Conceptualizing stress and coping strategies of Korean social work students in the United States: A Concept mapping application

Jong Serl Chun, Dennis L. Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The number of Asian international students pursuing graduate degrees in social work in the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent years, especially among Koreans. Despite the growth and the need for culturally competent practices in higher education, no research has been devoted to the adjustment problems of this population. This study is the first of its kind in exploring stress and coping strategies of Korean international students in graduate social work education. Concept mapping revealed five major clusters of stressors: academic problems, financial difficulties, cultural barriers, psychological problems, and family concerns. Five major coping strategies emerged as well: psychological coping, physical coping, problem solving, social support, and entertainment. Social work schools and departments should demonstrate cultural competence with this population by providing support services to help these students cope successfully with their new environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Teaching in Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Korean economy has developed significantly in the past several decades, allowing many students to access the benefits of advanced education in the United States or Europe (Seo, 2005). The number of international students in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years, from 154,580 in 1975 to 565,039 in 2005 (Institute of International Education, 2005). Influenced by the recovery from the Asian financial crisis, South Korea has been one of the leading countries of origin for international students (Institute of International Education, 2005), particularly for advanced studies in social work. Internationals comprised 13.1 percent of doctoral social work students in 2000 (Council on Social Work Education, 2002a), and approximately half of international doctoral students originated from Korea (Korean American Social Work Educators Association, 2002).


  • Concept mapping
  • Coping
  • Korean students
  • Social work education
  • Stress


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