Date of Award

6-2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Studies (to 2007)

Abstract

There are more international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the U.S. than in any other country as reported by the Institute of International Education. In the 2000/01 school year, the institute estimated that 547,867 international students were studying in the U.S. Most of these students, 302,058 (55%) came from countries in Asia; and 80,584 (14.7%) came from Europe. Latin America had 63,634 (11.6%); followed by the Middle East, with 36,858 (6.7%); Africa, with 34,217 (6.2%); North America, with 25,888 (4.7%), and Oceania, with 4,624 (.8%). Ten students were Stateless. As a response to the high number of international students, an increasing amount of literature has addressed the specific needs, unique experiences, and acculturation patterns of these students (Essandoh, 1995; Hayes & Lin, 1994; Pedersen, 1991; Sandhu, 1995). Adjustment is defined as the process through which individuals become integrated into a new environment, including the satisfaction of motivations and needs. Adjustment/Acculturation research on international students has revealed that variables such as perceived discrimination, use of the English language, finances, and shorter time spent in the U.S. contribute to lower levels of adjustment. The impact of declared majors, length of stay, marital status, age, and gender in the adjustment process has also been addressed in several studies, revealing conflicting results. The purpose of the present study is to examine if and how the above five stated variables contribute to the adjustment process, using the Michigan International Student Inventory Problems (MISPI) checklist. One hundred and thirty African students enrolled at Western Michigan University for the 2000/01 academic year were surveyed to determine their perceptions of their own adjustment and acculturation processes. Statistical analysis of the data included descriptive statistics, parametric tests, t-test, and MANOVA. The major findings of the study were that African students at Western Michigan University identified the financial aid and English language adjustment areas as those with which they were most concerned and least concerned, respectively. Surprisingly, the five variables tested (age, gender, academic classification, and duration of stay in the United States) did not differentiate differences in the current sample. In summary, this study indicates that an accurate understanding of international student adjustment/ acculturation problems requires identifying variables that might influence their American educational sojourn. A qualitative research approach may help identify other unknown factors that may relate to adjustment problems as well as provide important information that may help guide the revision of the MISPI.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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