Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring the college experiences of students adopted from South Korea
by Nissen, Jennifer Garrett, Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2011, 310; 3458308
Abstract (Summary)

This phenomenological study focused on the college experiences of students adopted from South Korea. The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the college experiences of Korean adoptees related to their personal development and Korean cultural awareness while at a mid-sized Midwestern university. Eleven students at a land-grant institution in the Midwestern United States participated in this study. Data were collected using the three interview structure that Seidman (2006) outlined. The first interview focused on life history, the second meeting on details of their college experience, and the final interview on the meaning made of these experiences. The three interviews in the series were conducted within 1 week of each other to provide continuity from one interview to the next interview. There was no literature available on the college experiences of transracially adopted college students, so this study expands the literature in that area. The findings are organized into three sections that paralleled the interview content: youth and background experiences, college experiences, and thoughts about the future. The themes that emerged in the youth and background experiences include strong connection to family, religion as an important part of childhood, and connection to Korean culture as a child. The majority of the text focused on the themes that emerged from the college experiences portion of the interviews. The major themes included interacting with others while in college, experiencing life as an Asian person, and exploring racial and ethnic identity while in college.

In the final section, the theme focused on future plans and meaning making. The theme in this section was interest in learning about Korean culture.

The findings reflected that, although the students did develop and change while in college, they did not necessarily explore their Korean culture or interact with Koreans and Korean Americans. Typically, they did not use campus support services or the campus environment to explore the Korean culture.

The findings of this study have implications for parents of transracially adopted children, student affairs professionals, adopted individuals, and people who interact with these students. Recommendations for future research include studying students who were adopted from countries other than South Korea, interviewing students in different regions of the United States, and identifying a pool of students from urban areas to interview. It would be interesting to learn more about the college experiences of Korean adoptees as well.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Evans, Nancy J.
Commitee: Gansemer-Topf, Ann, Licklider, Barbara, Saunders, Kevin, Thompson, Ann
School: Iowa State University
Department: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian American Studies, Ethnic studies, Higher education
Keywords: Adoption, Cultural awareness, Identity development, International adoption, Korean-American, Phenomenology, South Korea
Publication Number: 3458308
ISBN: 9781124700670
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