Belonging International Students and Web Research Proposal

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This work reports a study in which 24 international students were interviewed in a research initiative that seeks to understand how international students adjust to the host culture and specifically how use of the Internet or Web assist them with this integration process. This work conducts an extensive review of literature in this area of study and examines the theoretical framework of what it means to 'belong' to a country or location. Research questions asked in this study are those of: (1) What role does Internet technology (Web 2.0) play in the international student's development and maintenance of a sense of belonging in a new home country? (2) What role does length of residence play in the international student's development and maintenance of a 'sense of belonging' in a new home country? And (3) Are there any differences in the adaptation of the international student to the new home country when the individual is a high volume or a low volume user of the Internet? This study states findings and recommendations for future research.




Page No.

Chapter One



Research Questions


Theoretical Framework

Chapter Two

Literature Review

Chapter Three



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Data Collection


Data Analysis


Chapter Four



Summary & Conclusion






Appendix 'A' -- Questionnaire





Page No.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Belonging International Students and Web 2.0 Assignment

Figure 1 -- Acculturation Model 30



Homes are always provisional (Edward Said, 1984:170)


Social bonding is a need that is timeless in nature and includes factors such as loyalty, security and acceptance. Because human beings are social creatures personal identity is defined by the social networks and communities to which the individual belongs. All humans have a deep need to belong and this is in terms of personally identifying with groups such as families, tribes as well as other social groupings. (Straker, 2008, p.38) Belonging is addressed in the work of Miller (2008) who states that "a minimum conception of belonging might be understood as standing in correct relations to one's community, one's history and one's locality." (p.218)

The majority of online interaction occurs within the context of existing groups that are formal and informal in nature while previous to the advent of the web these interactions took place face-to-face. Developing a sense of belonging is a process that is ongoing in nature and one that is inclusive of membership in, or alternatively, exclusion from, a wide variety of groupings during the course of the individual's life. The individual becomes involved through use of Internet technologies and applications including local online forums, blogs, web-sites and other technological tools in maintaining a sense of belonging and as well the individual's identity is founded upon the basis of interactions that are social in nature and that demonstrate the individual possessing membership in specific communities through beliefs, values and practices that are shared. (Marsh, et al., 2007)

It is even possible to utilize the Internet in maintaining membership or in acquiring membership in a new country and this has been assisted as well through globalization and the possibilities presented for education and accompanying cultural exposure that has never before been possible. Never before have such possibilities presented. The question that presents is how it is that international students manage to adapt to a new city and precisely what role do Internet technologies play in this adaptation? The international student who pursues their education abroad may likely experience some impact upon his or her self-esteem and simultaneously experience more exposure of their emotions due to online media use. (Birnie & Horvath, 2002, p. 45)

Adaptive functions of the Internet including information and emotional support offer an opportunity for International students to receive assurance in terms of their own sense of security and well-being as they learn about the host culture to which they are attempting to adapt. This process involves the international student becoming integrated into a new country and a different culture and in some cases what will be their new home.

This study addresses the importance of the individual belonging to a specific group and how this importance changes over time. As students join and leave different social networks and groups, they develop new connections and discard others in a continuous process of social interaction and integration. However, in this sense, the relative decline of 'traditional' forms of belonging and the emergence of new global social networks require multiple ideas of belonging (Marsh & Bradley, 2007). Hence as we can see the concept of home is a very complex notion. This work intends to examine the phenomenon of belonging to a new home and the role the Internet plays in this adaptation. As the international students attempts to integrate into their new environment it is very important that they build ties with friends and with other compatible individuals within the host culture. New sets of relationships can help facilitate newcomers' adaptation to the new cultural environment.

The work of Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed (1998) entitled: "Effects of a Peer Program on International Student Adjustment" reports a study in which "Newly admitted international graduate and undergraduate students, the majority of whom come from Asian countries, participated in an International Peer Program (IPP). Of these students, 28 IPP participants' campus resource use and Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ) (Baker & Siryk, 1989a) scores were compared to those of 32 international students who did not participate in the peer program. Results suggest that the IPP participants showed significantly higher social adjustment scores than the nonparticipants. Additionally, students from Asian countries had more difficulty adjusting to campus life than international students from non-Asian countries." (Abe, Talbot, and Geehoed, 1998, p.1)

Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed state that several studies reports findings that indicate that significant relationships "between social interaction and the adjustment of international students." (Furnham, 1988; Surdam & Collins, 1984; Yang, Teraoka, Eichenfield & Audas, 1994; and Zimmerman, 1995 as cited in Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed, as cited in, p.539) The adaptation of students was found in the work of Surdam and Collins (1984) was "highly correlated with international students' perceptions of their adjustment to American life." (cited in Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed, 1998, p. 539)

The greatest barrier to meaningful relationships with American was found to be the "lack of opportunity to interact socially." (Talbot, Geelhoed & Ninggal, in press, and Yang et al., 1994, as cited in Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed, 1998, p.539) Findings in the study reported by Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed include that students who previously had resided in the United States "scored significantly higher on the Social Adjustment and Instructional attachment subscales than those who had not." (Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed, 1998 p. 541) In fact these higher scores appear to indicate that the U.S. had 'previously scored higher on the Social Adjustment and Institutional Attachment subscales who those who did not." (p. 542) Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed state that findings in the study are "...consistent with Church (1982) who made identification that the adjustment needs among international students are diverse in nature." (Abe, Talbot, and Geelhoed, 1998, p. 541)

The work of Hartshorne and Baucom entitled: "Issues Affecting Cross-Cultural Adaptation of International Graduate Students" reports a study that sought to make identification and conduct analysis of the problems of adjustment that international students enrolled in American Universities." (nd, p.1) Hartshorne and Baucom report that various studies have primarily focused on the existing 'cultural barriers' with international students and specifically the work of Yieh (1932) states findings that culture shock "can lead to homesickness and loneliness and negatively affect issues related to health, bonding, establishing academic and non-academic social contacts, marriage issues, and academic problems." (cited in Hartshorne and Baucom, 2007, p. 3)

Additionally Harshorne and Baucom state that it was noted by Fatima (2001) that "...cultural discrimination and Americans' lack of knowledge of other cultures provides significant barriers to the international graduate school experience." (2007, p.3) Stated to be a primary factor found in many studies to be a contributor to the presenting barriers of international graduate students were those of "social support and interaction." Harshone and Baucom, 2006, p.4)

Additionally stated as a factor that create challenges in the life of the international student was the issue of mental health as well as the factor of financial issues which are both stated to "present an obstacle" for the international student. (2007, p.4) Further contributing to the challenges experienced by the international student are issues such as housing and transportation. Harshone and Baucom state "Examining all of these factors, it is clear that a wide array of issues can either facilitate or hinder the graduate experience of international students." (2007, p.4)


During the process of integration into a new country, community, and home, students develop a sense of belonging. One possible method of experience an easy adaptation to the new environment of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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