Academic journal article Journal of International Students

How Tinto's Theory Differs for Asian and Non-Asian International Students: A Quantitative Study

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

How Tinto's Theory Differs for Asian and Non-Asian International Students: A Quantitative Study

Article excerpt

International students experience unique struggles in their efforts towards completing a degree (Schulte & Choudaha, 2014; National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, 2014). International students are used to a different educational system and have to adapt to engaging in an unfamiliar learning and teaching model (Owens & Loomes, 2010; Rientjes, Beausaert, Grohnert, Niemantsverdriet & Kommers, 2012; Zhou & Zhang, 2014). Furthermore, international students in the U.S. face difficulties in studying in English, as this often is their second language (Arkoudis & Tran, 2010). Moreover, students have to adjust to a new living environment (Zhou & Zhang, 2014). Settling into a foreign college community and culture might lead to disorientation and culture shock (Kell & Vogel, 2008). This makes international students vulnerable to the feeling of (cultural) loneliness and social isolation (Rajapaksa & Dundes, 2003; Sawir, Marginson, Deuments, Nyland & Ramia, 2007; Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007). These challenges international students face make them vulnerable for dropping out prematurely (National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, 2014).

While international students experience unique struggles in completing their degree, it is of great value for institutions to prevent them from dropping out. International students contribute to the American higher education in at least two ways. First, they bring in financial resources, as most international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the United States. In 2015, international students brought 30.5 billion U.S. dollars to the country's economy (Institute of International Education, 2016). Educationally, international students help to improve educational quality by providing both international and domestic students with the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with culturally diverse peers and thereby develop intercultural competencies that are necessary to function in today's globalized and international workforce and society (DeJaeghere, 2009; Gibson, Rimmington, & Landwehr-Brown, 2008).

The loss for institutions financially and academically, it is worthwhile to investigate what factors can support an institution if international students drop out is substantial and worth investigating. According to Tinto's Theory of Student Departure (1987), whether a student persists or drops out is strongly related to the students' academic and social integration. A higher degree of integration would lead to greater educational and institutional student commitment and therefore lower dropout rates. Tinto's theory of student departure was tested on different student populations, including international students in the U.S. (Mamiseishili, 2012). While there are important insights on international students and what factors support students to succeed, most of the time no distinction is made between their ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The U.S. had the highest rate growth in 35 years to a record number of 974,926 international students in the academic yeat 2014/15. The top three countries of origin of international students in the U.S. are China, India and South Korea, making up more than half of the international student population (Institute of International Education, 2016). Asian students have different ways of integrating into a new campus community, suggesting that different factors relate to their college persistence compared to Western students (Heggins, & Jackson, 2003; Li, Faye, Bradley, & Lan, 2015). As international students increasingly come from Asian countries (Institute of International Education, 2016), it is worth studying how this specific group can be supported in in their efforts towards completing a higher education degree. This study's goal is to provide more insight as to how Asian and non-Asian international students differ in academic integration, social integration and persistence. …

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