Perceptions of bicultural accommodation: a critical examination of the academic, cultural, and social experiences of Sikh college students

This qualitative study critically examines the academic, cultural, and social experiences of Punjabi Sikh American students in a Northern California community college to identify factors that promote or inhibit their progress and success. The theoretical framework guiding the research included AsianCrit, a variant of Critical Race Theory, and Model Minority Theory. Employing a phenomenological approach, individual, face-to-face, in-depth interviews of ninety minutes in length were conducted with a purposeful sample of twelve Sikh college students that included students of both genders. Thematic analysis was conducted on interview transcripts. Four themes describe academic factors that affect Sikh students' progress and success: A lack of college readiness; Language and culturally-embedded curricular content challenges; Sources of academic support; and Interactions with instructors. Cultural factors affecting Sikh college students' progress and success are of four types: Assumptions related to Model Minority Theory; Parental expectations and influence; Significant cultural values, including familial connection, respect, and financial security; and Cultural accommodations and adaptations. Student narratives concerning social factors that affect them yielded two themes: Social relationships and Racism/Concern for Personal and Family Safety. Findings demonstrate that microaggressions against Sikh students occur in all three aspects of their lives explored in this study, a factor that inhibits their academic progress. A Critical Race Theory lens reveals that Sikh students routinely experience discrimination from instructors, counselors, and other students. Applying AsianCrit specifically identifies microaggressions based on Model Minority Theory assumptions. Sikh students draw strength from their close-knit familial and cultural connections. Their parents are a significant source of support. For some, cultural pride and a sense of belonging within the family and the culture are a platform from which they operate. These factors promote their progress and success.