This study aims to explore Asian American students’ identities and their perceptions about who they are within the Midwestern American high school setting.
A naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln and Guba, 1985) is employed in this qualitative study. Naturalistic inquiry assumes that reality is constructed by individuals, and there exist multiple realities as diverse people experience teaching and learning (Glesne, 1999). It is characterized by natural settings (the schools), natural language (language actually used by students and teachers), responsiveness to concerns and issues of stakeholders (what is important to students and teachers) and collaborative checks on trustworthiness.
The study finds that the participants all identify themselves as students, while they perceive differently on their racial/ethnic and cultural identity. They have employed a variety of strategies to negotiate with their dynamic, multiple and sometimes contradictory identities when confronted with challenges and opportunities within different social contexts.
The limitations of my study lie first in a small number of participants. Eight Asian American students do not represent the heterogeneous Asian American groups in the USA. More students would provide different perspectives and experiences in the study. The time for conducting this study is another limitation. Longer period on the research sites would provide thicker descriptions.
There are implications for educational practice and future research to help understand the diversity among Asian American students and to find ways to integrate accurate and comprehensive information related to Asian Americans into the curricular with critical reflection upon the issues of race, ethnicity, culture and identity.
This study will enrich the current literature on Asian American education because there is currently limited research in this area. It will give voices to Asian American students and contribute to a better understanding of how both students and teachers are responding to the challenges faced in many schools as demographics change. It will also have implications for teacher education and encourage awareness in this field that might affect future educational practices and policies.
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