Becoming Educational Researchers: Stories of Asian International Doctoral Students in the United States
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Background: International education, with a purpose to reduce provincial attitudes and to adopt truly international perspectives, promotes global understanding and tackles social injustice around the world. It also exposes international students to different languages and cultures, posing both opportunities and challenges. While doctoral education should prepare the next generation of scholars, little research has touched on the experiences of Asian international doctoral students and how they make meaning of their experiences in order to become educational researchers. Purpose: To address this gap, this research explored the lived experiences that contributed to the becoming of Asian international doctoral students. The research was aimed to address three questions: 1) What are the academic and social experiences of Asian international doctoral students in the field of education? 2) In what ways do these Asian international doctoral students address challenges they encounter in their doctoral education? 3) How do they conduct their academic research and become educational researchers? Methods: Critical narrative inquiry was employed to humanize educational research, with the understanding that research is a responsibility to schools and community and its ultimate goal is improvement of education. Four Asian international students were involved in this joint inquiry. The field texts of this research mainly derived from processes as observations, interviews, conversations and reflective journals. Narrative tools employed to facilitate analysis and interpretation include broadening, burrowing, storying and restorying. Results: The stories of four international doctoral students were unraveled to delve into the miscellaneous that have comprised their lives. There was a constant negotiation between their personal and academic experiences, temporally and spatially. Challenges, aspirations and awareness were interwoven into their lives on the foreign land. Conclusion: A critical look at culture, language and power is needed to reexamine the experiences of international doctoral students. Empowerment in doctoral education includes both individual agency and institutional support. International doctoral students are changed by, and bringing changes to, international education with the cultures, languages and experiences they bring with them.