Exploring the influence of immigration on education

Exploring the influence of immigration on education

Zeynep Isik-Ercan researches the early childhood education of culturally and linguistically diverse children.

Zeynep Isik-Ercan, Ph.D.

Early childhood researcher

Areas of expertise:

Immigration, cultural diversity, pedagogy, professional development

More information

Immigration adds diversity to education. It impacts the development of the youngest students in early childhood classrooms and how they learn, said Zeynep Isik-Ercan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary Education and Critical Foundations in Rowan’s College of Education.

“By working with immigrant children and families, I’m highlighting their strengths as communities, as parents and as skillful educators of young children,” said Isik-Ercan, who immigrated to the United States from Turkey more than 20 years ago.

She has received several research grants. Rowan University’s Camden Health Initiative funded research by Isik-Ercan and her colleagues, who investigated the ecology of immigrant families and their integration into Camden. It focused on support systems and barriers for children younger than five.

She also explores how immigrant elementary and early childhood education teachers enrich education.

“These teachers are a great resource in schools, serving as cultural translators, as connectors between parents, communities and schools,” she said.

Additionally, Isik-Ercan conducts research on perspectives of diverse immigrant parents, including refugees, and will study their contributions to the success of second-generation immigrant youth.

Isik-Ercan is co-director of Rowan’s Early Childhood Leadership Institute, funded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Family Development. It provides support for early childhood education professionals and leaders.

She passionately works for progress, providing educators with tools to transform education, schools and, ultimately, society.

“There’s always a practical purpose of change and growth in individuals, whether you are looking at immigrants and what they contribute to education and society or early childhood leadership,” said Isik-Ercan, whose service on a local, state, national and global scale has been recognized with numerous awards. “There’s always a notion of what you can to do to influence people to change their practices, policies, research and implementation. That makes me really excited.”

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