Towards understanding international graduate student isolation in traditional and online environments

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


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.


Graduate student International student Student isolation Mixed methods 



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


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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

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