ERIC Number: EJ1095363
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Mar
Remaking Selves, Repositioning Selves, or Remaking Space: An Examination of Asian American College Students' Processes of "Belonging"
Journal of College Student Development, v57 n2 p135-150 Mar 2016
The importance of "belonging" for college students has been well documented. Students' sense of belonging is closely related to their academic achievement, retention, engagement, satisfaction with student life, mental health, and overall well-being (Astin, 1993; Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Bowman, 2010; Hausmann, Schofield, & Woods, 2007; Hurtado & Carter, 2007; Johnson et al., 2007). Only a few studies have examined Asian American students' sense of belonging (Hsia, 1988; Lee & Davis, 2000; Museus & Maramba, 2010). Scholars who study Asian American college students have suggested that Asian Americans are awkwardly positioned as separate from other students of color vis-à-vis the model minority stereotype (Hsia, 1988; Lee & Davis, 2000). Furthermore, Asian Americans often are viewed as overrepresented on college campuses, yet they remain underserved by campus support programs and resources and overlooked by researchers. This study employed a case study methodology to address the following research question: How do Asian American students navigate through physical and social spaces of higher education? Data collection took place during the 2007-2008 academic year at West University (a pseudonym), a large public research institution on the West Coast of the United States. A non-probability purposive sampling technique was employed to find participants who were undergraduate students and who self-identified as "Asian" or "Asian American." A total of 36 students participated in this study--17 interviewees, 18 photo journalers, and 1 participant who did both an interview and photo journal. Of the pool of student participants, 69.4% were female and 30.6% were male. The majority of the sample (75%) were students in their third or fourth year of college. The researcher conducted a total of 18 semi-structured interviews, each lasting approximately 1.5 hours, using an interview guide. Photo journals were kept by 19 students for a minimum of one week. Photo journalers were asked to: "Take pictures of things, people, and places that have meaning and significance to you. Create photographs that help develop a portrait of you and of your everyday life." Several notable themes emerged from the interview and photo journal data that reveal how students experience various campus spaces differently and how they understand what it means for their Asian American bodies to be in those spaces. Interviews and pictures taken by student photo journalers highlighted possible reasons for students' varying levels of belonging. For many students in this study, being Asian American in this space raised questions of fit and, in many cases, a lack of fit. In certain moments, Asian American students felt as though they belonged. In other moments they felt different, judged, or out of place. This fluctuation of students' sense of belonging was particularly evident in two realms: social and academic. For these students, belonging was not a state of being to attain; rather, it was a "process" that involved remaking themselves, repositioning themselves, or remaking space to increase belonging.
Descriptors: College Students, Higher Education, Asian American Students, Academic Achievement, Student Development, Case Studies, Semi Structured Interviews, Racial Identification, Attachment Behavior, Student Attitudes, Well Being, Student Satisfaction, Learner Engagement, School Holding Power, Mental Health, Photojournalism, Undergraduate Students, Asians
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A