Reach Across Cultures: Encouraging International Student Persistence

Reach Across Cultures: Encouraging International Student Persistence

Vicki L. Marshall (Lamar Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4108-1.ch014
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The purpose of this chapter is to suggest personal and academic practices that will encourage international student persistence in post-secondary institutions. International students who enroll in U.S. post-secondary institutions face barriers that may prevent persistence; therefore, faculty have a responsibility to exercise intercultural competence and to help international students overcome those barriers. These suggestions are derived from Marshall's phenomenological qualitative study in which successful global educational leaders from eight different states described their own personal and academic practices. Personal practices that led to intercultural competence of educational leaders included C.O.R.E. values: compassion, open communication, respect, and an ethnorelative attitude.
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Despite reports that international student enrollment in the United States decreased by 5% in 2018-19, there are still over one million international students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions, (Institute of International Education, 2019). International student enrollment in U.S. post-secondary institutions creates economic, social, and academic benefits for international students, host institutions, and American students (Andrade, 2006; Lee & Rice, 2007; Mamiseishvili, 2012; NAFSA, 2019; Rai, 2002; Sherry, Thomas, & Chui, 2010; Toyoshima, 2007; Wang, 2009). Therefore, it is essential for international students to persist to completion once they are enrolled in U.S. post-secondary institutions.

Despite the economic, social, and academic benefits of international students attending U.S. post-secondary institutions, international students face multiple barriers, especially during their first year of enrollment (Andrade, 2006-2007; Poyrazli & Grahame, 2007; Wang, 2009). Even though international students bring with them “entry characteristics” (i.e.; level of commitment, familial support, cultural background) that contribute to their ability to persist (Andrade, 2006-2007, p. 58), they must academically and socially adapt and integrate into the host university’s culture in order to persist (Andrade, 2006-2007; Mamiseishvili, 2012). However, international students must not be required to do all the adapting necessary for integration in U.S. post-secondary institutions; institutions are responsible for providing the international students with adjustments needed for success (Mamiseishvili, 2012; Sherry, Thomas, & Chui, 2009).

Faculty are “the main engines” in post-secondary institutions (Galinova, 2015, p. 31). Therefore, faculty have a responsibility to develop intercultural competence that will equip them to encourage international student persistence in U.S. post-secondary institutions. Marshall (2016) identified four “C.O.R.E. personal practices” and five academic practices that will enable faculty to “REACH” across cultures to encourage international student persistence.

Key Terms in this Chapter

U.S. Post-Secondary Institutions: This term is used to include both two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Host Institutions: U.S. post-secondary institutions that accept international students and enroll them in academic programs.

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