International Student Social Support and Belonging

The longitudinal project is designed to explore associations between demographic factors, specific sources of social support for international students, and belonging and well-being outcomes. The project extends current literature on the importance of social support for student adjustment by testing for different types of social support (e.g., faculty, international student, domestic student, number of friends).

  • Findings

    We collected longitudinal data in the form of surveys across two timepoints, fall 2017 and spring 2018, from international students attending universities in the United States.

    Findings include:

    • Faculty social support in the fall predicts lower loneliness in the spring
    • Faculty social support indirectly predicts higher psychological well-being in the spring via loneliness
    • Domestic student social support in the fall predicts higher belonging in the spring
    • International graduate students have fewer friends but higher sense of belonging compared to international undergraduate students
    • Graduating high school in the U.S. is not associated with international student social outcomes; conversely, it correlates negatively with social support from other international students.
    • Perceived English language competence and domestic student social support make roughly equal contributions to international student well-being

    Two manuscripts have been accepted for publication, three are under review or revision, and one manuscript is in preparation.

International Student Transition Course

The ISTC project was designed to determine the efficacy of a one-credit semester course to help first-year undergraduate international students gain knowledge, confidence, and usefulness in certain intercultural skills.

  • Findings

    We gathered pre-post data from students in four ISTC courses in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 as well as data from a comparison group of international students in 2016.

    Findings included:

    • Students in the ISTC course gained in perspective shifting, suspending judgment, self-advocacy, and interacting in class with students of other cultures across the semester
    • Course participants reported significantly higher campus belonging and social support than a comparison group of undergraduate international students at the same university.

    One manuscript has been published in Journal of International Students