Advertisement

Towards understanding international graduate student isolation in traditional and online environments

  • Elizabeth A. Erichsen
  • Doris U. Bolliger
Research Article

Abstract

A mixed-methodology approach was employed to gain a better understanding of international graduate students’ perceptions of academic and social isolation, both in traditional and online environments, to see if these differ, and to explore suggestions for improving their sense of engagement within their learning communities. A survey was completed by 54 respondents and ten individuals participated in focus group sessions or individual interviews. The results show that international students, both in traditional and online programs, experience/perceive high levels of isolation, academically and socially. However, online international students may feel even more isolated than their traditional counterparts. The independent variables gender, type of degree, and family presence appear to also have some influence on some of the respondents’ answers. Participants suggested several types of potential interventions they would find useful.

Keywords

Graduate student International student Student isolation Mixed methods 

Notes

Acknowledgment

The authors would like to thank the College of Education at the University of Wyoming for its generous financial support of this project.

References

  1. Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2008, November). Staying the course: Online education in the United States, 2008. Needham, MA: Sloan Consortium. Retrieved 23rd Jan 2010, from http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/staying_the_course.pdf.
  2. Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (4th ed.). New York: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, L. (2007). A consideration of the challenges involved in supervising international masters students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(3), 239–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Byram, M., & Feng, A. (Eds.). (2006). Living and studying abroad: Research and practice. Toronto: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  5. Council of Graduate Schools. (2008). Findings from the 2008 CGS international graduate student admission survey. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved 21st July 2008, from http://www.cgsnet.org/Portals/0/pdf/R_IntlApps08_I.pdf.
  6. Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Cross, K. P. (1998). Why learning communities? Why now? About Campus, 3(3), 4–11. Retrieved 10th March 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.Google Scholar
  8. Flick, U. (2006). An introduction to qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Hudson, B., Hudson, A., & Steel, J. (2006). Orchestrating interdependence in an international online learning community. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(5), 733–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Institute of International Education. (2006). Open doors online: Report on international educational exchange. New York: Author. Retrieved 21st July 2008, from http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/?p=89206.
  11. Institute of International Education. (2007). International student enrollment in U.S. rebounds. New York: Author. Retrieved 21st July 2008, from http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/?p=113743.
  12. Ives, G., & Rowley, G. (2005). Supervisor selection or allocation and continuity of supervision: PhD students’ progress and outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 30(5), 535–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kinnell, M. (Ed.). (1990). The learning experience of overseas students. Bristol, PA: Society for Research into Higher Education.Google Scholar
  14. Klineberg, O., & Hull, W. F. (1979). At a foreign university: An international study of adaptation and coping. New York, NY: Praeger.Google Scholar
  15. Ku, H. Y., Lahman, M. K. E., Yeh, H. T., & Cheng, Y. C. (2008). Into the academy: Preparing and mentoring international doctoral students. Educational Technology Research and Development, 56, 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ladd, P., & Ruby, R. (1999). Learning styles and adjustment issues of international students. Journal of Education for Business, 74(6), 363–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee, A. (2008). How are doctoral students supervised? Concepts of doctoral research supervision. Studies in Higher Education, 33(3), 267–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Manathunga, C., & Goozee, J. (2007). Challenging the dual assumption of the ‘always/already’ autonomous student and effective supervisor. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(3), 309–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maslow, A. H. (1943). The theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McClure, J. W. (2007). International graduates’ cross-cultural adjustment: Experiences, coping strategies, and suggested programmatic responses. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(2), 199–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McNamara, D., & Harris, R. (Eds.). (1997). Overseas students in higher education: Issues in teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Okorocha, E. (1996). The international student experience: Expectations and realities. Journal of Graduate Education, 2(3), 80–84.Google Scholar
  25. Park, K. (2002). Transformative learning: Sojourners’ experiences in intercultural adjustment. Ph.D. dissertation, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, IL, USA. Retrieved 30st Dec 2007, from ProQuest Digital Dissertations.Google Scholar
  26. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Poyrazli, S., & Kavanaugh, P. R. (2006). Marital status, ethnicity, academic achievement, and adjustment strains: The case of graduate international students. College Student Journal, 40(4), 767–780.Google Scholar
  28. Reynolds, A. L., & Constantine, M. G. (2007). Cultural adjustment difficulties and career development of international college students. Journal of Career Assessment, 15(3), 338–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Richards, C., & Ridley, D. (1997). Factors affecting college students’ persistence in on-line computer-managed instruction. College Student Journal, 31(4), 490. Retrieved 4th Feb 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.Google Scholar
  30. Schinke, R. J., & da Costa, J. (2001). Considerations regarding graduate student persistence. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 47, 341–352.Google Scholar
  31. Senyshyn, R. M., Warford, M., & Zhan, J. (2000). Issues of adjustment to higher education: International students’ perspectives. International Education, 30(1), 17–35.Google Scholar
  32. Shaw, S., & Polovina, S. (1999). Practical experiences of, and lessons learnt from, Internet technologies in higher education. Educational Technology & Society, 2(3), 16–24. Retrieved 28th July 2008, from http://www.ifets.info/journals/2_3/stephen_shaw.pdf.
  33. Smith, T. B., & Shwalb, D. A. (2007). Preliminary examination of international students’ adjustment and loneliness related to electronic communications. Psychological Reports, 100(1), 167–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Terry, N. (2001). Assessing enrollment and attrition rates for the online MBA. Technology Horizons in Education Journal. Retrieved 27th July 2008, from http://www.thejournal.com/articles/15251.
  35. Tomich, P., McWhirter, J., & King, W. (2000). International student adaptation: Critical variables. International Education, 29(2), 37–46.Google Scholar
  36. Tompson, H. B., & Tompson, G. H. (1996). Confronting diversity issues in the classroom with strategies to improve satisfaction and retention of international students. Journal of Education for Business, 72, 53–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wille, H., & Jackson, J. (2003). Understanding the college experience for Asian international students at a midwestern research university. College Student Journal, 37(3), 379–391.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Human Development and EducationNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Professional Studies, College of EducationUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

Personalised recommendations