Honors College Thesis


Exploring International Student Involvement : A Qualitative Study Public Deposited

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  • The value of the student experience beyond just the academic classroom setting has been well established by a number of scholars in the higher education field. In more recent years the literature has intentionally expanded beyond the “typical” student demographics in order to examine the unique aspects, challenges, and needs of students to be successful at college. The purpose of this study is to explore the international student experience at Oregon State University (OSU), and to explore how they engage with Student Leadership & Involvement (SLI), with the goal of positively informing policy and practice for student affairs professionals. Using a qualitative approach and informed by a phenomenological research methodology, this study consisted of an online survey that asked international students 16 open ended questions that sought detailed descriptions of their extracurricular experiences. The survey asked students to reflect on their motivations to participate and conversely what makes them hesitate. They were also asked to reflect on whether they felt their international student identity has had an impact on their experience getting involved at OSU. Analyzed using the constant comparison (or horizonalization) method, four themes were developed, including: “A New Learning Curve;” “Integration Over Assimilation;” “A Not So Warm Welcome;” and “Communication Breakdown.” I was able to use the data to form a thorough description of the participants’ experiences and to analyze how the themes describe the study participants’ motivations. Although unable to confidently pose actionable recommendations to student affairs professionals with regards to policy and practice based on this data, this study reinforces my recommendation for continued, specified, and larger scale research focusing on OSU’s international student community, and on how SLI can more effectively serve our entire campus community.
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