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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Acculturation and Its Implications for the Academic Achievement and Subjective Well-Being of East Asian International Students


The U.S. higher education system hosts a wide range of international students with the majority from East Asian countries. East Asian international students may have particular difficulty with acculturating into a novel environment given their predominant interdependent self-construal, which contrasts with the largely independent cultural imperative of the West. The present study investigates the potential associations between international students’ acculturation, self-construal (SC), and their academic and psychological adjustment (e.g., achievement goals, academic achievement, subjective well-being) to shed light on how East Asian international students can best adapt to a new culture. Participants included a total of 48 East Asian international students (25 male, 23 female; age range: 18 to 23). Results from a series of correlation analyses indicated that there were no significant correlations between acculturation strategy and self-construal. However, there was a significant correlation between performance-avoidance goals and GPA. Additionally, the separation strategy was negatively associated with negative affect and positively associated with life satisfaction, and the marginalization strategy was positively associated with negative affect and negatively associated with life satisfaction. The findings suggest that acculturation strategy is not directly linked to academic achievement; instead, it has a more prominent influence on well-being among East Asian international students. Further longitudinal research may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the association between acculturation and achievement goals in this unique student population.

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