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The Significance of Asian/American Representation in EPPs and Description of Study

Article 5 of Exploring Leadership Diversity in Educator Preparation Programs: An Asian/American Perspective

The “Exploring Leadership Diversity in Educator Preparation Programs: An Asian/American Perspective” series is a multi-article study that aims to share the discoveries of a yearlong study that Nicholas D. Hartlep, Ph.D., and Rachel Endo, Ph.D., undertook during the 2023–2024 academic year. Their qualitative study explored the experiences of current and former Asian/American Education Preparation Program (EPP) leaders via surveys and interviews. Join AACTE for the “Building Intentional Pathways for Asian/Americans and Other BIPOC Faculty to Advance in EPP Leadership,” webinar, an opportunity to delve deeper into themes beyond those explored in the series. Register now for this insightful session on May 29 at 12 p.m. EST.

When the study was being designed, it was determined early on to include an advisory board that would help peer-review its design, execution, and text. The co-authors sought current and former Asian/American educator preparation program (EPP) leaders to be on the board as well as subject-matter experts on the Asian/American education experience. Ethnic, gender, and generational balance and institutional and geographic representation were also included in the study. In the end, the following scholar leaders were on the advisory board (see Supplemental Advisory Board Members).

To collect data about the complex experiences of current and former Asian/American leaders in EPPs in the United States, the authors developed an initial dataset of (n = 66) leaders who identified as Asian/Americans. For this study, “leader” was anyone who currently, or in the past, worked within an EPP, and held titles such as department chair, assistant or associate dean, dean, director, assessment and accreditation specialist, and so forth. Note: we intentionally decided to focus on Asian/American and not Pacific Islander leaders, due to the fact that scholarship indicates they are separate groups. As Hall (2015) famously wrote, “Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders Are Not Asian Americans, and All Pacific Islanders Are Not Hawaiian.”

Because EPPs are diverse in structure and the roles and responsibilities that leaders with designated titles have within them, the co-authors attempted to be as inclusive as possible in terms of inclusion criteria. The co-authors were mostly interested in “leaders” identifying as Asian/American who directly or indirectly influenced accreditation processes, had budgetary oversight, were responsible for hiring faculty and/or staff, and/or attended consequential meetings with state and national accreditors. The advisory board proved valuable in the location of identifying eligible EPP leaders.

Details of the study participants who were interviewed (n = 12) for this article are shared in Table 1. The authors’ initial database of current and former EPP leaders was cross-referenced with others in the field — a “snowball” sampling approach to locate more eligible participants was employed. A flier was created and advertised by AACTE at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, as well as on various AACTE-run social media outlets like its blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Recruitment emails were also sent to EPP leaders who were thought to be Asian/Americans (see Recruitment Flier) and other means, such as direct outreach to American Educational Research Association (AERA) divisions and special interest groups (SIGs), and other relevant professional organizations. The researchers also utilized LinkedIn for searches.

See Table 1 for more information on interveiwed EPP leaders.

Note: In lieu of traditional pseudonyms or codes, labels, such as Man 1 or Woman 2 are used to protect the identities of the EPP leaders while also avoiding Anglicizing given names. Due to the small numbers of Asian/American EPP leaders nationally, we used broad categories such as “Southeast Asian” rather than Cambodian, Hmong, Vietnamese, etc. First (1) generation refers to those who are immigrants (foreign-born). 1.5 generation refers to those who came to the United States before the age of 12 but could include first generation. Second (2) generation refers to those with at least one foreign-born parent. Third (3) and fourth (4) generation include those with two U.S. native parents. The co-researchers do not use the qualifier “interim” as some of the EPP leaders are/were interim.

An online survey was developed by the co-authors with the assistance of AACTE and the Advisory Board, which was sent to all the participants in the database. The research questions (RQs), survey instrument, and Zoom interview questions were all reviewed by the Advisory Board and AACTE. The (n = 66) study participants who were identified in the database were sent the survey, which ended by asking if they would be willing to be interviewed by the co-authors via Zoom. Of the twelve individuals surveyed, eleven successfully answered one or more items. Of those who responded, six identified as women and five as men. Three of the eleven identified as first-generation Americans (i.e., immigrants) with the majority identifying as second-generation. Only two of the eleven participants identified as first-generation college students.

In the end, twelve (12) current/former EPP leaders were interviewed on Zoom. Their recorded interviews were professionally transcribed by Rev and were later analyzed by the co-authors. Once the twelve (12) Rev-produced transcripts were received, the co-researchers modified the transcripts by clicking on the layout tab in the Microsoft Word ribbon. The co-researchers chose the “restart each page option,” and then converted the documents into PDFs. The PDFs were reviewed together as a team during three (3) research meetings. At the meetings, the co-researchers read the transcript. When salient topics emerged, they developed an initial set of open codes that were further developed into themes (Creswell, 1998). When a theme was agreed upon, the research team recorded specific quotes using the following convention: Name of Interviewee, the theme/s, the page/line number(s), such as the following example: “I think I had a great mentor [during ACE] who prepared me well, especially for crisis management.” (Man 3, Mentoring, p. 5, lines 36-39).

The researchers then further explored patterns across experiences with attention to AsianCrit themes, either salient to any of the seven core tenets or contradictory to a tenet or tenets. Once all twelve (12) transcripts were reviewed and notes were taken, the co-researchers shared the initial thematic coding scheme with the advisory board and elicited their feedback on what to add, edit, or remove. Their analysis and findings are shared in the next section of this Critical Inquiry Paper.

In the next article (6 of 6), the authors share further findings and discoveries of their yearlong study.


Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Sage.

Hall, L. K. (2015). Which of these things is not like the other: Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are not Asian Americans, and all Pacific Islanders are not Hawaiian. American Quarterly, Vol. 67(3), 727–748.

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