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Expanding the Known World: Routines that Influence International Student Integration

  • Author(s): Yost, Chryss
  • Advisor(s): Conley, Sharon
  • et al.

This dissertation presents three related studies examining institutional routines and their impact on international students at a large public university. The studies consider factors which can influence international students’ ability to overcome acculturative stress and integrate with a sense of belonging and safety.

The case study in Chapter Two focuses on an international student services office within the large public university. The ways in which organizational routines have changed are interpreted here in response to a surging international student population and changing Federal policies regarding immigration. Feldman’s generative model of organizational routines encourages the examination of routines as areas of growth. The chapter examines routinized actions used by the international office (OISS), specifically focusing on Feldman’s performative model. In addition to routinized action theory, this chapter proposes applying anxiety/uncertainty management theory (AUM) to the evaluation of organizational routines. Examination of routines is placed in the context of a conceptual overview based on literature about routines as sources of stability and change. Reducing uncertainty, expanding networks, and communicating expectations may lay the groundwork for an integrated student body, reduced acculturative stress for international students, and increased social capital.

Chapter Three explores the question: How do international students in the U.S. use social network sites (SNS)? Connections made through home-country SNS lessen student stress by maintaining establish social supports. At the same time, anxiety/uncertainty management theory (AUM) suggests reliance on familiar home-country SNS reduces motivation to integrate in the host country. This conceptual overview draws upon several recent studies to consider the ways college students use social media, how international students adapt to host-country networks (or not), and the potential for SNSs to be an effective communication channel for the host institution, with special consideration for its potential and limitations for emergency communications. A proposal to develop a SNS-based structured arrival program is included.

Chapter Four addresses institutional communications and international student response at the large public university during a natural disaster. Literature on disaster preparedness and emergency communications on college campuses rarely considers the needs of the international student population. How can the campus better support international students during a large-scale emergency? A post-incident survey examines student perceptions of the event and the institutional response to the disaster.

The final chapter considers issues raised by within these studies, limitations, and possibilities for future research. Because these chapters examine routines and processes initiated in part to comply with Federal immigration policy, using rapidly changing technologies that are also subject to constraint by governmental policies, the future offers ample opportunities for further exploration.

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