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Title: Cross-cultural transition in higher education
Authors: Schartner, Alina
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This doctoral thesis reports on a longitudinal, mixed methods investigation of the academic, psychological and sociocultural adjustment and adaptation of a multinational sample of international postgraduate students undertaking one-year taught MA degrees in the humanities and social sciences at a single British university (N = 225). Despite a considerable body of empirical research on student sojourner adjustment, longitudinal mixed methods studies are rare (Zhou and Todman, 2009). Thus, this study combined a quantitative questionnaire-based approach with a qualitative interview-based approach. The quantitative element investigated associations over time between a set of contributory factors (English language ability, prior overseas experience, pre-sojourn knowledge about the UK, autonomy in the decision to study abroad, intercultural competence, social contact, and social support) and a range of adjustment outcomes (academic achievement, psychological wellbeing, satisfaction with life, sociocultural adaptation). The qualitative element aimed to monitor students’ academic, psychological and sociocultural adjustment processes over time. A further research interest was in whether and, if so, how an academic sojourn abroad affects student sojourners’ intercultural competence. Data-collection took place over a period of 14 months and comprised three stages: in stage one (October) particpants completed a self-report survey; in stage two (October to June) a sample of 20 student volunteers participated in three waves of one-to-one interviews; in stage three (June) particpants completed a second self-report survey. Additionally, students’ academic grades were obtained from the host university (November). The study revealed a number of associations between ‘pre-sojourn’ factors, social connectedness, and students’ level of adaptation. Moreover, three distinct patterns for academic, psychological and sociocultural adjustment could be teased apart from the data though students experienced the sojourn in distinct and nuanced ways. Finally, the study provides indications for the malleable and dynamic nature of intercultural competence over time. Informed by the empirical findings and in response to the paucity of theoretical models of the international student sojourn, this study proposes a new conceptual model of student sojourner adjustment and adaptation. The suggested model shows some similarities with other models in the wider acculturation literature, but it also refines and extends these models in scope.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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