Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Minsuk Shim


Research on Asian American college students’ experiences with racial ethnic microaggressions and their coping strategies is scant. The present study examined how Asian American college students (N = 222) experienced racial ethnic microaggressions, identified engagement or disengagement strategies for coping with discrimination, and if the coping strategies affect students’ psychological well-being. Along with providing demographic information, participants completed three instruments, the Racial Ethnic Microaggressions Scale (REMS: Nadal, 2011), the Coping with Discrimination Scale (CDS: Wei, Alvarez, Hu, Russell, & Bonett, 2010), and the Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB: Ryff, 1989). Participants also provided responses to two open-ended questions about how the experiences of Racial Ethnic Microaggressions affected their college and their daily life experiences.

Descriptive statistics showed the following; first, Asian American college students in this study reported experiencing racial microaggressions in the Invalidation subscale most frequently. Open-ended responses revealed five themes: Exoticization/Similarity, Targeting by Professors, Model Minority Myth, Social Isolation, and Self-Censorship. Second, participants utilized more engagement coping strategies specifically within the education/advocacy subscale when faced with racial ethnic microaggressions. Third, in general, participants felt better about their development as a person (personal growth) rather than about their ability to manage their surrounding environment (environmental mastery).

Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that when students experience racial microaggressions, specifically within the Invalidation subscale, they make more us of engagement coping strategies. Moreover, the use of disengagement coping strategies was a significant predictor of Asian American college students’ psychological wellbeing. Implications of the findings along with the limitations of the study are discussed. Recommendations for future research are also presented.



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