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Title:Intercultural communication and adaptation: A longitudinal study of Taiwanese graduate students' sojourning experiences in a Midwestern American university
Author(s):Chang, Shau-Ju
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Delia, Jesse G.
Department / Program:Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Speech Communication
Education, Higher
Abstract:The study investigated twenty Taiwanese students' adaptation during their first year of graduate study in a Midwestern American university. The students were balanced between the sexes and natural sciences vs. social sciences-humanities. Interpretive qualitative methods were employed. Three in-depth interviews were conducted with each of the twenty Taiwanese graduate students over a period of six to seven months. An integrative approach was adopted which conceptualized sojourner adaptation as an intercultural experience involving different temporal stages and multiple adaptational domains. The temporal stages explored included the predeparture, process, and assessment phases. The adaptational domains investigated were (a) educational and other tasks, (b) interpersonal interactions and personal relationships, (c) self-related psychological reactions and identity issues, and (d) ecological and contextual aspects of the sojourn. The study explored the relationship of various pre-existing factors and events specific to the Taiwanese graduate students' adjustment in each of the four major domains, the nature and extent of the Taiwanese sojourners' adaptive experience in each of the four major domains, and the significance of domain-specific adaptations to the overall success of the sojourn.
A list of individual, organizational, and cultural antecedent factors was identified as related to the Taiwanese sojourners' first-year adaptation in an American university. Task adaptation of the Taiwanese graduate students centered on adjustment to subject content, English language skills, critical-thinking abilities, American classroom communication norms and rules, experiential learning activities, and task-management skills. The Taiwanese students' interpersonal adaptation was greatly influenced by the frequency and depth of their engagement with Americans, other Taiwanese, sojourners from other cultures, and families and friends at home. Messages, role relationships, and form and context of social interaction required the most adaptation in their engagement with Americans. Much adjustment also was made in managing connections with the Taiwanese campus community and overseas relationships with boyfriends/girlfriends at home. A repertoire of interpretive psychological strategies employed by the Taiwanese sojourners to maintain or restore psychological equilibrium was identified. Changes in self-identities were principally experienced in group affiliation and personal status/quality rather than national and cultural membership. The Taiwanese graduate students' adjustment to ecological aspects of the sojourn primarily revolved around adaptation to the physical and educational environments. Limited exposure to the local American community and mass media resulted in minimal adjustment. Over time a steady increase in the Taiwanese sojourners' English listening comprehension and reading efficiency, ability to enact various business scripts, the level of intimacy in relationships with other Taiwanese, and knowledge of the local environment was reported. A gradual decrease was noted in feelings of loneliness and homesickness. Task and self-oriented adaptation consistently received the most attention from the Taiwanese students in their assessment of overall success in their sojourn. The students' adaptation in all four life domains in the U.S. was significantly affected, and in most cases greatly facilitated, by interaction with other Taiwanese co-nationals.
Finally, theoretical implications were discussed that should be addressed in future research on the adaptation of foreign students. Preventive and remedial measures were proposed concerning changes in the societal, institutional/organizational, and individual level that could facilitate the intercultural adaptation of Taiwanese students in American colleges and universities.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Chang, Shau-Ju
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712218
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712218

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