Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Wait

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Melanie Wamke


Experiences and perceptions among a group of Korean international students studying in the United States were examined in terms of friendships and student faculty relationships. The study used a qualitative approach and was guided by cross-cultural and cultural learning perspectives. Semi-structured interviews conducted in the Korean language were used for data collection. From a research population of 72 Korean international students enrolled at a large Midwestern university, 24 were selected using purposeful sampling, 6 from each of the four identified subgroups. These subgroups were male and female undergraduates and male and female graduates.

Participant experiences and perceptions concerning closest friendships with Koreans back home and those concerning relationships with American and co-national peers were compared. Terms of comparison included relationship durability, mutuality, instrumentality versus affectivity, and confrontation/conflict management. Also compared were participant experiences and perceptions concerning Korean faculty with those concerning American faculty. Salient aspects compared were guidance/leading, tending, role-modeling, and being authoritarian versus being egalitarian. Individual variations were described according to participants’ conceptions and personal preferences, within the dimensions of interpersonal boundaries and personal autonomy.

Valuing of relatedness and interdependence emerged as an overriding theme. However, differing visions and preferences were expressed concerning the specific terms of interpersonal relating. American peer groups were perceived as overemphasizing autonomy, whereas co-national peer groups were perceived as overemphasizing relatedness, with neither group adequately honoring both. The ideal professor was envisioned as competent, caring, and authoritative. American faculty were perceived as overlooking students’ needs for relatedness, whereas Korean faculty were perceived as neglecting autonomy. Perceptions of Korean versus American cultural norms considerably overlapped. However, personal evaluations and reactions concerning these norms evidenced substantial variability. Both male and female participants evidenced strong, positive orientations toward relatedness. However, women, more often than men, explicitly voiced yearnings for balance between support for relatedness and support for autonomy within interpersonal contexts. The construct of cheong, or human sentiment, emerged as the most prominent Korean representation of human relatedness.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access