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Title:An ecological systems theory approach to academic acculturation of female international students from the Arab Gulf
Author(s):Mayne, Dorothy
Director of Research:Dhillon, Pradeep
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dhillon, Pradeep
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Davila, Liv; Dressman, Mark; Hood, Denice
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):International graduate students, Arab Gulf, academic acculturation, Ecological Systems Theory, Academic Literacy Development, women
Abstract:This qualitative case study of female international graduate students from Arab Gulf countries explores their experiences of academic acculturation to their graduate programs, university, and community, and uses Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems model as a framework to understand these experiences. Data was collected with six participants from three Arab Gulf countries in five different fields over the course of the spring 2018 semester at a large land-grant university in the Midwest US, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Data sources included semi-structured interviews, observations, text analysis, and interviews with other stakeholders on campus. Consistent with previous literature, the analysis of the data determined that English proficiency, help-seeking behaviors, and social connections affect acculturation of some participants, but I also found that individual dispositions, educational and career goals, and the participants’ funding source are important variables that affect their acculturation. The ecological systems theory is helpful in conceptualizing participants’ microsystems and exosystems and can help reveal the complicated ways that layers of similarity and difference across levels of one’s interactions with their environment can have an impact on their perceptions and experiences. Furthermore, I found that English language proficiency was related to participants’ academic literacy development because less proficient participants were required to take ESL courses. They considered these courses to be the most helpful contributors to their academic literacy development. However, more proficient participants did not have to take ESL courses but expressed frustrations with their academic literacy development. Instead of ESL courses, more highly proficient English-speaking participants developed academic literacy through interacting with peers in their field. This study provides implications for how institutions can support students as they acculturate to their academic programs and responds to the problematized notion that they should be expected to acculturate. Implications include calls to increase hospitality towards international students on the part of students, faculty, and at the institutional level, to de-dichotomize native and non-native speakers of English, and to focus on students’ individual-level differences to understand how to best welcome and support them.
Issue Date:2019-04-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Dorothy Mayne
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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