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A Qualitative study of international students' perceptions of academic and social needs being attended to by professionals at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Herlevi, Chrystal M.
Nicklaus, Nick; Vahala, Mary E.; Bakkum, Chris; Colclough, William
MS, Education--College Student Development and Administration
Students, Foreign -- Wisconsin -- La Crosse -- Attitudes.; University of Wisconsin--La Crosse -- Faculty.; University of Wisconsin--La Crosse -- Students -- Attitudes.
This case study was designed using interviews and a positioned subjects approach to investigate perceptions of international students concerning their academic and social experiences at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L). The study explored the following research questions: (1) What factors play a role in international students' initial adjustment and expectations / goals at the UW-L? (2) What have international students experienced academically and socially and what do they perceive as their most important academic and social needs? (3) How have international students perceived academic and social interaction and support by professionals and other students? and (4) What additional support strategies can professionals implement to assist with the academic and social adjustment and development needs of international students? Utilizing a purposeful sampling procedure, ten male international students and six female international students who were enrolled in an advanced speaking English as a Second Language (ESL) course were interviewed in the Spring of 1999. The data were analyzed by identifying themes, which emerged from the transcribed interviews and supplemental sources of evidence based on the research questions of the study and specific coding categories. The coding categories used in this study were perspectives held by participants, participants' way of thinking about people and objects, and participants' relationships and social structures. This case study suggested that international students at the UW-L perceived their academic and social experiences and needs to be important in their adjustment to the university. Findings supported that initial adjustment and expectations / goals were related to cultural and developmental factors and language and academic concerns. Participants' academic experiences were positive with professionals and in classroom experiences. Social support from other international students, from professionals and students who provided information about social activities on campus, and from the residence hall environment were positive. Recommendations were made for additional, narrowed and longitudinal comparison studies centered on these issues. Continual assessment of the academic and social needs of international students, and further research on the adaptation and development of international students, with particular emphasis on psychosocial and stage development is also recommended.
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