Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Emerging civic identity: Understanding the experiences of Chinese international students in a private American secondary school and their development of civic identity
by Kuder, Richard D., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 168; 10244546
Abstract (Summary)

Students of 21st century educational trends will note that in an increasingly global society, an unprecedented and increasing number of students are studying internationally (SVEP, 2014). The majority of those students are coming from China to the United States. Interest and enrollment in American educational institutions has gradually moved from graduate institutions, to colleges, to secondary schools. These students arrive in American secondary schools with conceptions about what it means to be a citizen and a perspective of themselves as citizens based on their past experiences at school and in society in China. As students in American schools, they learn about democracy and what it is like to live and interact in a democratic context in and out of the classroom.

My research focused on how twelve international students from China, studying at a private secondary school, described their past and current civic experiences and how these experiences shaped their conception of citizenship and civic identity. In order to accomplish this, I interviewed the students using a semi-structured interview protocol, conducted focus groups, and utilized observational methods to collect the data for the study.

The study revealed that, due to their previous experiences, these students initially had great difficulty thinking and conceptualizing citizenship and civic identity in a broad context. The students lack of exposure to democratic normative behavior and minimal opportunities for civic engagement narrowed their initial conception of citizenship to the right of birth, and personally responsible behavior. My research also revealed that their experiences in school in the U.S. allow them to broaden this view to include not only personally responsible behavior, but also strong participatory behavior and the development of democratic skills and dispositions. Additionally, my research revealed that students engagement in school, in the classroom, in co-curricular activities and in service learning experiences contributed to the overall development of their civic identity.

Emerging from this work are several conclusions that may contribute to how schools with international students, especially ones where democratic norms are not well established, address the engagement of these students in school and in the classroom.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ben-Porath, Sigal R.
Commitee: Patterson, Timothy, Pupick Dean, Christopher
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, School administration
Keywords: Chinese international students, Citizenship education, Civic identity, Climate and culture, International education
Publication Number: 10244546
ISBN: 978-1-369-46898-4
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