Antecedents and outcomes of international student adjustment

Pamela Mary Hedges

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This study considered the adjustment of international students to their life in a new country and their work in the business faculty of a large Australian university. Prior research into expatriate adjustment was used as the study’s basis and a model for analysis was developed from that research literature. Although some aspects of the relationships found with expatriate employees were not demonstrated, generally the similarities were strong and the features of an expatriate employee’s experience and that of an international student were seen to be very alike. Over 500 international students completed a survey based on well-validated measures from the research literature. The results were analysed using structural equation modelling. The hypothesised model did not fit very well in its original form and alternative models were suggested and tested in order to identify a better-fitting model. Cultural novelty, personal abilities in interpersonal interactions and communication skills, self-esteem, self-efficacy and general adjustment were found to be the most significant variables in explaining the outcomes of academic achievement, workrelated and general wellbeing and work-related and general satisfaction, with selfesteem, self-efficacy and general adjustment having the greatest influence on successful outcomes. Adjustment was found not to be a mediating construct, as suggested in the expatriate literature, but an antecedent influence upon the outcomes. Relationships between the constructs were complex, as had been suggested by previous research, making generalisations about causes and consequences of adjustment very difficult. This complexity emphasised that, for international students, the experience of living and working in an international location needs to be regarded in a holistic fashion and that there are many and varied contributors to its success. Several potentially fruitful avenues for future research, concerning both international students and expatriate employees, were identified and discussed. The implications of the present study were considered, both from an academic perspective and in terms of usefulness within a university. A number of possible practical strategies were suggested, relevant to students, lecturers and university administrators that might assist in improving the experience of ‘expatriation’ for international students.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2003

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