Macquarie University
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Investigation of attitudes to identity, culture and language in a Coptic school community

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:19 authored by Shenouda Mansour
While there has been a substantial growth in Coptic communities in Australia, there has been limited research on these communities. The aim of this thesis is two-fold. It hopes to contribute to educators’ knowledge of student development in Coptic schools, pastoral care and curriculum considerations. The second goal is to contribute to the as yet limited study of the Coptic diaspora community. To this end, the thesis examines construction of identity in school students in a Coptic school in Sydney, Australia. The thesis asked these three research questions: 1. What are the characteristics of students, and their perceptions of the school? 2. What are students’ perceptions of their identity? 3. How do students negotiate their identity in 21st Century Australian society? To achieve this, a mixed methods approach has been taken to access both measurable attitudes and deeper perceptions, using quantitative and qualitative research designs. The quantitative survey was constructed from three established instruments, which measure ethnicity, acculturation, and level of religiosity. There were 326 participants from Year 5 to Year 12 who completed the quantitative survey and 31 parents volunteered to complete the quantitative survey. Qualitative data were collected in focus group discussions and interviews. Participants were 41 students who voluntarily participated in the qualitative focus group discussion, and 10 parents participated in one-on-one interviews. In the data, students appear to be involved with diverse multiple identity development, moving between cultures and languages, and between different environments and social activities without difficulty. The analysis also explores contradictions and ambivalence in some student data. The thesis acknowledges the role of the school in both the setting of the research, and its formative influence on students. A picture emerges of the students within their school context as the immediate research setting, but placed within supportive circles of influence which are the church, family, and community. The thesis offers an illustration of identity construction which may be of value across other diaspora groups. The thesis offers insights into student development, valuable to educational authorities towards the design of relevant quality curriculum. The thesis may inform government understanding of youth education within immigrant groups.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Findings -- Chapter 5. Parents’ perceptions of identity and school -- Chapter 6. Discussion -- Chapter 7. Conclusion -- References -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 200-211

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Educational Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Educational Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robyn Moloney

Additional Supervisor 1

David L. W. (David Lloyd William) Saltmarsh

Additional Supervisor 2

Malcolm Choat


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