An Innovative Model to Design an Academic and Social Development Program for International College Students

By Eldaba, Abir | College Student Journal, June 2016 | Go to article overview

An Innovative Model to Design an Academic and Social Development Program for International College Students


Eldaba, Abir, College Student Journal


The globalization of economies and societies has created many positive influences on American universities. One relevant influence is increasing the number of international students. Conversely, these students encounter many social and academic challenges. Therefore, universities should adapt their programs to assist international students in adjusting successfully to their new social and academic environments. This paper proposes an innovative model to design a program that intensifies international students' academic and social experiences on campus. The proposed model includes strategies for institutional academic and social change to address students' needs.

Educators and researchers have advocated internationalization in higher education due to the growing prevalence of globalization. As a result, postsecondary institutions around the world have promoted and expanded international activities, such as study abroad programs and international faculty research. Altbach (2004) defined globalization as "the broad economic, technological, political, cultural, and scientific trends that directly affect higher education and are largely inevitable" (p. 5). This general definition of globalization expresses how these trends unavoidably affect higher education. Globalization's implications involve the use of the English language as the common scientific language, the exchange of researchers and scholars, and the education of people for the global economy. In order to fully comprehend why globalization is important and how it is accomplished, one must first understand the meaning of internationalization in relation to higher education. According to Altbach, internationalization consists of "policies and programs adopted by governments, and by academic systems and subdivisions to cope with or exploit globalization" (p. 6). Related policies include developing programs for international students and incorporating global perspectives into college content. Internationalization has the potential to provide unique opportunities for diverse students to collaborate in research and learning regardless of different cultures or languages. Subsequently, the internationalization within our colleges and universities leads to the creation of highly educated personnel, which is one of the most important aspects of globalization in our world.

Over the last a few decades, the population of international students has increased rapidly in the United States (U.S.) universities. This growth, due to the global movement, is congruent with trends across the world. The number of international students in U.S. colleges and universities climbed to 974,926 in the 2014-2015 academic year, an increase of 10% from the previous academic year (Institute of International Education, 2015). This international student increase positively impacts the U.S., considering the students contributed more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014 (IIE, 2015). Advocating for international students is important for the U.S. economy and for enriching American colleges with diverse population, cultures, skills, and knowledge. Furthermore, international students bring diversity into teaching and research on campuses (Lee, 2007). Thus, the presence of international students in American universities represents one of the essential components in building a global society.

International students endure several challenges that may affect their academic and social development in the new environment. Researchers have described many of these challenges including students' difficulty in establishing positive relationships with American peers, instructors, and administrators (Lee & Rice, 2007). Other studies found that international students' unfamiliarity with American social and academic environment led to lack of students' participation in class activities as well as difficulty in developing rapport with American classmates (Alazzi & Chiodo, 2006). Additionally, Hinchcliff-Pelias and Greer (2004) determined that international students lacked confidence in their language and communication abilities. …

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