Anusha Kassan

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Back to school : re-engagement from the adolescent perspective (2015)

School absenteeism and disengagement is a growing concern among adolescents in North America. However, numerous students have been successful in reengaging into school and completing their education. As such, the purpose of this research was to contribute to literature on school re-engagement by exploring an adolescent perspective of the experiences that were helpful and unhelpful in returning to school. This qualitative study employed the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT; Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009) to answer the following central research question: What meaningful experiences do adolescents perceive as influencing their high school re-engagement? More specifically, three sub-questions were addressed (a) What do adolescents perceive as being helpful in the re-engagement process? (b) What do adolescents perceive as being unhelpful in the re-engagement process? (c) What do adolescents feel would have been helpful during the time of their re-engagement? Semi-Structured interviews were conducted with 16 adolescents, ages 14-18, who had successfully re-engaged in high school after a period of problematic school absenteeism. Using a set of standardized procedures to analyze participants’ interview data, 14 meaningful categories emerged as being facilitative or hindering of the school re-engagement experience. According to participants, in decreasing order of importance, helping, hindering, and wish list categories included (a) teacher variables, (b) perspective shift, (c) emotional distress, (d) peer relationships, (e) family factors, (f) problem resolution, (g) sleep, (h) school factors, (i) consequences, (j) professional supports, (k) goal attainment, (l) extracurricular activity, (m) substance use, and (n) other priorities. Results of this study have important implications for training and practice. Moreover, directions for future research are discussed.

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Being in between : discovering the identities of emerging adult immigrants (2015)

The proposed research aimed to discover the ways in which emerging adult immigrants negotiate their cultural identities within the context of both cultural and developmental transition. Using a grounded theory research design, 10 intensive-interviews were conducted with emerging adult immigrants, ages 19-27, who had immigrated and saw Canada as their long-term home. Emerging data was analyzed and results of this study yielded a conceptual model of cultural identity formation (MCIF) for emerging adult immigrants. The MCIF suggests that One’s Motivation and Sense of Agency to Create a New Identity is at the core of participant’s navigation of cultural identities. Additionally, the MCIF for emerging adult immigrants outlined six higher-order categories (1) Family Cultural Rigidity, (2) Connections Specific to Canada, (3) Connection to a Same Cultured Community, (4) Sense of Permanency, (5) Desire to Preserve Culture of Origin, (6) Desire to fit in to Canadian Culture, as well as two overarching factors (a) Dimension of Time and the (b) Dimension of Age that were found to be influential on participant’s overall sense of cultural identities (Blended, Dual, Disconnected, Intermediate). The present model and accompanying theory contributes to a deeper understanding of the lived experiences and sense of cultural selves of emerging adult immigrants during these phases of change. Recommendations for further research are made, as well as recommendations for counsellors working with an emerging adult immigrant population.

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The experience of settlement work with LGBTQ newcomers (2015)

The purpose of this research was to contribute to the literature on migration and settlement work for LGBTQ newcomers and the service providers who support them in Canada. The study employed a descriptive phenomenological research approach to answer the following question: “What are service provider’s perceptions and descriptions of their work in supporting LGBTQ immigrant clients?” Interviews were conducted with twelve service providers working in settlement, social work, and counselling psychology, with experience working with LGBTQ newcomers ranging from fourteen months to twenty five years. Participants represented nine languages and five ethnicities, and worked within the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. Utilising Giorgi’s (2009) descriptive psychological phenomenological method, data analysis uncovered three overarching structures that captured participants’ experiences of settlement work with LGBTQ newcomers. These structures included a) service providers’ perceptions of LGBTQ newcomers’ needs and experience, b) organizational issues, and c) personal impact. This study contributes to a greater understanding of the ways in which settlement work is done with LGBTQ newcomers, and sheds light on factors that are both challenging and beneficial to their service provision work. Recommendations for further research are made, as well as specific recommendations for training and counselling psychologists working with LGBTQ newcomers.

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