focuses on creating welcoming school environments for immigrant students. Previously, she earned an MSW from the University of Maryland, and spent eight years working at the intersection of immigration and child welfare as a macro social worker.

Description of the Study: In this study I aim to better understand the facilitators and barriers to inclusive classrooms for immigrant students. Using the Health Behavior in School Children 2009-2010 data, I will assess the predictors of peer support in the classroom for immigrant students at the individual and school level.

Inspiration for the Study: When working, immigrant adolescents often spoke about the struggle to make friends, avoid bullying, and feel welcome in school. Throughout my career, I aim to improve school climate for newcomers.

Methodological Approach: Utilizing cross-sectional data (1,068 immigrants in US schools), I assess the influence of urbanicity, bullying prevention programs, bullying victimization, school counselors, and demographics on classroom peer support with HLM analyses.

Findings: Preliminary results show that bullying victimization (p<.001), race (p<.001), and age (p<.05) are significant predictors of peer supports in the classroom across all immigrant students and all schools.

Implications: With the immigrant population in the US on the rise, social workers need to advocate and strive for better inclusion and integration of immigrant children. Better understanding the predictors of positive peer support in the classroom can help staff to design interventions and assist youth in expanding their social networks.

Questions or comments for Kerri? Email her: