Title

Deconstructing the Asian-American Student: Storytelling through Portraiture

Author

Michelle Yuan

Class Year

2015

Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Education Department

First Advisor

Maria Hantzopoulos

Abstract

The model minority stereotype was coined in 1966 to describe the Japanese and their post-World War II success, but it quickly generalized across all Asian ethnic groups. Today, although many Asians resist this stereotype, many Americans—both Asian and non-Asian—embrace it. This stereotype has a detrimental effect on the educational experiences of Asian-American students for a variety of reasons: those students who are not high-achieving have their experiences ignored; Asian students are held up to unrealistic expectations; many Asian students are cut off from resources that are available to other students of color; etc. Stereotyping is just one factor that shapes the experiences of Asian-American students in the American education system. Six Vassar College students were interviewed about the different social factors—including but not limited to immigration status, personal interests, and familial and/or parental pressure—that influenced their educational journeys thus far. Their stories told through portraiture analysis provide support for the existing literature on the Asian-American student experiences, and deconstruct the generalized and stereotyped image of what constitutes an Asian-American student. The portraits also suggest ways in which educators can improve the educational experiences for minority students, such as creating affinity spaces and restructuring the curriculum to be more multicultural and culturally sensitive.

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