Intersecting Identities and Adjustment to the Primary-Secondary School Transition: An Integrative Review

Harris, Joanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5369-1309, Nowland, Rebecca orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4326-2425 and Todd, Megan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4274-8469 (2024) Intersecting Identities and Adjustment to the Primary-Secondary School Transition: An Integrative Review. Journal of Educational Research & Practice, 14 . pp. 66-89. ISSN 2167-8693

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The primary-to-secondary school transition is a milestone for children because of the multiple changes they must navigate. Although most adjust successfully, approximately 30% of children have difficulties during this transition. Intersecting identities are also likely to influence how children navigate the adjustment of the school transfer, but there have been no syntheses of existing evidence relating to the impacts of intersectionality. We conducted an integrative review using eight databases (Education database, ERIC, ProQuest Education, PsychInfo, Scopus, SocIndex, Sociology Database, and Web of Science) and searched for quantitative or qualitative studies that examined how intersecting identities impact children’s self-concept, mental health, and adjustment of the primary-to-secondary school transition. We initially identified a total of 3,193 studies through database searches, with 1,790 remaining after deduplication. After we screened the titles and abstracts, 83 studies were included for full-text screening, of which eight met the review criteria. The studies included in the review were published between 2000 and 2018; no studies were found after 2018. Syntheses of the included studies (three quantitative studies, four qualitative studies, and one mixed methods study) revealed three themes: (1) academic and social discord; (2) defining and constructing negative identities; and (3) the female body. Our findings from the review highlighted how children with minority intersecting identities are faced with additional challenges during the transition to secondary school and how these can have negative ramifications for their self-concept, mental health, and adjustment to the transition. Future research needs to be directed away from prioritizing identities, such as gender and ethnicity, to include intersectional identities.

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