Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Drew Moser

Second Advisor

Todd Ream

Third Advisor

Steve Bedi

Abstract

International students come from cultures different from the ones predominant in small colleges in the US. Overcoming the differences during the transition to college proves critical for integration, persistence, and, more importantly, involvement and engagement. To overcome the cultural differences, international students develop bicultural competence. Bicultural competence refers to someone’s internationalization of more than one culture in order to function effectively and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships in those cultures. For international students in transition, bicultural competence involves acquiring competency in the predominant American culture in college while maintaining their identity in their heritage culture. The present study uses a phenomenological approach to explore the factors facilitating or hindering the development of bicultural competence among international students. College offers space in which pre-arrival experiences, personality type, exposure and support, autonomy, and sense of purpose play a critical role in facilitating or hindering the development of bicultural competence among international students.

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