An Alternative Theoretical Model: Examining Psychosocial Identity Development of International Students in the United States

By Kim, Eunyoung | College Student Journal, March 2012 | Go to article overview

An Alternative Theoretical Model: Examining Psychosocial Identity Development of International Students in the United States


Kim, Eunyoung, College Student Journal


Despite the plethora of college student identity development research, very little attention has been paid to the identity formation of international students. Rather than adopting existing identity theories in college student development, this exploratory qualitative study proposes a new psychosocial identity development model for international students as an alternative theoretical viewpoint. Based primarily on the ethnographic interview data collected from international undergraduate students at a large public institution in the Midwest, the proposed conceptual model, International Student Identity (ISI), consists of six phases: pre-exposure, exposure, enclosure, emergence, integration, and internationalization. A description of each phase is provided and implications for practice and future research are offered as well.

Keywords: international students, psychosocial identity development, cross-cultural adjustment

**********

Given the recent internationalization and globalization that has induced crossborder student mobility around the world (Altbach & Knight, 2007), the inflow of foreign students studying in the American higher education system has remained quite high. Comprising 3.5% of the U.S. higher education enrollment, more than 723,000 international students were enrolled in the United States during the 2010-2011 academic year (Institute of International Education, 2010). Growing visibility of the international student population in American higher education calls for colleges and universities to adequately serve the unique needs of these students. As the number of students studying abroad has substantially increased over the years, much scholarly attention has been paid to the issues and challenges facing international students while adjusting to a new environment (see for example Andrade, 2006; Barratt & Huba, 1994; Chen, 1999; Constantine, et al., 2005; Lee, & Rice, 2007; Lin & Yi, 1997 ; Sheehan & Pearson, 1995; Yi, Lin, & Kishimoto, 2003). Numerous studies have suggested that international students deal with a variety of adjustment concerns when studying and living abroad. These concerns are general living (e.g., adaptation to American food, living environment, transportation, climate, and financial and health care systems), academic (e.g., adapting to a new educational system and foreign language), socio-cultural (e.g., culture shock, discrimination, new social/cultural customs, norms, and regulations) and psychological (e.g., homesickness, feelings of loneliness and isolation, discrimination, and loss of identity) (Tseng & Newton, 2002). However, despite their growing presence, international students are left out of much of the literature on college student development theory in the United States. Over the last few decades, developmental research and theory has expanded with a great deal of attention paid to the areas of learning styles, cognitive thinking, and moral development, along with social identity theories of diverse student populations in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. The (re)construction of identity development plays an integral role in shaping the overall development of college students and their educational experiences during the college years. Several scholars emphasize the importance of identity development in social contexts and suggest that one's sense of self is shaped by how individuals interact with others within the environments (e.g., Erikson, 1959; Gergen, 1991; McEwen, 2003; Torres, Jones, & Renn, 2009). Despite a large volume of literature written on American college student identity development, including specific focus on subpopulations such as African American, Asian American, Latino, biracial, mixed-racial, gay, lesbian, bisexual, female, and male students, international student identity development in American higher education institutions has been largely ignored (Evans, Forney, & Guido-DiBrito, 1998).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Alternative Theoretical Model: Examining Psychosocial Identity Development of International Students in the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.