Breaching the Gap in Research on International Student Adjustment and Well-Being From Multiple Perspectives

CE Credit: 1

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Length: 50 minutes

Session offered by Division 17.

International students studying in the U.S. has increased to 690,923 in 2009/2010 and by 25% this past decade (Institute of International Education, 2010). Despite their increasing presence on U.S. campuses and unique challenges they face in crossing national boarders and encountering “cultural shock” (Chapdelaine & Alexitch, 2004; Furnham & Bochner, 1982), international students remain inadequately represented in the psychology literature. In a comprehensive review of research on international students between 1990-2009, Wang et al. (under review) found that in 12 major journals, studies on international students represented under 1% of all published articles. Based on the content analysis of 85 relevant journal articles, the authors called for additional research on international students that overcomes the lacuna in current literature by (a) adopting strengths-based and longitudinal approaches, (b) using diverse analyses (e.g. mediating/ moderating, qualitative) to better understand phenomena and develop models, and (c) challenging the homogeneity myth.

This symposium is a step in this direction and consists of four different studies that bridge the gap in the current literature on international students’ adjustment. The first study examines the predictors of international students’ well-being and acculturative stress through the lens of positive psychology. The second study adopts a longitudinal approach to studying the impact of social connectedness, perfectionism, and other variables on international students’ adjustment. The third study looks at the moderating effects of coping strategies and cultural identification on the relationship between acculturative stress and adjustment. The last study explores international students’ personal and family concerns prior to leaving for the U.S. and challenges faced after the 1st month of study using content analysis of open-ended questions. Overall, this symposium aims at disseminating recent findings on international student adjustment and well-being as well as providing directions of the kinds of studies needed to propel the research on international students forward.

Learning Objective 1
Comprehend factors that influence the adjustment process of international students and research trends and methods in studying this population.

Learning Objective 2
Share ideas of interventions and programs that may facilitate smoother transitions for international students.

Presenters: Marybeth Rigali-Oiler, MS; Kenneth G. Rice, PhD; Meifen Wei, PhD; Chu-Chun Fu, Med; Kenneth T. Wang, PhD (Chair)

Supplementary Materials

  • Breaching IS Gap