Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Robert Lake

Committee Member 1

Ming He

Committee Member 2

Sally Brown

Committee Member 3

Alisa Leckie

Committee Member 3 Email




This dissertation explores newcomer experiences of Korean young adults in middle and high schools in the Southeastern United States. Theoretically, the dissertation builds upon a wide array of literature on phenomenology, immigrant student experience, Korean student voice, and culturally responsive practice. Using intensive interviewing and grounded theory as methodologies, I explore the newcomer experiences of six Korean young adults who attended middle and high schools in Georgia and Tennessee with the intent to find out how their experience develops a culturally responsive practice for all newcomers. Korean student voice is obscured when research homogenizes Asian populations (Abelman, 2009; Lee, 2009; Lew, 2006). Newcomer voice is vital for educators, administrators, and policymakers to understand experiences of diverse populations (Carger, 1996, 2009; He, 2003; Igoa, 1995; Lee, 2009; Lew, 2006; Valdes, 1996, 2001; Valenzuela, 1999). The intention is to share and document participants’ reflections. A cycle of three interviews were conducted. In interview one, participants described experiences as students in Korea. In interview two, they described experiences as newcomers in the United States. In interview three they reflected on their experiences of studying in Korea and the United States. Interviews are coded, reviewed, and analyzed by using grounded theory methodology to identify the concurrent themes in relation to advice for newcomers. The findings are presented in these categories of advice for initial isolation of families and newcomers, the first days of school, and community supports. To address family issues of initial isolation, participants recommend newcomers share purpose and circumstances for migration and status of the family unit. This advice informs the practice of educators, administrators, and policymakers who have an obligation to know the students served in public education (Carger, 1996, 2009; Igoa, 1995; Lee, 2009; Lew, 2006; Li, 2006, 2008; Nieto, 2002; Park, Goodwin, & Lee, 2001, 2003; Shin, 2005; Valdes, 1996, 2001; Valenzuela, 1999). For the first days of schools, participants’ guidance suggests newcomers share experiences of school in Korea to assist educators in understanding the experience of studying abroad and to ease transition during the first days of school (Bae, 2009; Carger, 1996, 2009; Igoa, 1995; Malacher, 2009; Nieto, 1994; Valdes, 1996). Participants also offer guidance for newcomers by exploring opportunities for support within local and virtual communities. Participant voice reveals the varied, layered reality of newcomers in the “concrete world” (Aoki, 1992) of home, school, and community. The participant reflections on newcomer experiences offer educators, administrators, and policymakers insights into providing more culturally responsive classroom and support services for international newcomers in U. S. schools.

INDEX WORDS: Phenomenology, Immigrant student experience, International newcomers, Korean student voice, Culturally responsive practice, In-depth interviewing, Grounded theory

Research Data and Supplementary Material