A phenomenological study of Asian graduate students' identity formation in art education and art management programs in the United States
Huang, Susan Shu-Chih
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This phenomenological qualitative research project focuses on the attitudes of Asian students studying art education/ art management in a large southeastern university in the United States. It presents student responses to questions designed to elicit the impact of cultural, family, and personal influences on the formation of personal identities. The researcher presents an overview of the literature on identity formation and provides findings related to the impact of the experience of studying in a foreign culture from the viewpoints of the Asian students in her study. Although data analysis showed no consequential relationship between art and identity, the multicultural American learning experience is shown to have both positive and negative influence on the evolution of Asian students’ concepts of identity. Concerning the positive influence, this learning experience helped these particular Asian students have evolving concepts of their identity and also helped them recognize their role in preserving their native cultures. The negative influence centers around negative experiences the students have had in this learning environment that have affected their confidence, beliefs, and values. Additionally, the concept of survival ability in the United States dominates their responses. This concern not only restricted the students’ identity development but also serves as an obstacle in their potential to succeed in many aspects of life, including the devaluation of their ability to contribute positively to the American educational system while they struggle in the assimilation process. This research stresses the importance of the fact that the concept of art playing a significant part in establishing Asian students’ identity in this particular study was not realistic. Because of the power of the environmental reality and different characteristics people have, identity cannot be simply established by any particular single subject or discipline, but is accumulated by many factors in life. The study emphasizes the need for both Americans in higher education and Asian students themselves to understand the contribution Asian students can provide in this multicultural learning environment.