Understanding international students` cultural adaptation in acculturation framework
The number of international students studying in the United States has reached unprecedented levels over recent years. While the process of acculturation has been studied over this time, we argue that there has been a lack of a systematic approach that considers the impacts of the ecological context on cultural adaptation. This study examined cultural adaptation as an outcome of the acculturation process, which is impacted by the ecological context. We studied international students from multiple countries who were studying at Cornell University, which is located in the Northeastern United States. This study surveyed international students using an online questionnaire and utilized a stepwise multiple regression analysis and a principal component analysis to test our hypotheses regarding cultural distance, individual characteristics, familial context, and institutional and societal context in regard to their influence on students’ ability to adapt. We hypothesized that international students who perceived that there was a large distance between their home and host (the U.S.) country culture, a large distance between personal ideal culture and the host culture, and small distance between personal ideal culture and home culture would be less likely to adapt. Additionally, we predicted that students who were motivated to adapt, resilient, and proficient in English would also be more likely to adapt successfully. We also hypothesized that stable early family life, strong ties to family and friends in their home country, and perception of host institution and society as inclusive or exclusive of internationals would influence their adaptation. We found that students who are highly motivated to adapt to the US culture and who perceived their English skills as proficient are better able to adapt to the new culture. Also, those who had a stable early family life and those who perceived the host institution and general society as inclusive of international students were more likely to adapt to the U.S. culture. However, we did not find that resilience, strong ties to family or friends residing in the home country or perceived cultural distance were likely to lead to successful adaptation.
Psychology; Acculturation framework; Cultural adaptation; Cultural distance; Ecological context; Individual characteristics; International students
Sternberg, Robert J.Wethington, Elaine
Whitlock, Janis L.; Ceci, Stephen John
MA of Human Development
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis