Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Kenneth B. Matheny - Chair

Second Advisor

Frances McCarty

Third Advisor

Y. Barry Chung

Fourth Advisor

Jeff Ashby

Abstract

International students constitute an important cohort in the United States (U.S.) colleges and universities. In order for the U.S. colleges and universities to better accommodate the significant number of international students and to recruit them in the future, it is critical to identify factors that influence these students’ acculturation and adjustment processes and provide professionals with guidelines for creating culturally appropriate services and programs for them. Therefore the current study examined international students’ adaptation to the U.S. in relation to their acculturation levels, coping processes, and intent to stay in the U.S. after their graduation. Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression scale was used as a measure of psychological adaptation. In addition, Sociocultural Adaptation Scale, Acculturation Index, and Ways of Coping Questionnaire, were used to measure sociocultural adaptation, acculturation dimensions, and coping processes, respectively. A total of 204 F1 visa holding international students participated in the current study. This project was a cross-sectional, exploratory study that measured depression and sociocultural adaptation among international students. Cronbach’s alpha for each instrument was calculated to determine the internal reliability for the current sample. Pearson product moment correlational analyses were performed to examine the relations between interval variables. Analysis of variance was utilized to examine gender differences in coping processes. Multiple regression analyses were conducted in order to explore the predictors of international students’ psychological and sociocultural adaptations. Results showed that in females identification with the host culture was associated with lower levels of depression, and Escape-Avoidance was associated with higher levels of depression. Identification with the host culture and Escape-Avoidance were predictors of sociocultural adaptation for both genders. Specifically, students who identified more strongly with the American culture were less likely to experience difficulty functioning in the U.S. In addition, these students were more likely to report higher levels of English proficiency, higher likelihood of staying in the U.S. after graduation, and lower levels of depression. The study identified important gender differences with regards to acculturation dimensions and coping processes. Implications and suggestions for future research were discussed.

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