A qualitative validation study of Korean American college student development
Gaertner, Frank Arthur
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The purpose of this study was to validate the model of Asian American psychosocial development proposed by Kodama, McEwen, Liang and Lee (2002) as it applies to 1.5 and second-generation Korean American college students, while also exploring the role of religion in psychosocial development for these students. This study utilized a qualitative methodology using a narrative approach. Six students from one private, medium-sized institution in the southeastern United States participated in this study. In particular, the researcher investigated four aspects of the participants’ psychosocial development: the concept of students’ experiences being balanced between two cultures; the concept of their identities being central to their identities; their emotional expression and control; and their orientation as related to interdependence and autonomy. Interview data generally supported the development model. Participants reported their identities were balanced between Korean and White American culture, with different locations for different aspects of their identities. Participants stated feeling separate from Korean international students, White American students and third- and fourth-generation Korean American students, while also describing differences between themselves and their parents, who they admire greatly. Participants noted their identities were strongly connected to their purpose at this time, while male participants showed more emotional expression than female participants when recounting their stories. At this stage of their lives, participants show strong signs of interdependence with their families, although they reported some establishment of autonomy from their culture of origin. Basketball played a significant role in the identity development of several male participants, while none of the participants reported that religion played a significant role in their lives. Results of this study have importance for faculty and staff members. Significant findings to inform practice include: Korean Americans appear to be open to discussing their experiences with elders; relationships with parents are multi-faceted and highly significant; their relationships with other peer groups outside of their 1.5/second-generation cohort is complex and can be a source of conflict; and sports appear to play a significant role in Korean American male identity development.