Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Rosa Jimenez

Second Advisor

Susan Katz

Third Advisor

Hsiu-Lan Cheng


This qualitative study investigated the lived experiences of Chinese international students in the United States. It focused on their academic learning, sociocultural relationship, self-reflection and their identity development. This study addressed the active role of international students as participants who can manage cross-cultural difficulties as well as make new interpretations of their life in the host country. This study adopted three theoretical frameworks - transnationalism, transformative learning theory, and social identity theory - to present the intricate educational and social context in study abroad. Through in-depth interviews with eight Chinese students at a private university in California, together with the researcher’s autoethnography, this study found that the majority of students have critical reflections on the educational differences between China and the United States in the aspects of teacher-student relationship, learning culture, and academic freedom. In the process of navigating and interpreting transnational sociocultural activities, Chinese students constructed and reconstructed their own transnational identities of being Chinese, being U.S.-educated Chinese, and being in-betweenness. The findings from the study showed that Chinese international students’ identity development is inseparable from their personality, home country influences, and multi-locality experiences, and this developmental process is in a state of flux with the changing social context.

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