Classroom Management and Socioemotional Functioning of Burmese Refugee Students in Malaysia

Colleen O’Neal, Ranga Atapattu, Anasuya Jegathesan, Jennifer Clement, Edward Ong, Asha Ganesan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Access to Malaysian government schools is prohibited for refugee children, and hidden refugee schools only reach a minority of Burmese students in Malaysia. This study used a participatory culture-specific consultation (PCSC) approach to examine the perspectives of Burmese refugee teachers on Burmese refugee student socioemotional issues and classroom management using interviews, observations, a preliminary refugee teacher focus group (N = 10: 4 men, 6 women; M age = 26 years), and a primary focus group with refugee teachers who were Burmese refugees (N = 9: 6 men, 3 women; M age = 30 years). First, themes suggested that societal pressures have an effect on the classroom environment. Second, refugee student behavior and emotions ranged from externalizing to internalizing. Third, refugee teachers relied on traditional Burmese methods for managing serious misbehavior. Fourth, with mild misbehaviors, teachers employed more “modern,” student-centered methods. Results inform culture-specific consultation designed to meet refugee education needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-42
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Educational and Psychological Consultation
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the financial, logistical, and intellectual support of the Fulbright Scholar Award program, the Fulbright New Leaders Group Young Investigator Award, and the Fulbright Alumni Engagement Innovation Award.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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