Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology: School Psychology

First Advisor

Steven E. Landau


Legislative acts, political discourse, and social movements have highlighted how who immigrants are and where they are from play a substantial role in how they are received. Ewing (2012) noted that decisions regarding the U.S. immigration system are “often shaped more by public fears and anxieties than by sound public policy” (p. 2). The media often ignore the multiple challenges faced by immigrants and instead focus solely on their legal status (Nittle, 2012). Experiencing prejudice, on an individual and institutional level, has detrimental effects on the individual’s physical well-being, emotional well-being, and achievements and success in life. Research has indicated that teachers’ implicit attitudes have resulted in lower expectations of achievement and discriminatory discipline practices directed toward students from minority ethnic backgrounds (Staats, 2016; van den Bergh, Denessen, Hornstra, Voeten, & Holland, 2010). Studies have also shown that preservice educators view immigrant students as less competent than their native-born counterparts as well as more responsible for their academic underperformance (Froehlich, Martiny, Deaux, & Mok, 2016). As such, the purpose of this study was to examine educator attitudes toward unauthorized immigrants. In-service teachers (N = 20) and pre-service education majors (N = 20) completed a card-sorting task and several questionnaires. Stimuli for the card-sorting task were statements about immigration derived from the vernacular of media reports. Card-sorting data were analyzed with multidimensional scaling (MDS), and a two-dimensional solution was produced. Dimension 1 reflected the valence (i.e., positive or negative connotation) of the statements. Dimension 2 reflected economic and cultural issues reflected in the content of the statements. Results revealed a continuum of complexity in thinking about immigration based on the differential salience of the content vs. valence of the item stimuli. Findings indicated that in-service teachers were twice as likely to attend to Dimension 2 than pre-service education majors. Study results make important theoretical contributions to literature on teacher attitudes toward different social groups, as well as methodological contributions to the multidimensional scaling literature.


Imported from ProQuest Pecho_ilstu_0092E_10998.pdf


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