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Engagement for all? A study of international undergraduates at the University of British Columbia Suderman, Michelle Ellen Szabo 2015

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    ENGAGEMENT FOR ALL? A STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATES  AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA   by   Michelle Ellen Szabo Suderman  B.A., University of Victoria, 1988 M.Ed., University of Alberta, 1996    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF EDUCATION   in  The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Educational Leadership & Policy)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)    April 2015 © Michelle Ellen Szabo Suderman, 2015  ii Abstract American student engagement literature has identified a set of student behaviours and institutional practices shown to lead to student satisfaction, academic success, and retention to graduation among post-secondary students. However, the relevance of these behaviours and the standardized instrument used to measure them may have limited applicability for non-U.S. students. Building on existing quantitative analysis, through focus groups, this study considered how international and Canadian undergraduate students perceived the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and select behaviours identified in the student engagement literature. This study found that international students misinterpreted key terms such as faculty members and had subtle but important differences in their perceptions of student behaviours and institutional practices compared to the perceptions of Canadian students.  iii Preface This thesis and the study it describes are original works attributable to the author. Undergraduate research assistants assisted with subject recruitment and logistical arrangements for focus groups, advised on the focus group script, conducted select focus groups, transcribed their own focus groups, and translated the transcripts into English. Certified translators verified the translations. A professional editor provided stylistic and copy editing services.   The results of this study have not appeared in publication.  Approval for this study was given by the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (Certificate number H08-02372). iv Table of Contents Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... ii Preface............................................................................................................................................ iii Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................... iv List of Tables .................................................................................................................................. x List of Figures ................................................................................................................................ xi Acknowledgements ....................................................................................................................... xii Dedication .................................................................................................................................... xiii Chapter 1. Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 Context of the Study ...................................................................................................... 3 1.2 Student Engagement Theory and the National Survey of Student Engagement .......... 10 1.3 NSSE, International Students, and the Institutional Context ....................................... 13 1.4 The Role of Culture ...................................................................................................... 17 1.5 Research Questions ...................................................................................................... 19 1.6 Organization of the Thesis ........................................................................................... 21 Chapter 2. Literature Review ........................................................................................................ 22 2.1 Internationalization of Post-Secondary Education ....................................................... 22 2.2 International Students in the Context of Internationalization ...................................... 30 2.3 International Students as a Research Focus ................................................................. 35 2.3.1 Chinese international students as a research focus. ......................................... 44 2.3.2 Chinese cultural patterns. ................................................................................. 47 2.3.3 Research about international students and student engagement. ..................... 48 2.4 Student Engagement..................................................................................................... 55 2.4.1 A critique of NSSE and student engagement theory. ....................................... 63 2.4.2 Student engagement and the aims of education. .............................................. 70 2.4.2.1 Socialization. ....................................................................................... 71 2.4.2.2 Plato’s academic ideal......................................................................... 72 2.4.2.3 Development according to Rousseau. ................................................. 73 2.4.2.4 Learner reflexivity in modern times. .................................................. 75 2.5 Hofstede on Cultural Difference .................................................................................. 75 2.6 Summary of the Literature Review .............................................................................. 77 v Chapter 3. Methodology ............................................................................................................... 81 3.1 Design Considerations ................................................................................................. 81 3.1.1 A qualitative approach. .................................................................................... 81 3.1.2 Focus groups. ................................................................................................... 83 3.1.3 Interviews. ........................................................................................................ 85 3.1.4 Role of culture and language............................................................................ 86 3.1.5 Delimiting the target population. ..................................................................... 89 3.2 Procedures .................................................................................................................... 91 3.2.1 Analyzing NSSE data. ...................................................................................... 92 3.2.2 Engaging research assistants. ........................................................................... 93 3.2.3 Holding pilot focus groups. .............................................................................. 93 3.2.4 Selecting the sample. ........................................................................................ 93 3.2.5 Recruitment and incentives. ............................................................................. 97 3.2.6 Response. ....................................................................................................... 101 3.2.7 Conducting focus groups. .............................................................................. 102 3.2.8 Transcription and translation. ........................................................................ 105 3.2.9 Coding the data. ............................................................................................. 107 3.2.10 Types of responses: Framing versus factors. ................................................. 108 3.3 Positionality of the Researcher .................................................................................. 112 3.4 Reliability ................................................................................................................... 114 3.5 Validity ....................................................................................................................... 117 3.6 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 121 Chapter 4. Examining NSSE as a Survey ................................................................................... 124 4.1 What Was Learned From UBC 2008 NSSE Results ................................................. 124 4.2 What Students Told Us About NSSE ........................................................................ 128 4.2.1 Impressions: International participants. ......................................................... 128 4.2.2 Impressions: Canadian participants. .............................................................. 129 4.2.3 Response options: International participants. ................................................ 130 4.2.3.1 Responses were context-dependent. ................................................. 131 4.2.3.2 Missing option. ................................................................................. 131 4.2.4 Response options: Canadian participants. ...................................................... 132 4.2.4.1 Missing option. ................................................................................. 132 4.2.4.2 Responses were context-dependent. ................................................. 132 4.2.5 Meaning of items: International participants. ................................................ 133 4.2.6 Meaning of items: Canadian participants. ...................................................... 137 4.3 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 140 Chapter 5. Findings Related to Participating in Class ................................................................ 142 5.1 Framing of Class Participation by International Students.......................................... 145 5.1.1 Emotions. ....................................................................................................... 146 5.1.2 Learning. ........................................................................................................ 147 5.1.3 Other sources. ................................................................................................. 148 vi 5.2 Factors Affecting Class Participation for International Students ............................... 149 5.2.1 Social environment......................................................................................... 151 5.2.2 Class size. ....................................................................................................... 153 5.2.3 Role of the professor. ..................................................................................... 154 5.2.4 Culture. ........................................................................................................... 156 5.2.5 Year level. ...................................................................................................... 158 5.2.6 Major. ............................................................................................................. 160 5.2.7 Language. ....................................................................................................... 161 5.2.8 Summary of findings related to class participation for international  students. .......................................................................................................... 163 5.3 Framing of Class Participation by Canadian Students ............................................... 164 5.3.1 Learning. ........................................................................................................ 165 5.3.2 Other sources. ................................................................................................. 167 5.3.3 Emotions. ....................................................................................................... 168 5.4 Factors Affecting Class Participation for Canadian Students .................................... 169 5.4.1 Major. ............................................................................................................. 169 5.4.2 Class size. ....................................................................................................... 171 5.4.3 Social environment......................................................................................... 173 5.4.4 Role of the professor. ..................................................................................... 174 5.4.5 Missing factors. .............................................................................................. 176 5.5 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 176 Chapter 6. Findings on Additional NSSE Behaviours ................................................................ 180 6.1 Student-Faculty Interaction ........................................................................................ 181 6.1.1 Framing of relationships with faculty members by international  students. .. 185 6.1.2 Factors enabling or constraining relationships with faculty members as perceived by international students. ............................................................... 188 6.1.3 Framing of relationships with faculty members by Canadian students. ........ 192 6.1.4 Factors enabling or constraining relationships with faculty members as perceived by Canadian students. .................................................................... 193 6.2 Relationships With Staff ............................................................................................ 196 6.2.1 Introduction to supportive campus environment............................................ 196 6.2.2 Introduction to relationships with staff. ......................................................... 197 6.2.3 Relationships with staff for international and Canadian students. ................. 198 6.2.3.1 No more “campus marathon.” ........................................................... 199 6.2.3.2 Options, please. ................................................................................. 203 6.2.3.3 International students’ experiences are distinct. ............................... 205 6.3 Serious Conversations With People Very Different From Yourself .......................... 207 6.3.1 Framing of serious conversations by international students. ......................... 209 6.3.2 Factors affecting serious conversations for international students. ............... 210 6.3.3 Framing of serious conversations by Canadian students. .............................. 212 6.3.4 Factors affecting serious conversations for Canadian students...................... 213 6.4 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 214 6.4.1 Student-faculty interaction. ............................................................................ 214 6.4.2 Relationships with staff. ................................................................................. 215 vii 6.4.3 Having serious conversations with people very different from yourself. ...... 216 6.4.4 Concluding comments. ................................................................................... 217 Chapter 7. Comparison of Findings by Demographic Variables ................................................ 218 7.1 Method and Considerations ....................................................................................... 222 7.2 Findings by Year Level .............................................................................................. 224 7.2.1 What I expected to find. ................................................................................. 225 7.2.2 First-year students. ......................................................................................... 226 7.2.3 Fourth-year students. ...................................................................................... 230 7.3 Findings by Gender .................................................................................................... 231 7.3.1 What I expected to find. ................................................................................. 231 7.3.2 Women. .......................................................................................................... 232 7.3.3 Men. ............................................................................................................... 234 7.4 Findings by Residence Status .................................................................................... 234 7.4.1 What I expected to find. ................................................................................. 234 7.4.2 Residents. ....................................................................................................... 236 7.4.3 Commuters. .................................................................................................... 240 7.5 Findings by Faculty, Major, or Discipline ................................................................. 241 7.5.1 What I expected to find. ................................................................................. 241 7.5.2 Grades and competition in Science. ............................................................... 244 7.5.3 Good practices in Science. ............................................................................. 246 7.5.4 Perspectives about each faculty. .................................................................... 247 7.5.4.1 Applied Science (Engineering). ........................................................ 247 7.5.4.2 Arts. ................................................................................................... 248 7.5.4.3 Commerce. ........................................................................................ 249 7.5.4.4 Science. ............................................................................................. 250 7.5.5 Learning as viewed in each faculty. ............................................................... 250 7.6 Why Comparison by Nationality Faltered ................................................................. 253 7.7 What We Learned About the Population Under Study Aside From Their  Comments .................................................................................................................. 256 7.8 Making Sense of Student Populations........................................................................ 257 7.8.1 Findings by year level. ................................................................................... 258 7.8.2 Findings by gender. ........................................................................................ 260 7.8.3 Findings by residence status. ......................................................................... 261 7.8.4 Findings by faculty, major, or discipline. ...................................................... 262 7.9 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 264 Chapter 8. Discussion: Making Sense of NSSE and NSSE Behaviours..................................... 268 8.1 NSSE as a Survey: Statistics Do Not Tell the Whole Story ...................................... 268 8.1.1 Student-faculty interaction and out-of-class interaction with faculty. ........... 268 8.1.2 Diversity / serious conversations. .................................................................. 269 8.1.3 Impressions of NSSE as a survey. ................................................................. 271 8.1.4 Meanings misconstrued. ................................................................................. 271 8.1.5 Response options. ........................................................................................... 271 viii 8.1.6 Statistics do not tell the whole story. ............................................................. 272 8.2 Asking Questions or Contributing to Class Discussions ........................................... 273 8.2.1 Framing of class participation by international students................................ 273 8.2.1.1 Emotions. .......................................................................................... 273 8.2.1.2 Learning. ........................................................................................... 276 8.2.1.3 Other sources. ................................................................................... 276 8.2.2 Factors affecting class participation for international students. ..................... 278 8.2.2.1 Social environment. .......................................................................... 278 8.2.2.2 Class size. .......................................................................................... 280 8.2.2.3 Role of the professor. ........................................................................ 280 8.2.2.4 Culture............................................................................................... 281 8.2.2.5 Year level. ......................................................................................... 283 8.2.2.6 Major. ................................................................................................ 284 8.2.2.7 Language. .......................................................................................... 285 8.2.3 Framing of class participation by Canadian students ..................................... 286 8.2.3.1 Learning. ........................................................................................... 286 8.2.3.2 Sources. ............................................................................................. 287 8.2.3.3 Emotions. .......................................................................................... 288 8.2.4 Factors affecting class participation for Canadian students ........................... 288 8.2.4.1 Major. ................................................................................................ 288 8.2.4.2 Class size. .......................................................................................... 289 8.2.4.3 Social environment. .......................................................................... 290 8.2.4.4 Role of the professor. ........................................................................ 291 8.2.4.5 Missing factors. ................................................................................. 291 8.2.5 Summary of the discussion of class participation. ......................................... 292 8.3 Student-Faculty Interaction ........................................................................................ 293 8.4 Relationships with Staff ............................................................................................. 297 8.5 Serious Conversations With People Very Different From Yourself .......................... 300 8.6 Summary of the Chapter ............................................................................................ 303 Chapter 9. Summary, Conclusions, and Implications ................................................................. 306 9.1 Summary of the Study ................................................................................................ 306 9.1.1 Statement of the problem. .............................................................................. 306 9.1.2 Research questions. ........................................................................................ 306 9.1.3 Conceptual frameworks. ................................................................................ 307 9.1.4 Study participants and data collection............................................................ 309 9.1.5 Data analysis. ................................................................................................. 309 9.1.6 Limitations. .................................................................................................... 310 9.2 Key Findings .............................................................................................................. 311 9.2.1 NSSE as a survey. .......................................................................................... 311 9.2.2 The power of the professor. ........................................................................... 316 9.2.3 The tyranny of the large class. ....................................................................... 322 9.2.4 The problem of anxiety. ................................................................................. 324 9.2.5 The role of active and collaborative learning. ................................................ 326 9.2.6 The cost of the campus marathon. ................................................................. 335 ix 9.2.7 Behaviours don’t tell the whole story. ........................................................... 339 9.2.8 The race-based lens. ....................................................................................... 344 9.3 Implications for Policy and Practice at UBC ............................................................. 347 9.4 Implications for Policy and Practice Beyond UBC ................................................... 355 9.4.1 Limitations of NSSE as an instrument. .......................................................... 355 9.4.2 The potential for faculty members to engage international students: Approachability and effective teaching. ........................................................ 356 9.4.3 Leverage academic practices and cultural schema. ........................................ 356 9.5 Implications for Future Research ............................................................................... 357 9.6 Closing Comments ..................................................................................................... 359 References ................................................................................................................................... 362 Appendices .................................................................................................................................. 384 Appendix A:  Forms Used .................................................................................................. 384 Appendix B:  Report to Sponsor ........................................................................................ 401 Appendix C:  Sample NSSE 2008 US English (Paper Version) ........................................ 437  x List of Tables Table 3.1 Undergraduates at UBC Vancouver from target countries / regions for 2007/08 ........ 89 Table 3.2 Research phases of this study ....................................................................................... 94 Table 3.3 Number and percentage of participants by focus group, citizenship, year, and initial response rate ............................................................................................................... 101 Table 3.4 Number of participants by citizenship, year, and percentage of invited population .. 103 Table 4.1 NSSE 2008 items included in Student-Faculty Interaction benchmark ..................... 125 Table 4.2 NSSE 2008 items included in selected scales ............................................................. 126 Table 7.1 Demographic variables of subjects: Possible values .................................................. 218 Table 7.2 Participants by gender, faculty, and residence status.................................................. 257  xi List of Figures Figure 3.1 Hofstede’s five dimensions for selected countries ...................................................... 88  xii Acknowledgements My thanks go to supervisor Amy Metcalfe, committee member and original co-supervisor Donald Fisher, and committee member Dan Pratt, whose support was unflagging and without whose practical wisdom and gracious encouragement this study would not have happened.  This research was funded in part by the Faculty of Education and the Office of the Vice President, Students at the University of British Columbia.  I want to acknowledge the support of the 2006 Ed.D. cohort, Bobby Nijjar, “Eddies” past and present, and the faculty and staff in Educational Studies, whose critical engagement with their practice has inspired me.  I am blessed to work with a group of students, staff, and faculty who are passionately committed to meaningful community, rich learning everywhere and at all times, and a supportive campus environment for all students. My special thanks to Janet Teasdale and the staff in International Student Development for their unfailing support through the project.  This study would not have been possible without dedicated research assistants Lucia Chung, Hikaru Hirabayashi, Alice Huang, Kerry Ko, and Jiefang Ong, and the focus group participants whose ideas are the real story of this study.  I am indebted to writing coach Daphne Gray-Grant for tirelessly coaxing my ideas onto the page. While still in draft form, the thesis benefited from stylistic and copy-editing by Naomi Pauls.  To my husband, Brian Suderman, and to the family and friends who have stood by us on this journey, thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to getting reacquainted.  xiii Dedication  To the memory of Michael Szabo and Karen Hansen Szabo William Emmanuel Hansen and Ruth Sanford Hansen  And to Brian John Suderman and Carl Edward Johan Suderman  1 Chapter 1.   Introduction  It is onerous to think about our ideas because they are the things we think with. —Kieran Egan, 2001, p. 923   “Talk to my professor? Oh, he is a very busy man.” The student looks up at me through thick bangs, eyes pleading with me to tell him I was only kidding—surely there must be some way to improve his grades without talking to the professor. In the student’s home country, professors are revered and rarely talk with students outside of class. Where he is from, for a student to admit he does not understand what a professor has taught would be a loss of face for both of them. Yet interaction with faculty members outside of class is one of the prime behaviours identified in the North American student engagement literature that “contribute to high levels of learning and personal development” (Zhao, Kuh, & Carini, 2005). If the behaviours identified in the student engagement literature are virtually unknown in another cultural context, would students from that culture reap the same benefits from participating in these behaviours as U.S. students apparently do? Does student engagement theory apply to international students, or does it describe a primarily North American phenomenon? These are two of the questions that drove my curiosity to pursue this study. This study was born out of my efforts to support the unique needs of international students in my care and at the same time support an institutional initiative that may or may not be relevant for international students. As head of international student advising at the large, research-intensive University of British Columbia, I am tasked with enhancing the retention and 2 learning of international students, who made up 12% of the undergraduate student population at the time of the study. This study records the experiences of undergraduates from East Asia who are trying to succeed at a Canadian university that is still evolving in its ability to support their success. Three broad trends form a backdrop to this study. The first trend is the intense pressure in higher education to respond to globalization and the role international students play in those internationalization efforts. The second trend is the increasing dependence of Canadian post-secondary institutions on non-governmental sources of income, including tuition from international undergraduates. The third trend is the synthesis of 50 years of U.S.–based research into student success to form the theory of student engagement and the ascendance of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, pronounced “nessie”). The convergence of these trends triggered my concern about the wholesale application of student engagement theory outside of a U.S. context and specifically to the international students with whom I work. Consequently, I held 18 home-language focus groups for first- and fourth-year students from the University of British Columbia Vancouver. This study reports and analyzes the responses of the 55 international undergraduates from five East Asian countries and regions and 12 Canadian undergraduates who participated in the focus groups as they described their responses to NSSE and their engagement with the Canadian university they attend. This study uses the classic definition of international students as those who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of their country of study and whose primary purpose in that country is to study (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, 2014). In contrast, the term foreign student overemphasizes strangeness while visa student is not entirely accurate in Canada. I excluded immigrants, as the concerns of permanent settlers could be expected to differ 3 significantly from those of people whose stated intent is to return home at the completion of their studies. 1.1 Context of the Study I first heard about the theory of student engagement in 2003 when my institution was the first Canadian university to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). I was a staff member in the newly formed Student Development department, which was named after the predominant theories in student affairs at the time. In 2003, the Student Development staff was told that NSSE would be the driving force in our work for the foreseeable future. Accordingly we did our homework and learned that, after 50 years of various U.S.–based researchers trying to answer the question “What variables best predict and explain success among college students?” they had arrived at a grand unified theory and psychometric framework that they called student engagement. According to this theory, engaging in certain behaviours on the part of students leads in the aggregate to outcomes such as higher grade point average (GPA), greater satisfaction with their university experience, and increased retention to graduation.  My first response was tremendous enthusiasm. Here was the Holy Grail of post-secondary student work, the secret to success, the way struggling or disadvantaged or off-track students could overcome their challenges, and the way that regardless of who they were or what institution they attended, students could get higher grades, be more likely to stay in school, and be satisfied with their postsecondary educational experience. The theory of student engagement made a powerful set of claims. As Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) concluded,“[I]f, as it appears, individual effort or engagement is the critical determinant in the impact of college, then it is important to focus on the ways in which an  institution can shape its academic, interpersonal, and 4 extracurricular offerings to encourage student engagement” (p. 602). Added to this was the premise that institutions whose students more often engage in the predictive behaviours could claim to be institutions of higher quality. In the battle for worldwide institutional rankings, this was heady stuff indeed. I was gratified to encounter a way of evaluating institutions that had more to do with the quality of student experiences than with numbers of published research articles. Yet as I considered student engagement theory, NSSE, and the specific predictive behaviours, a suspicion began to grow. The predictive behaviours and the concept of engaged student success sounded a lot like my perception of American college life. As a child growing up in a U.S. college town and as the child of an American college professor, I understood that the point of going to college was to get involved on campus, to live on campus, to date on campus, to jump into college life in and out of the classroom with gusto. How was NSSE different? Based on my experience in Canada, where this culture of “college” life seems rare; and on my studies in Germany, where there was little evidence of extra-curricular or residence-based student programming; and on my expertise in foreign higher-education systems based on four years on tour internationally and seven years as a study-abroad administrator, I could not see the NSSE behaviours taking root in any of the places I had been—aside from the United States—any time soon.  Eager to share my new knowledge of student engagement but also interested to test my skepticism about its universal applicability, I attended the International Symposium. This two-day pre-conference event is held each year for non-U.S. attendees to the annual conference of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). These are not internationalists but college student personnel administrators who work in a context that happens 5 to be outside of the United States. As I discussed my new knowledge with colleagues from Germany, Lebanon, and Japan, they looked at me blankly. They had never heard of student engagement theory or NSSE. I described some of the predictive behaviours: talking with faculty members outside of class, participating in class discussion, engaging in community service learning. Their students did not do these things. Their students had not done those things in their secondary schooling. Moreover, their institutions were not set up for their students to do these things. And my colleagues at the symposium could not fathom why a student would want to do these things. In other words, here were higher-education systems with centuries or more of history that did not engage their students in the predictive behaviours, yet apparently their students were able to be successful. How could this be? I began to suspect that student engagement theory was a brilliant U.S. guide for U.S. students on how to be successful while attending schools in the United States. Its applicability beyond that context seemed uncertain. This alarmed me because the success of my students was important to me and to my institution, yet the approach that was expected to help them succeed might be woefully short-sighted. The University of British Columbia is significantly invested in the success of its students, but to me it seemed pointless to ask them to engage in behaviours that they were ill-equipped to exhibit and that would divert university resources from approaches, yet to be determined, that were more likely to help them succeed. Moreover, I suspected that the wholesale application of student engagement theory to international students might spring from unintentional cultural arrogance: the assumption that what is true in one context must necessarily be true in another.  The final impetus for this study came a few years later, toward the end of a NASPA conference session in which several institutional approaches to using NSSE results were 6 presented. I asked the NSSE researcher who was presenting: had the researchers considered the potential cultural underpinnings of the instrument, and did they have any understanding of how it applied to the experience of international students, given that entire higher-education systems elsewhere manage just fine without many of the behaviours advocated in the NSSE research? The response was unambiguous: this is an American instrument, valid for an American audience, and may or may not have the same relevance for international students or even for the Canadian institutions who now participate in the study. The researcher encouraged audience members to pursue the matter through campus-specific studies, focus groups, and interviews, and to please share their findings. This recommendation strengthened my resolve to investigate student perceptions of NSSE on my own campus. Edward Said’s (1983) concept of traveling theory provides insight into this situation. Traveling theory is the phenomenon of theory being adopted across time or place, often without consideration for the particularity of the context out of which it arose or its suitability for the new context. Said urged his readers to pay attention when theory travels, because it is an opportunity for critical reflection. Much can be learned about the originating context, the new context, and the theory itself by critically reflecting on how theory travels and the assistance and resistance that arise as theory enters a new context.  When we look at student engagement theory, we see that it originated in a U.S. higher-education context and was being introduced at virtually the same time to Canadian post-secondary contexts. More importantly for me, the new theory was also being applied to international students in the Canadian context. Considering Said’s theory, would student engagement theory apply equally in the new context of Canadian postsecondary education as it had in the U.S.? What assumptions or limitations of the theory would its introduction uncover? 7 What in the new context would assist or resist the introduction of the theory? What could we learn about the contexts from which it was coming and to which it was going?  As I reflected on why student engagement theory struck me as unsuitable for international students in a Canadian context, Pierre Bourdieu’s work around fields (1986) captured my interest. Below is an excerpt from the guide I wrote as part of the comprehensive examination for my doctorate (Suderman, 2008): Pierre Bourdieu depicted fields of struggle, wherein people, united by their acceptance of the rules of play, compete for dominant positions based on certain favoured dispositions called capital (Bourdieu, 1977; Bourdieu, 1986). According to Bourdieu, each player's actions arise out of their habitus, which is the embodiment of their early socialization, and which has a history and capital (i.e., is more or less socially desirable), so that they live out and perpetuate the social structures of which they are products (Nash, 1999; Bourdieu, 1993). Following Bourdieu, I define habitus as the embodied social norms that make up a person’s world view.   If we substitute Bourdieu’s fields for Said’s context, we have a new way of looking into what assists and resists new theory. The “rules of play” I described in my comprehensive exam, the dominant habitus among the players, and the capital that makes each player more or less advantaged in that field of struggle give us tools to think about the U.S higher-education context and international students in Canada. They also help us explore what are unconscious and unquestioned habits of thought, what constitutes cultural capital in those contexts, and who has strategic advantage in the field. Specifically, again from my comprehensive exam guide, drawing 8 on Ridley’s article entitled “Puzzling Experiences in Higher Education” (2004) and furthering the notion of cultural capital as it relates to international students:  Culture is a central construct in my practice. According to Jenkins, "the concept of the habitus … functions as an analogue for culture when it comes to explaining behaviour" (2002, p.92). […]  Culture acts as an inexorable undercurrent pushing us in ways of which we are largely unaware, not limited to national cultures as in the work of Hofstede (2001), but encompassing the complexity of individual and regional distinctions, the vagaries of power, and intersecting and multi-layered identities. (Suderman, 2008)  Academic discourse can be “confusing and mysterious” to newcomers from a different cultural context (Ridley, 2004, p. 91). Ridley further states that “the confusion can be particularly great for students coming from cultural and language backgrounds that are different to those underpinning the dominant ideologies of higher education institutions” (p. 91). International students may possess significant cultural capital in their home context but when transplanted are structurally disadvantaged, not because of an innate deficiency but because of the mismatch between what counts as capital in this new context and what counts in their home context. This structural mismatch is too seldom understood or acknowledged because we tend to believe our innate perceptions to be inviolate truth. (Suderman, 2008) This was the most central of my convictions: that the rules of the game for succeeding in the academic “field” at my institution involved a complex set of assumptions that were not 9 immediately evident to international students (or to university administrators), and that it was unfair to expect students to be successful in a new context without access to those implicit assumptions. Further, I also believed that the success of international students mattered not only to the students themselves, but also to their fellow domestic students, who expected to receive an education that prepared them to be global citizens in part by interacting with a diverse student population, and to the university itself, which was heavily invested in the success of international undergraduates, both financially and through reputation. How could international students succeed if the ways they could be successful were hidden from them? Student engagement seemed to offer a kind of rule book, but one that might or might not be accurate for this field, and it did not explain how the rules could be applied.  The second conviction that led me to this study was the concern that student engagement theory itself contained a complex set of assumptions about the meaning of the behaviours it identified as desirable. As a behavioural theory, student engagement does not try to explain why engaging in certain behaviours achieves the results it does; the data simply identify that students who engage more in these behaviours have higher grades, satisfaction, and retention rates in the aggregate than their peers who do not. But what if the meaning of the behaviours was dramatically different for some students than for others? What if one of the behaviours was driving a car (perhaps as a relaxing or confidence-building activity)? Would that same behaviour accomplish the desired outcome if the student did not have a driver’s licence and in fact came from a country where obtaining a driver’s licence was an expensive and time-consuming ordeal, such that few people drove? The underlying assumptions of the behaviour—that most young people will have a driver’s licence, that driving is common, that access to cars is common, that obtaining a driver’s licence is a kind of rite of passage for young adults—would not translate to 10 the new situation, and the outcomes of the behaviour would be called into question. NSSE behaviours are similar. If the underlying assumptions of the behaviours, which arguably arose out of a U.S. context, do not translate fully to the new context, the outcomes cannot be expected to be the same.  One possible approach to studying the travelling of this theory – that is, student engagement as applied to international students in Canada – would have been to challenge quantitatively the NSSE claims for international students: that international students who engage in the desired behaviours in the aggregate have higher grades, are more satisfied, and are more likely to remain at the institution. However, NSSE researchers Zhao, Kuh, and Carini (2005) had already taken that route by examining all international student responses to NSSE over the first several years of the survey, and they concluded that an exploration of student perceptions was needed to accurately interpret the findings. Their research provided the rationale to study the way international students thought about NSSE as a survey and the behaviours it measured. If I was right, then international students’ ways of seeing the world—perhaps related to their own national culture, perhaps more nuanced—would be filters through which they would see the survey and behaviours. At the very least such a study would help reveal their perceptions of NSSE and associated behaviours so that at my own institution we could support them in engaging in the behaviours. I hoped that findings from the study would inform the development of solutions at my university to help international students succeed.  1.2 Student Engagement Theory and the National Survey of Student Engagement At this juncture I will properly introduce the theory of student engagement and why this far-reaching theory cannot be ignored. Student engagement theory comes out of extensive U.S-based research which indicates that engaging in certain behaviours on the part of undergraduates and 11 their institutions can positively impact academic achievement, personal development, and persistence to graduation. The long list of behaviours includes participating in co-curricular activities, contributing to class discussions, examining one’s views on a topic, having serious conversations with someone of a different race or ethnicity, and making a class presentation (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2008). An extensive literature review appears in Chapter 2.  Student engagement has been defined as the extent of students’ involvement and active participation in learning activities (Cole & Chan, 1994). Counter to common wisdom, student engagement theory suggests that certain outside-of-class activities, such as working on campus, are not necessarily distractions but instead are positively associated with academic achievement, satisfaction, and retention (Kuh, 2001). In numerous studies, time spent practising educationally purposeful behaviours has been positively associated with improved academic achievement and increased rates of persistence to second year as well as to graduation (Astin, 1993; Kuh, Kinzie, Cruce, Shoup, & Gonyea, 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). In addition, certain institutional practices have been shown to lead to higher levels of engagement, such as encouraging students to meet more often with faculty and peers (Kuh, 2001). According to student engagement theory, institutions are educationally effective when they direct students’ energies toward identified behaviours and engage them at a high level in these activities (Education Commission of the States, 1995). In 1998, prominent student engagement scholars combined forces to develop a joint psychometric framework and instrument—a kind of grand unified theory of student affairs—that brought together over 50 years of research into the undergraduate experience. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is administered to students at over 1,500 participating 12 institutions (with an average of 600 institutions participating annually). According to Kuh (2009b),  In addition, questionnaires based on NSSE are being used in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (Coates, 2008; Strydom, Mentz, & Kuh, in press). Other countries such as China, Macedonia, and Spain also have experimented with instruments adapted from NSSE, making the engagement phenomenon worldwide. (p. 686) NSSE was developed to provide an alternative to traditional college rankings in the United States and to “help focus discussions about quality on the right questions rather than relying on the traditional indicators of institutional resources and reputation” (Kuh, Hayek, Carini, Ouimet, Gonyea, & Kennedy, 2001, p. 2). The conceptual framework is based on several fundamental principles, including the following: what students do matters more than who they are or where they attend; time and energy on specified tasks is the single best predictor of development; and institutions which engage their students in activities that contribute to desired outcomes can claim to be institutions of higher quality (Kuh, 2001). Alexander C. McCormick, Jillian Kinzie, and Robert M. Gonyea’s chapter (2013) in Paulsen’s Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research reviews the development of the construct and measurement of student engagement. They point out that the construct grew out of national educational goals and a discontent with measures of educational quality. Further, they describe student engagement as: an umbrella term for a family of ideas rooted in research on college students and how their college experiences affect their learning and development. It includes both the extent to which students participate in educationally effective activities as well as their 13 perceptions of facets of the institutional environment that support their learning and development (Kuh, 2001, 2009b). (p. 51) Thus student engagement is not a monolithic construct; it consists of student behaviours and student perceptions of institutional practices; and it connects to broader issues of educational quality. 1.3 NSSE, International Students, and the Institutional Context I am a cautious candidate for a culture that is very different from, and in some ways strongly dissonant with, the one with which I had been unthinkingly familiar.  — Guy Claxton in Sutherland, Claxton, & Pollard, 2003, p. 2  International students are one of the fastest-growing populations at the University of British Columbia (UBC). In 2009/10, nearly 12% of undergraduates registered at UBC were international students (UBC PAIR, 2009), and the university had an ambitious growth mandate for the next five years. By 2013/14, that had increased to 19% (UBC PAIR, 2013). Within this mandate, the administration recognizes that international students’ retention and learning are not inevitable outcomes but require focused institutional attention.  In 2003, UBC was the first university in Canada to participate in NSSE (University of British Columbia, 2006). Subsequently UBC has participated on a bi- or tri-annual basis. The university’s NSSE results continue to raise questions across the institution: Based on NSSE results, how do we promote student engagement at our institution? In what ways are we succeeding in engaging our students and in what areas is there a need for improvement? How do 14 we understand differences in engagement within the institution (e.g., between faculties, or between commuters and students living in university-operated residences)? With this study, I added the following questions: To what extent is NSSE a valid measure of engagement for the growing number of UBC undergraduates who are international? Does “what matters in college” (Astin, 1993) matter for students from abroad?  A further impetus for this study was the concern that international students’ responses to NSSE might mask their perceptions. For instance, if they reported the same level of supportiveness from faculty, staff and students, can we conclude that they perceived themselves to be as supported as Canadians students do? I was curious to explore not only the ways in which Canadian and international students’ NSSE responses differed but also ways in which similar responses might mask different perceptions.   Recently, NSSE researchers underscored the need to interrogate student engagement theory’s applicability to diverse populations: Harper and Quaye (2009) remind us of the imperative to understand how student engagement operates among diverse populations, all of whose success is vital to the future of higher education and the wider society. The long research tradition that undergirds student engagement is largely based on full-time, traditional college-aged, predominantly White, male, residential students. This raises legitimate questions about whether those findings apply to student populations that differ from the historical norm (Bensimon, 2007; Harper & Quaye, 2009).  There is a need to . . . investigate how student engagement may manifest itself differently for populations other than those that predominate in the foundational research on college impact. A promising avenue for future research, then, is to understand variation in student engagement not just with 15 regard to academic major but also for other patterns of affiliation and identity. (McCormick, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2013, pp. 82–83) There is a need to investigate student engagement theory’s applicability to specific subpopulations such as international students. International students are a particularly fast-growing population in higher education worldwide.  According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “during 2000-2012, the number of foreign tertiary students enrolled worldwide more than doubled, with an average annual growth rate of almost 7%” with growth expected to reach 7.2 million by 2025 (OECD, 2014, p. 343).  Today nearly 4.5 million tertiary students are enrolled outside their country of citizenship, and Asian students account for 53% of all students studying abroad worldwide (OECD, 2014).  According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), Canada is the world’s 7th most popular destination for international students. International student enrollment in Canada increased by 84% from 159,426 in 2003 to over 290,000 in 2013. Just under 25% of Canada’s international students study in British Columbia, and 55% of Canada’s international students are studying at universities. More than 60% of the international students in Canada are from Asia, reflecting global trends (CBIE, 2015).  International students contribute significantly to institutional, local, and national economies. The estimated economic contribution of international students to their host economy was $26.8 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2013-2014 academic year (NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2015) and A$15 billion per year in Australia (International Education Advisory Council, 2013). A 2012 report commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spells out some of these contributions: 16 Overall, the total amount that international students spend in Canada ($8.0 billion) is greater than our export of unwrought aluminium ($6 billion), and even greater than our export of helicopters, airplanes and spacecraft ($6.9 billion) to all other countries. . . .In total, the annual expenditure of $8.0 billion by international students translated to estimates of almost $4.9 billion worth of contribution to GDP, 86,570 jobs, and $455 million of government tax revenue.  (Roslyn Kunin & Associates, 2012, p. iii)  International students are no longer visitors; they are primary “clients” of higher-education institutions, and their retention and learning is critical to institutional success, not only for economic benefit but for their essential contributions to the intellectual breadth and internationalization goals of institutions. Yet despite this significant influx, little is known about what contributes to the success of international students, how their success can be enhanced or failure mitigated, or what role their institutions do and can play in ensuring their success (Zhao et al., 2005). If NSSE is to be used to its full potential, institutions require a clearer understanding of international undergraduates’ perceptions of NSSE-related behaviours to plan effective programs and services to enhance their retention at Canadian institutions and to promote meaningful student-learning outcomes in and out of the classroom. For example, recent research into international student experiences focuses on the unique needs of Chinese international students (Spencer-Oatey & Xiong, 2006; Zhou, Knoke, & Sakamoto, 2005). International students from Asian countries, as mentioned, form a significant percentage of the international student population in Canada and at UBC. In 2006, the 8,525 students from the People’s Republic of China (considered for ease of identification to mean China, as distinct from Hong Kong and Taiwan) constituted 13.8% of all international students in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2006). In total, students from China, Taiwan, and 17 Hong Kong accounted for 17.9% of all international students in Canada. At UBC Vancouver, 694 students from China formed the largest group of international undergraduates by citizenship in 2007/08 (UBC PAIR, 2008). Combined with students from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, the 1,596 students from these five countries and regions accounted for 40.8% of the international undergraduates at UBC Vancouver. These students have often been raised in cultures quite distinct from those of their Canadian student peers.  1.4 The Role of Culture International students bring the imprint of their cultural contexts with them. For the purposes of this study, I define culture as “the learned and shared patterns of beliefs, behaviors, and values of groups of interacting people” (Bennett, 1998, p. 3). Michael Mercil (n.d.) talks about a person from the land of yellow sunglasses who goes to visit the land of blue sunglasses and, upon returning, announces to his friends that everything he saw there was green. Our cultural lenses affect the way we interpret our experiences. In a world where a white dress can symbolize either a wedding or a funeral, it is short-sighted to think that social constructs such as extracurricular activities, student–faculty member relationships, and study skills are universal. Cultural anthropologists have identified numerous frameworks for understanding cultural difference (Hall, 1966, 1976a, 1976b; Hofstede, 2001; Kluckhohn, 1949; Ting-Toomey, 1999;Trompenaars, 1993) as well as our sensitivity to difference (Bennett, 1986). More recently, psychology professor Richard Nisbett has explored the impact of geography and place on our fundamental ways of seeing the world (2003). In this study, participants were clear in their responses and preferences. They were not always as clear about why they held these views or how the university should address their concerns. Geert Hofstede’s (2001) extensive research alone and later with his son Gert Jan 18 (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005) into national cultural difference provides a sensitizing framework to help us understand and anticipate ways that international students might engage with their institution differently than domestic students, how their responses to NSSE might differ, and how their institution can support them in achieving desirable outcomes.  The culture of a country—or other category of people—is not a combination of properties of the “average citizen” nor a “modal personality.” It is, among other things, a set of likely reactions of citizens with a common mental programming. One person may react in one way (such as feeling more nervous), and another in another way (such as wanting rules to be respected). Such reactions need not be found within the same individuals, but only statistically more often in the same society. (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005, p. 167, italics in original) Hofstede’s (2001) research has yielded specific scores for each participating country along five dimensions of difference. Three of these dimensions are of particular relevance to this study: Power Distance Index (PDI): “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally” (p. 46). Individualism Index (IDV): “pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family. Collectivism as its opposite pertains to societies in which people from birth 19 onward are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetimes continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty” (p. 76). Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UA): “the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations” (p. 167). Using Hofstede’s frameworks, we are able to understand and anticipate ways that international students might experience their institution differently than domestic students (throughout this study, I use domestic to mean permanent residents and citizens of Canada). We could expect that international students might encounter their academic and social life differently than students from a North American cultural context. We could expect these differences to colour students’ responses to NSSE regarding how they engage with the institution. Finally, we could expect these differences to impact the role the institution can play to support international students in achieving desirable outcomes. 1.5 Research Questions The purpose of my study was to provide recommendations for practice for faculty and administrators in higher education regarding how international undergraduates interpret select NSSE questions and perceive select behaviours identified in NSSE, which includes both student behaviours and institutional practices. With support from the Office of the Vice President, Students and the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, this study was constructed in light of existing data comparing UBC Vancouver international and domestic students’ responses to NSSE 2008. Using focus group methodology, this study considered the relevance of NSSE and student engagement theory to international students. This dissertation describes how UBC international undergraduates from select countries interpret NSSE questions and perceive NSSE 20 behaviours, analyzes how participants perceive their engagement with their host university, and summarizes implications for educational policy and practice.  Specifically, this study addressed the following research questions: 1. How do UBC international undergraduate students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan interpret select NSSE questions and perceive select NSSE behaviours? How do these interpretations and perceptions compare to those of Canadian undergraduate students? 2. How do UBC international undergraduate students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan perceive their engagement with their host university? How do these interpretations and perceptions compare to those of Canadian undergraduate students? 3. Regarding UBC international and domestic undergraduate students’ perceptions of select NSSE questions, select NSSE behaviours, and their engagement with their university, how do first and fourth year students’ perceptions differ? How do students’ perceptions differ in light of residence status, faculty, and gender? This study contributes substantive and much-needed perspectives on the engagement of international undergraduate students, particularly international undergraduates from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Through quantitative analysis and focus groups, the study considered the role of culture in how international undergraduates make meaning of the behaviours identified in the student engagement literature. Results of the study can help institutions understand more broadly how international students perceive their experiences in higher education, how international students’ success can be enhanced and failure mitigated, and the role institutions can play in supporting their international students’ success. 21 1.6 Organization of the Thesis The thesis is organized into nine chapters. Chapter 1 describes the part of my professional practice that sparked the study and the contexts within which the study occurred. Chapter 2 expands on the contexts of the study by reviewing the relevant literature and discussing its implications for the study, with particular attention to internationalization of higher education, international students in the context of internationalization, international students as a research focus, student engagement theory and its critique, international student experiences, and cultural difference. Chapter 3 contains an outline of the methodology chosen for the study with references to validity and reliability. Chapter 4 consists of an overview of the findings related to NSSE. Throughout the presentation of the findings, student comments are presented in their own words (at times in translation).  Chapter 5 uses one of the NSSE behaviours, participating in class, to demonstrate the approach to analysis and introduce a number of the broad themes arising from the study. Chapter 6 continues the presentation of the findings for the remaining NSSE items the study investigated, including student-faculty interaction, relationships with staff, and contacts with students different than themselves. Chapter 7 examines the findings in light of year in program (first year or fourth year), gender, faculty and residence status. Chapter 8 contains a discussion of the findings. Summing up, Chapter 9 outlines conclusions and implications for the study; it also presents recommendations for future practice, policy and research. Appendices contain forms used in the study, a copy of the NSSE 2008 English survey, and the research report submitted to the host institution.   22 Chapter 2.  Literature Review  To provide the appropriate background for the study reported in this thesis, this review examines selected literature related to three specific areas—internationalization of post-secondary education, international students, and student engagement—with a brief discussion of cultural difference. The basis for this review is a literature search conducted in 2007 and again in 2014 using Academic Search Premier (2007), Academic Search Complete (2014), ProQuest, ERIC, and Google Scholar. Search terms included internationalization / globalization, international / foreign / overseas student, engagement / involvement / success / academic, and culture / intercultural / transcultural. The review included only literature in English. 2.1 Internationalization of Post-Secondary Education As described by Lubbers (1998), globalization is “a process that widens the extent and form of cross-border transactions among people, assets, goods and services and that deepens the economic interdependence between and among globalizing entities, which may be private or public institutions or governments” (p. xx).  Altbach and Knight (2007) published a review of internationalization of higher education in which they define globalization in higher education as “the economic, political and societal forces pushing 21st century higher education toward greater international involvement” (p. 27). They further describe a profusion of activities, undertaken by public and private entities, “created to cope with globalization and to reap its benefits” (p. 27). Altbach and Knight view internationalization of higher education as a response to the forces of globalization, which is the 23 view taken in this study. In 2003, Knight updated her classic 1994 definition of internationalization to read: “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education” (Knight, 2003, p. 2).  Sounding a cautionary note, Altbach and Knight warn that globalization tends to concentrate “wealth, knowledge and power” where they may be found already (2007, p. 28). This echoes Knight’s earlier observation that internationalization is seen in some regions of the world as “a form of westernization or even neo-colonialism” (1999, p. 1; Knight & de Wit, 1997). Furthermore, Stromquist (2002) contends that globalized capitalism exploits marginalized members of society, reduces their access to education and furthers existing inequities.  Eva Egron-Polak’s (2014) overview of the International Association of Universities (IAU) 4th Global Survey findings indicated that “the study confirms the importance of internationalization for higher education institutions. With percent (sic) 69 percent of the respondents stating that it is of high importance, 27 percent indicating that it has remained high over the past three years, and an additional 30 percent reporting that it increased substantially in importance during that same period, the centrality of this process in higher education is clear” (p. 8). Egron-Polak finds that the benefits of internationalization have been consistent over time, with “student awareness of or engagement with international issues” ranked by participants as the highest benefit (p. 8). Numerous elements of internationalization have been described in the literature, including an international ethos on campus (Harari, 1989), curriculum innovation (Knight, 1994), international exchanges (Francis, 1993; Harari, 1989; Knight, 1994), and foreign languages (Knight, 1994), among many others. Numerous topics within internationalization have 24 been the subject of research—see Knight’s 2000 publication for a daunting list of factors that can be measured under the heading of internationalization.  Altbach and Knight remind us that while globalization may be unstoppable, internationalization involves numerous choices. Although consensus on the aims of internationalization seems unlikely, we as individuals and as representatives of educational institutions benefit greatly from identifying the particular perspectives we bring to the task. Classic models framing the discussion of internationalization include Warner’s distinction between market (or competitive), liberal, and social transformation models (1992); Knight’s process, activity, competency, and organizational approaches (1994); and Tillett and Lesser’s benign market, social, and competitive approaches (1992). Only when we understand our motives and those of our colleagues can we stay true to our own values and negotiate meaning with those whose values may differ. Tillett and Lesser (1992) traced Canadian institutional approaches to internationalization from the 1960s through the 1980s. They reported that in the 1960s, institutional reputation drew individual students to whom universities felt they owed no special services. During the 1970s, institutions upheld a moral and academic obligation and standard, assisting their own students and those from abroad through a broadened education. And in the 1980s, international students formed a specific market to be courted; they were seen to have choices as consumers of education.  It was against a primarily economic motivation that Knight warned in 1999: “Let us hope [future commentators] will say we were bravely open to the challenges and changes facing us, but mindful of the larger philosophical questions about why and what we were doing and the 25 ultimate consequences for humanity and our planet” (p. 16). In the Communique Declaration of the 2nd UN Conference on Higher Education (2009), participants declared that: faced with the complexity of current and future global challenges, higher education has the social responsibility to advance our understanding of multifaceted issues, which involve social, economic, scientific and cultural dimensions and our ability to respond to them. It should lead society in generating global knowledge to address global challenges. (p. 51) In her overview of internationalization research in Canada, Kumari Beck (2012) points out that “an uncritical pursuit of internationalization can result in a reproduction of the economic dimensions of globalization” (p. 133) but holds out hope that we can “move internationalization away from what Luke (2010) calls ‘edu-business’ towards more educational, sustainable, life-serving practices” (p. 135). Barbara Kehm and Ulrich Teichler (2007) analyzed the research into international higher education since the mid-1990s and found the following trends in the research itself: there was a substantially higher volume of research, more of the research appeared in general publications about higher education and was addressed to policymakers rather than researchers, the research was more closely linked to other topics and showed a broad acceptance of the imperative of internationalization, systematic analyses became more complex, and internationalization was treated as normative but existing within political contexts. International higher education is a topic of growing interest and importance.  Internationalization of faculty members and of the curriculum are important topics for research today. According to Lisa Childress (2009), “cross-case analysis reveals that differential 26 investment leads to faculty engagement in internationalization plans” (p. 30). Peterson and Helms (2013) assert that “an internationalized curriculum ensures that all students, including those who do not study abroad, are exposed to international perspectives and have opportunities to build global competence”(p. 29). Haigh (2008) makes an excellent point:  Most Western HEIs build from a knowledge base of national tradition, history, culture and literature (Crossley and Watson 2003). Commonly, there remain implicit assumptions of local knowledge, conventions of learning, teaching and language that disadvantage international migrants. . . The author believes that the best approach is to build from the assumption that most students are ‘international’ (Haigh 2002). (p. 432) A relative newcomer to the internationalization literature is intercultural communication, which now appears in the literature as a necessary partner to curriculum change; proponents contend that it is not enough to inject cross-border content into courses. One must also understand the cultural dynamics underlying the teaching and learning process (Bennett & Salonen, 2007; Bond, 2003; Odgers & Giroux, 2006). Doria Abdullah, Mohd Ismail Abd Aziz, and Abdul Latiff Mohd Ibrahim (2013) point out that the intercultural component of internationalization continues to lag behind:  The ‘international, intercultural or global’ triad is used as a simple benchmark to evaluate the state of international student-related research. Higher education today has achieved great feats in the first and third component of the triad; however, the second component i.e. ‘‘intercultural’’ is still a work in progress (p. 248).  27 As a founder of the internationalization at home movement, Bengt Nilsson (2003) defined internationalization at home as any international related activity of the university with the exception of outbound student mobility. Internationalization at home is proposed as an alternative “to embrace all ideas about and measures to be taken to give all students an international dimension during their time at the university” (Nilsson, 2003, p. 31, emphasis in original). According to Egron-Polak (2014), “there is almost global consensus that the most important institutional risk of internationalization for higher education institutions is that not all students will benefit from the opportunities” (p. 8). Haigh (2008) flips traditional internationalization work on its head: Meanwhile, the greater irony is that investments in preparing staff for internationalization often address the wrong audience (Haigh 2002). Normally, the ‘international student’ is not the issue. Graduates of an internationalised curriculum should be ‘able to adapt to an unfamiliar culture and operate in a socially and culturally diverse environment; appreciate differences in gender, culture and customs; and be able to work effectively and sensitively…’ (QUT 1997, 1.3). In these terms, most international students are already advanced learners, while many ‘stay-at-home’ students remain novices. (p. 432-433) Internationalization at home highlights the critical importance of international and intercultural competency development among domestic as well as international students.   Sheryl Bond conducted a pivotal study of Canadian faculty members’ experiences with and perspectives on internationalizing the undergraduate curriculum (Bond, Qian & Huang, 2003). Drawing on survey and interview data from faculty and staff across the country, this study found that 80% of faculty members (agree and strongly agree) see themselves as having the 28 primary role in the internationalization of the curriculum. Further, 80% agreed they made every effort to internationalize their courses. In short, the study found that faculty were aware of the need and willing to change to internationalize the curriculum, but that they lacked adequate time, sufficient resource materials, travel funds, and clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the exercise.  Valerie Clifford (2009) emphasized the need for an internationalized curriculum in her study of local indigenous, local non-indigenous and international students at one Australian university’s in-country and off-shore campuses. She supported her findings with Giroux:  Giroux (1992) argues that to progress internationalisation of the curriculum universities need to invite, and support, academics and students to become 'border crossers', to view the world from different perspectives and to question long held views of knowledge and what those knowledges mean in practice, to engage in a critical pedagogy that encourages the exploration of one’s own history and place to reach some understanding of self and of one’s own culture in relation to others in the global environment (p. 5-6). Betty Leask and Jude Carroll’s (2011) study of an intercultural student mentor program called for an alignment of classroom and out-of-class experiences such that students cannot successfully complete the experiences without meaningful interaction across cultures. They point out that not all students will be ready to navigate intercultural interactions unaided or untrained. They paint a compelling picture of intercultural learning as a normal part of student life: Moving from ‘wishing and hoping and . . . dreaming’ requires we re-conceptualise ‘the curriculum’ to include both its formal and informal aspects and we ‘align’ these to ensure 29 positive cross-cultural interaction and engagement occurs as a normal part of every student’s university experience. (p. 657) Tamsin Haggis (2006) poked at the notion that good teaching should address the diverse needs of today’s learners. She posited a middle way between old and new approaches that shifts the focus from the “diverse learner,” which can be a pathologizing construct in itself, to the foundational structures and approaches in the curriculum that create the conditions for the learner to fail. As she put it, “The question in relation to learning then changes from being ‘what is wrong with this student’ to ‘what are the features of the curriculum, or of processes of interaction around the curriculum, which are preventing some students from being able to access this subject?’” (p. 526). Matthew Mitchell and Darcie Vandegrift (2014) tackled the often neglected intersection of internationalization, multiculturalism (signifying U.S. racial and ethnic diversity), and diversity by documenting student perceptions of the constructs. Mitchell and Vandegrift found a disturbing lack of multicultural competence among White students which they contrasted with the high enthusiasm those same students demonstrated towards internationalization and international students. They concluded that their findings negate the assumption that this multicultural discomfort can be attributed to discomfort with difference and recommended a curricular approach, which their college adopted, to tackle this gap directly. The element of internationalization most at issue for student affairs practitioners is the engagement of students with the concepts, perspectives, and experiences that make their education global. How can we foster intercultural competence among students? How do our programs—from recruitment and pre-arrival outreach through orientation, peer supports, academic supports, health and wellness, leadership and involvement, coaching / mentoring, 30 career preparation, and alumni engagement—create an internationally aware and interculturally responsive learning environment for all students? At the heart of this discussion are the international students themselves, whose full participation can add tremendously to the life of the campus—if conditions exist for them to thrive. 2.2 International Students in the Context of Internationalization In lists of elements necessary for internationalization, international students feature prominently (Francis, 1993; Knight, 1994). Tillett and Lesser (1992), reporting on a survey of Canadian international educators, noted the following benefits of international students to a college or university (and to Canadian society overall): . . .a more diverse student body; an exposure of Canadian students to cultural differences; highly qualified graduate students who contribute to the research capacity of the institution; cultural enrichment of the community; a greater sense of the world of learning; and a window on the emerging global economy and its inherent challenges. . . . International students are future competitors, customers, allies and resources for a less insular, less provincial Canada; they are necessary because Canada has to understand a rapidly changing and perhaps threatening world. (p. 9) As Kira Espiritu (2009) reminds us, Ellingboe (1998) developed a conceptual model of university internationalization in her in-depth study of the University of Minnesota’s internationalization efforts. One of Ellingboe’s six necessary factors is “the integration of international students and scholars into the everyday campus life” (Espiritu, p.7).  International students are a key element in the success of internationalization of higher education (Knight, 1994, 2000; Schachter, 2007). Presaging the benefits listed by Tillett and 31 Lester (1992), Tillman (1990) wrote that international students promote valuable “cross-cultural learning” (p. 93) and represent a significant human resource to widen the world views of host national students and faculty. As researchers in Canada, the United States, and Australia have found, they also assist in teaching and research, contribute to campus diversity, sustain “otherwise nonviable graduate programs” (Burrell & Kim, 1998), and bring significant financial resources to their institutions and host communities (Schachter, 2007; Roslyn Kunin & Associates, 2012; International Education Advisory Council, 2013; NAFSA, 2015).  The benefits international students can bring are not, however, automatic, nor are they without cost. As indicated in a Canadian report on the 1988 OECD Seminar on Higher Education and the Flow of Foreign Students, “[foreign students] are full partners in internationalization and we should seek their satisfaction, not their gratitude” (quoted in Cunningham, 1991). Higher fees may mean that international students have higher expectations of the supports they receive, and if not satisfied, they may leave (Evans, 2006). If an institution invests heavily in overseas recruitment, the departure of a student can be costly in terms of human potential and the bottom line. Retention is the watchword at many Canadian institutions regarding international students. In an article for University Business, Schachter (2007) counted the cost of the decline in international student numbers in the United States after September 11, 2001, including fewer full-fee-paying undergraduates, research assistantships unfilled and course sections uncovered, and loss of diversity in the student body. He quotes the president of the Institute of International Education as saying, “If American students don’t know how others from Brazil, Chile, or China think differently, they won’t understand how the world sees us or how to become citizens of the world themselves” (p. 42). Federal governments that discourage the flow of foreign scholars, through intention or perception, risk losing their status as world-class centres of academic excellence (Johnstone & Lee, 2014; Rostan, Ceravolo, & Metcalfe, 2014; Trilokekar, 2010). 32 International student flows and international student policies in Canada are in part a product of the context of post-secondary education in Canada (Tillett & Lesser, 1992). As Evans points out, “the meaning of internationalization is highly influenced by external environment” (2006, p. ii). In the late 1980s, led by the United Kingdom, institutions in a number of countries, notably Australia and the United States, began to develop aggressive strategies to attract international students for secondary, post-secondary, and English-language studies. In Canada, a combination of funding cuts to post-secondary education and the success of other host countries in attracting international students led to increased institutional interest in doing likewise. The number of international students in Canada jumped from 36,751 to 133,022 between 1980 and 2001 (Evans, 2006).  By the mid-1990s, attitudes toward international students in Canada were shifting. No longer seen primarily as goodwill ambassadors of their home country or disadvantaged students attempting to overcome the limitations of their home countries, international students were starting to be seen as sources of revenue generation (Fisher et al., 2006).  The financing of post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada, which is shared by the federal and provincial governments, is complex and controversial (Fisher et al., 2006). Federal funding for PSE has been on the decline in Canada since the introduction in 1977 and 1978 of the Established Programs Financing Act (EPFA). Between 1977/78 and 1995/96, the number of full-time students increased by 54%, from 615,000 to 964,000 (Fisher et al., 2006). From 1994/95 to 2004/05, the federal government reduced spending on PSE by almost 50% per student (Fisher et al., 2006). During the 1990s, tuition rose 126% across Canada, accounting for an average of 20% of institutional budgets nationally. This latter figure was to rise to 29.1% by 33 2003. According to Fisher et al. (2006), “this rapid growth in tuition fees . . . is directly linked to decreases in government support” (p. 59).  At the same time as tuition fees were rising, there was public concern that international students were taking the places of domestic students and being subsidized by taxpayers’ money. It became apparent in many provinces that the provincial grant per student was not likely to apply to international students much longer. As Schuetze and Day observe (2001), “The questions of ‘who benefits?’ and ‘who should benefit?’ become less subject to debate and analysis, while ‘who pays?’ becomes the central question and issue” (p. 62).  In 1996, universities in British Columbia moved to a model of market-priced differential tuition for international undergraduates as the province began to phase out provincial grants for these students. The University of British Columbia (UBC) was the first institution in the province to voluntarily give up provincial grants for international students in exchange for the right to set and retain the differential fee. Internally this allowed for a trickle-down distribution of the differential fees such that faculties and service units received direct financial benefit from the presence of international students. In this way, according to Moran (1996), UBC attempted to balance objectives of students, the institution, the province, and the country and created “the correct conditions” for differential fees (p. 20). Evans’s (2006) extensive review of internationalization in the B.C. “university colleges” found that a similar policy of market-based differential tuition was established, but without the additional supports for students or the faculty or staff who work with them. Evans further found that the international student policies of the time negatively impacted the workplace and the learning environment at the institutions.  As evident in this historical overview, international students are a rapidly growing sector of the student population and are a critical element in the internationalization efforts of many 34 post-secondary institutions. But do the potential benefits of having international students at the institution necessarily become a reality? Does the presence of international students in the classroom automatically broaden the perspective of and contribute to teaching and learning for domestic students and faculty members? Do international and domestic students naturally find connection points and expand one another’s knowledge of the world and their place in it? Certainly there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the meeting of members of different cultures can end just as easily in mutual dislike as in mutual understanding (Allport, 1954/1979).  R. Lindsey Parsons (2010) undertook a study of 1,302 domestic undergraduate students at one Australian and two U. S. universities to investigate the claims that university internationalization produces certain desired outcomes for students such as world-mindedness, cross-cultural skills, and international behaviours. As she explains, “Although it was expected that internationalization would bring about positive outcomes in some areas, positive outcomes were in fact found for all of the primary elements of internationalization in almost all areas measured” (p. 328). Primary elements were defined as study abroad, contact with international students, and internationalized curriculum. Findings of Parsons’ study lend support to the increased attention on internationalization efforts at institutions seeking related outcomes for their students.  As encouraging as these findings are, in my 25 years as an international educator, I would say that mutual learning between international and domestic students does not always result from their shared presence on a university campus. My concern is echoed in Erlenawati Sawir’s (2013) qualitative study, which found that faculty members valued the contributions of international students to the internationalization of the curriculum but that they doubted domestic students noticed the educational potential of interacting with international students.  35 Interviews with academic staff in one university in Australia indicated that international students brought a diversity of cultures that inspired teachers in their teaching. While academic staff members positively value these potentials, they argued that domestic students remained neglectful and unaware of the changing cultural environment. It was a challenge for staff to get domestic students to utilise the cultural resources represented by the students. (p. 359) 2.3 International Students as a Research Focus As to the state of the research into international students, Doria Abdullah, Mohd Ismail Abd Aziz, and Abdul Latiff Mohd Ibrahim (2013) conducted a meta-study of 497 journal articles about international students in higher education. They observed that: The exponential increase of the articles within the past decade illustrates the heightened interest of higher education practitioners on issues and challenges concerning international students. (p. 241-242) In addition to this intensified interest in international student research, they concluded that international students brought distinct benefits but that the research was stuck in a deficit model: The international student population is the proverbial actor in internationalisation of higher education. As established through the 497 journal articles analysed, the students bring economic benefits to countries and higher education systems, introduce and strengthen diversity in higher education, globalising the curriculum and mindset of students, faculty members and the public at large. More often than not, they are also at a disadvantaged end of the spectrum, having being labeled as a ‘‘problem’’ for HEIs 36 globally. The biased representation has to be reversed, after more than 30 years of research on international students—they bring much more than challenges and tuition fees to our shores (p. 248). Researchers have positioned international students using a series of staged approaches over the past 60 years. Early research into the experiences of international students focused on difficulties adjusting to a new environment. “Migrants, foreign students, refugees, tourists, overseas business personnel, voluntary workers, missionaries, all those venturing into ‘exotic’ places were said to be at risk from culture shock (Oberg, 1954)” (Bochner, 1986, pp. 347–348). Lysgaard’s (1955) early research into Swedish students abroad resulted in the classic U-curve model of adjustment, in which the sojourner’s emotional state dips and recovers during the time abroad. These pseudo-medical models viewed the sojourner as psychologically deficient and in need of professional intervention.  The next generation of researchers into international student issues, including the Australians Furnham and Bochner (1982), objected to the medical model of “shock” and instead posited a model of culture learning. Under culture learning, also called Social Skills Training (SST), Bochner (1986) presented a more complex and useful construct by which one adds a new set of culture skills in order to become a “mediating person” between two cultures. The culture learning model takes into account the environment and implicates both sojourner and host. Sojourners initially have to learn the rules of the game and then the game itself. This places the sojourner at a disadvantage, since the people with whom the game is being played already know both the rules and the moves, and expect everyone else to have that knowledge and those skills. (Bochner, 1986, p. 352) 37  Bochner’s metaphor of newcomers to the rules and moves of a game is useful for this study because it is a simplified version of Bourdieu’s habitus and fields. This emphasis on environment and the metaphor of culture rules are echoed in later research into international student experiences. Bochner also laid the groundwork for subsequent emphasis on intercultural skill-building as a core competency for a pluralistic society: “Insensitivity to cultural differences and an inability to communicate and work with culturally disparate persons is a major source of inter-ethnic discrimination, hostility, or at best indifference and avoidance, and hence a barrier to the establishment of pluralistic structures” (Bochner, 1986, p. 356). The focus on sojourner stress continued in the early 1990s with three notable quantitative studies at large U.S. universities. Mallinckrodt and Leong (1992) examined the stress and social supports of international graduate students in the United States (n = 272). Researchers combined several existing instruments and surveyed graduate students living in residence at a large eastern university. The study was particularly concerned with the role of various social supports and other factors in mitigating adjustment stress. Findings indicated that “social support, particularly from the academic program, is important to the well-being of international students” (p. 77). The results also indicated that international students tend to manifest stress through physical symptoms, a finding that has informed the approaches taken by counsellors and health professionals working with international students.  Mallinckrodt and Leong’s findings demonstrated the value of social support as a “powerful coping resource” for people adjusting to a new culture (p. 71). They supplied a rationale for providing social support for international students, particularly supports grounded in the academic community and involving faculty members. As they wrote, “Quality relationships with faculty, faculty interest in students’ professional development, and the quality of instruction 38 perceived by students can provide a strong protective function against the development of depression in international students undergoing stress” (p. 76). Parr, Bradley, and Bingi (1992) administered their own survey instrument to international students at 100 randomly selected U.S. institutions to understand the nature and extent of international students’ feelings and concerns (n = 163). Key concerns of respondents were extended family (keeping in touch), cultural differences (such as American competitiveness), finances (including finding jobs), and school (such as finding an advisor and understanding lectures). The report characterizes respondents as “determined, thankful, happy, confident, cheerful, and cautious” (p. 23). The study suggests that international students are generally robust, their concerns are moderate, and their feelings are more positive than negative.  A quantitative study in the mid-1990s by Perrucci and Hu (1995) focused on one institution but employed a larger sample size than the previous studies. A survey was completed by some 600 international graduate students at a midwestern U.S. university. Designed to register students’ satisfaction levels as well as identify predictors of satisfaction, the study identified language skills, self-esteem, and a feeling of positive involvement with the social environment to be determining factors of satisfaction.  Huxur, Mansfield, Nnazor, Scheutze, and Segawa (1996) described their own experiences as international students in a variety of countries. Using the framework of culture learning, they contended that international students’ needs are under-reported and under-addressed by their host institutions. They concurred that adjustment stress is most pronounced early in the sojourn and that even realistic expectations cannot prevent problems. They emphasized that international students are at a particular disadvantage in understanding Canadian academic culture. Their 39 recommendations to host institutions included developing sound orientation and social supports for newcomers.  Another thread in this academic discourse is the question of how to describe Western academic culture to those who are already most familiar with it. Robinson (1992) and Burrell and Kim (1998) both set out key characteristics of a U.S. academic environment for their peers, who are, respectively, professionals in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and in learning assistance. Burrell and Kim (1998) emphasized that learning is culturally conditioned, that there are dangers in positioning students as deficient, and that “both [Chinese and American essay writing] styles are valid ways to present information but are not esteemed equally in either culture” (p. 91). In a similar vein, numerous counselling professionals working in educational settings have summarized for their fellow professionals various introductions to the international student as “patient.” Arthur (1997) stressed the importance of culturally aware counselling, sensitivity to international student issues, and awareness of the impact of these issues on the counselling relationship. Popadiuk and Arthur (2004) further pointed out how limitations in the international student literature itself may have adversely affected the counselling of international students. Specifically they criticized the limitations of culture shock models, lack of methodological diversity, focus on group characteristics, and the continued emphasis on problems of international students. These concerns are echoed in the research previously discussed.  Continuing the theme of counseling interventions, Hemla Singaravelu and Mark Pope (2007) point to the connection between acculturative stress and psychological impacts, including sadness and depression, loneliness and social isolation, discrimination and prejudice, identity and values confusion, sense of loss and homesickness, somatic complaints, cognitive distress, and 40 uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. Wang, Lin, Pang, and Shen (2007) reviewed the literature on adaptation experiences, including common stressors, of international students from Asia. They pointed out that “the extensive reports of these common stressors have remained consistent during the last half of the 20th century” (p. 248).They further assert that “the common stressors facing international students during their cross-cultural transition are interrelated, which means a single concern cannot be completely separated from other adjustment concerns” (p. 250).   Social support and English language proficiency emerged as significant predictors of depression and anxiety in a study by Seda Sumer, Senel Poyrazli, and Kamini Grahame (2008).  Students with lower levels of social support reported higher levels of depression . . . and were more likely to have higher levels of anxiety, suggesting that higher levels of social support might enable international students to be more socially active and interact with people more often and, as a result, reduce the feelings of depression and anxiety. (p. 434)  Sojourner stress and the factors associated with it continue to be focus areas for research into international student experiences. However, by the late 1990s, studies began to appear that called for a shift in focus from problems of international students to ways they themselves could be successful. Purdie, O’Donoghue, and da Silva (1998) conducted interviews and obtained diaries and letters of advice from seven Indonesian students at an Australian university. Their study concluded: “The challenge for those involved with international students, therefore, is not to focus on the problems but rather to ensure that students engage in a process of appropriate goal setting and use effective coping mechanisms or self-regulatory behaviour in order to achieve their goals” (n.p.). 41 Subsequent studies underscored the importance of moving beyond needs assessment. The Australians Weiland and Novak (1999) used a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to challenge traditional notions of academic learning needs of international students. The researchers concluded that performing academically is not the primary challenge for international students, but rather understanding the schema underlying the academic culture. Language, they argued, though often seen in the research as a key area of concern for international students, is not the real issue; the issue is language filtered through cultural schema. Their findings provided a powerful challenge to the previous research and set the stage for future studies.  Ridley (2004) added a critical dimension to the study of international students by involving the environment (in the form of faculty) and notions of capital rather than focusing only on student needs. Ridley used qualitative methods, including interviews, questionnaires, and various curriculum materials, to explore the literacy and learning experiences of one-year master’s students at a U.K. university. Perspectives of faculty members were also sought and provided a rich counterpoint to students’ voices. Findings from the study indicated that academic discourse can be “confusing and mysterious” to newcomers from a different cultural context (p. 91). “The confusion can be particularly great for students coming from cultural and language backgrounds that are different to those underpinning the dominant ideologies of higher education institutions” (p. 91). Ridley concluded that confusion was highest for students lacking the “cultural capital” (Bourdieu, 1984) that was valued in a particular educational context. She further stated, “I believe that it is those who are already confident insiders in academic discourse communities who are most likely to be in the position to change these dominant ideologies, and 42 we are doing those without the valued cultural capital a disservice if we do not consider ways of opening the doors to higher education discourses which may often seem to be locked” (p. 92). It seems the construct of international student has become sufficiently mainstream to warrant critique, at least in Australia. In 2003, Devos published a Foucauldian policy analysis of the discursive construction of “the international student.” In early 2001, there was significant debate in the Australian media about grade inflation. Devos’s contention was that the conflation of international student with fee-paying student (which in Australia are not identical) and the subsequent characterization of international students as compromising academic quality reflected universities’ ambivalence toward internationalization and was a chance to engage sympathy for faculty. Devos contended that international students were set up in the media as the cause for declining standards, distracting from other possible causes, such as declining government funding. Devos’s work expanded the conversations about international students: learning is not only culturally constructed but socially and politically as well. Kumari Beck’s (2008) qualitative study of international students at a single Canadian institution in Canada similarly took a critical stance toward students’ positioning within the institution.  She described the resourcefulness of participants:  The key perhaps lies in something that was common among many of the students: a strong belief that, in spite of the difficulty (where these difficulties were expressed), the loneliness and isolation in particular, and the 'dark days,' the experience at GU was one of personal growth, change and increasing self-knowledge. (p. 271)  Continuing on the theme of students’ agency and resilience, in Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl’s (2010) edited volume on global student mobility in the Asia Pacific, Gail Baker described 43 her pre-departure interventions to develop resilience in international students preparing to study in Australia. From her long-standing experience as a practitioner, Baker identifies resilience as one of the most important capacities institutions can intentionally foster in students studying abroad. One of the most interesting findings from recent research comes from Rebecca J. Bennett, Simone E. Volet and Farida E. Fozdar (2013). Noting institutions’ constant search for variables that will increase the development and sustainment of intercultural interactions, they observed that institutional interventions may play a role. Specifically, “. . . the interview experiences may have contributed to the [intercultural] dyad’s friendship development. It could be argued that the interviewer role fulfilled the authority support condition of the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954) by offering positive reinforcement for the dyad’s discussions of intercultural communication and by posing questions that encouraged the students to share their cultural perspectives and feelings about difference and diversity, and each other. . ..The deliberate attempt to create an environment of ‘authority support’ for intercultural communication competency development has the potential to encourage multiple situations for the coconstruction (sic) of narratives of positive intercultural relationship development, from the interpersonal to the institutional level, within a university context. (p. 548-549)  This observation from their research lends support to institutional efforts to shape new student communications and programming to intentionally message the value (and challenge) of and craft facilitated spaces for intercultural interactions at the interpersonal level.  44 2.3.1 Chinese international students as a research focus.  A number of studies appeared more recently about Chinese international students, perhaps in response to concerns about implied homogeneity of international students in previous research. Zhou, Knoke, and Sakamoto (2005) looked specifically at Chinese students’ experiences of silence in the classroom. Ten graduate students in the Toronto area were identified through snowball sampling for in-depth interviews. The study challenged mainstream conceptions of Chinese students as homogenous and indelibly imprinted with Confucian academic perspectives—conceptions that disregard the role of the classroom environment. Findings indicated that students’ experiences do not fit with the literature about the “passive” Chinese student suffering from communication difficulties, foreign-language classroom anxiety, or Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) challenges (p. 288). Instead the study called for an awareness of power dynamics, “reciprocal cultural familiarity,” and “inclusive knowledge sharing” (p. 287). This study is useful in its challenge to traditional notions of monolithic culture. An additional strength was the option for students to be interviewed in English or Mandarin, depending on preference. Spencer-Oatey and Xiong (2006) also addressed Chinese international student issues but took a much broader approach. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, they queried Chinese students in a U.K. university preparation course about their adjustments to Britain (n = 136 for the survey, n = 20 for interviews in Chinese). The instruments they adapted had all been cross-culturally validated, and in addition they used grade point averages as comparisons. The study found that “the majority of students had few psychological or sociocultural difficulties” (p. 37). However, social contact with non-Chinese students was problematic and highly correlated with psychological stress. Also highly correlated with stress was difficulty in adjusting to daily life. End-of-course grade point average was negatively correlated with stress experienced toward 45 the beginning of the academic year. “Furthermore, psychological stress was very significantly positively correlated with perceived difficulty in sociocultural adjustment” (p. 45). This study is significant because it clearly documented the effect of socio-cultural adjustment on stress and the effect of stress on academic achievement. Along with similar results, these robust findings have broad implications for pre-arrival supports, orientations, peer programming, mentoring or coaching, and learning communities. Elsie S. Ho, Wendy W. Li, Jenine Cooper & Prue Holmes (2007) conducted a large-scale study of Chinese international students’ perceptions of higher education experiences in New Zealand. Among the findings was the result that “students also talked about some of the problems they encountered with the education system here, for example – difficulty in attaining adequate English language skills; participating in classroom discussions; working on group projects or assignments that required them to make oral presentations” (p. iv). They further found that “Social support networks in New Zealand are significantly different for Chinese international students. They tend to rely on co-nationals or relatives for support and display reluctance seeking help from formal sources of support” (p. iv). “Friendships and intercultural communication with New Zealanders proved difficult because of language and cultural differences. Students also displayed limited knowledge of services; nor did they participate in the wider community” (p. v). Picking up the thread of critique from Zhou, Knoke, and Sakamoto (2005), Zhao (2007) launched a fierce attack on the use of Chinese cultural patterns in working with Chinese international students. She argued that most research with Chinese international students was conducted with participants who were products of the Cultural Revolution, over 35 years of age, and hand-selected to study overseas for their loyalty to the Communist Party. The new 46 generation of Chinese students, she argued, has been attending westernized schools and is well adapted to American culture. An existing survey was administered to U.S. and Chinese graduate students in the pure and applied sciences and mathematics (n = 153). Results indicated more similarities than differences between U.S. and Chinese students’ beliefs about learning. The study suffers from the choice of disciplines, namely pure and applied sciences and math, in which U.S and Chinese teaching and learning styles would be more similar than in other disciplines such as the humanities. However, it is notable for its departure from conventional wisdom and the findings of previous studies.   However, not everyone agrees that cultural differences encountered by Chinese international students should be downplayed. Emma Kingston and Heather Forland (2008) emphasize the need for higher education institutions to attend to cultural differences:  Therefore, it is essential that higher education institutions (HEIs) functioning within Western traditions and welcoming international students must become increasingly aware of these educational differences. In the absence of such knowledge, international students are in danger of being left culturally adrift and may, thus, fail to gain maximum benefits from studying abroad. (p. 205) Gang Li, Wei Chen and Jing-Lin Duanmu (2010) add academic culture shock to the list of challenges Asian international students face. In their study of Asian international student experiences, they find that proficiency in English and high social communication with compatriots were significant predictors of academic success, and perceived significance of learning success (that is, pressure) by family members was a strong negative predictor of learning success.  47 2.3.2 Chinese cultural patterns.  To understand the research around Chinese international students, it is valuable to “overhear” conversations describing Chinese cultural patterns for a Western academic audience. Pratt’s (1991) discussion of conceptions of self within China and the United States provided a scholarly introduction to Chinese cultural, political, and psychological ways of knowing, and he also used the discussion to describe two divergent foundations for adult education. Pratt pointed out that adult education, like every field of education, is “not simply a neutral body of knowledge and procedures” but is culturally constructed (p. 307). Tweed and Lehman (2002) also laid out key Chinese cultural patterns for the uninitiated, again in a scholarly discussion, but applied them more narrowly to pedagogy. They presented a framework for understanding Chinese and Western approaches to teaching and learning and suggested that both approaches are indicated in and add value to a traditional Western academic setting. They borrowed C. S. Lewis’s term chronological snobbery to describe the kind of blind faith that the modern must be better than the ancient (Tweed & Lehman, 2002, p. 16). They further pointed out that their framework is cultural, not racial—one cannot know the learning approach of a person by the colour of their skin.  Zhang and Zhang (2013) provided a useful summary of Chinese versus U.S. teaching and learning styles:  U.S. culture is predominantly generalized as individualistic and having small power distance, whereas Chinese culture is collectivistic and has a large power distance (Hall, 1976; Hofstede, 1991). These general cultural distinctions are inevitably manifested in educational practices in the classroom. The traditional Chinese teaching is typically delineated as placing a premium on authoritative information-packed lecturing, students’ concentrated listening and memorization (Biggs & Watkins, 1996; Hu & Grove, 1999), 48 and hierarchical teacher-student relationship with  distinctive roles and responsibilities (Biggs & Watkins, 2001; Ho, 2001). The teacher is perceived as a parent, authority, and role model (Cortazzi & Jin, 1997; Pratt, 1991). . . . By contrast, the typical U.S. teaching is perceived as being student-centered, emphasizing verbal skills, critical thinking, analytical capacities, and egalitarian teacher-student relationships (Gu, 2001; Hu & Grove, 1999). The instructor is deemed as a facilitator, organizer, and critic (Cortazzi & Jin, 1997). Authority and strictness are not highly recommended, since they might stifle students’ freedom of expression and threaten a relatively egalitarian teacher-student relationship (Biggs & Watkins, 2001; Ho, 2001). (p. 396-397)  These descriptions of Chinese teaching and learning patterns informed my thinking as I constructed the focus group schedule. I wondered to what extent such patterns would be relevant for the students in this study and to what extent these notions would prove to be overly generalized or belong to a previous generation, as Zhao (2007) asserted. Through a wide variety of methods and approaches, working with large and small populations, multi- and monocultural populations, research into international students has reached a critical juncture: Will it remain a quiet specialization at the crossroads of intercultural communication, cultural anthropology, education (including foreign language acquisition and student affairs), and sociology, or will it merge with mainstream research into student experiences?  2.3.3 Research about international students and student engagement.  In 2005, international students entered the mainstream educational research literature in another way. Researchers with the National Survey on Student Engagement, administered annually to students 49 at more than 1,500 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, compared the responses of nearly 3,000 international students to those of more than 67,000 of their U.S. counterparts (Zhao et al., 2005). The study addressed the question of the extent to which international students engage in effective educational practices. The study compared responses to NSSE of international students with those of domestic students. Data were gathered in spring 2001 from 317 four-year colleges and universities (n = 175,000). This provided a rare opportunity to examine international student data in such large numbers, with about 4% or 2,780 identifying themselves as international students. This figure is consistent with the proportion of international students in the target population.  The study found that, with some exceptions, international students were more engaged than their American counterparts, particularly in the first year of studies. The study pointed to several areas for further research, including intra-institution comparisons, the experience of sub-groups of international students, the impact of density (the concentration of co-national students) on arrival socialization patterns and satisfaction, and the unique experience of Asian students, who in the study were found to be quite social but less engaged. In fact, the study did not have access to students’ countries of origin; a study with such access could focus more effectively on subgroup and culture-specific patterns.  J. Paul Grayson (2008) was among the first to apply a college impact model to the experiences and outcomes of international and domestic undergraduate students in Canada. Using survey (n=1415), focus group, diary and interview techniques between 2003 and 2006, Grayson compared the self-reported involvement in campus activities to objective and self-reported outcomes of first year undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia, York University, McGill University and Dalhousie University.  50 Grayson (2008) found statistically significant results as follows: international students reported lower satisfaction with faculty, more difficulty making friends, were as or more involved, and had fewer social supports. In addition, international students reported statistically significantly more contact with faculty and staff members than did domestic students. International students reported statistically significantly more difficulty making friends than did domestic students.  After considering a number of factors, Grayson indicated that, “As a minimum, it is possible to conclude that, overall, international students are as likely to be involved in their studies as domestic students” (p. 221). However, Grayson went on to observe that international students appeared to be putting in more effort for less return than Canadian students, both in social interactions and academic effort.  Overall, the evidence presented so far suggests that international students interact with new friends as much as domestic students and are involved in campus activities as much as, and perhaps more than, domestic students. On the other hand, fewer international than domestic students have sources of social support, particularly support from others in the event of academic difficulties. In addition, international students display lower levels of educational outcomes than domestic students. (p. 222) Perhaps most relevant to this study, regarding the applicability of student engagement to international students, Grayson (2008) says that “Regression analyses reveal that the amounts of variance in outcomes explained by variables in the college impact model are lower for international than for domestic students” (p. 215). This may suggest that college impact models, 51 of which NSSE is an example, have less predictive value for international students than for domestic students.  Interaction with students different than oneself is connected in the student engagement literature to desired outcomes. Mark Summers and Simone Volet’s (2008) often-cited study of culturally mixed group work provides a window into how past intercultural experience may enable or constrain future intercultural experience at university. They note that “the experiences students are having as they progress through their tertiary studies are not leading them to view mixed group work more favourably” (p. 362). They continue:  Overall, these findings are congruent with the view that past intercultural experience begets future intercultural collaboration, highlighting the importance of increasing students’ intercultural experiences at university. . . This lends itself to the interpretation that it was primarily the more negative attitudes of local students who favoured non-mixed group work that posed a barrier to international students joining mixed groups (p. 367).   When taken together, our findings provide support for the view that universities should take measures to promote culturally mixed group assignment work in order to achieve the educational and social goals of internationalization (p. 369).  Jeffrey Foot’s (2009) qualitative research studied the academic engagement patterns of new and experienced international students, using the NSSE framework as a data analysis tool. The results are important to consider as the methodology is quite similar to this study.  52  The findings revealed students are dealing with external cultural issues not measured by NSSE. These cultural differences are central to their experience and may impact their academic engagement in various ways. (p. 85-86) Foot’s conclusion that international students were dealing with cultural differences not measured by NSSE validates the choice to conduct this study in home language and with home-country focus groups, facilitated by a home-culture research assistant, as these methods are expected to reveal students’ culture-based perceptions and ways such perceptions might impact their engagement.   Foot further strengthens the argument that home culture influences lead international students to be a heterogeneous group made up of cultural subpopulations. This further validates the approach taken in this study to consider the role of home culture in international students’ perceptions of their engagement.  A key finding suggests international students are not a homogenous group of students with simply different needs than the majority student. International students from various countries and regions will interact with faculty and access various academic support services in different ways from other international students from different regions, countries, and cultures (p. 89-90) Finally, presaging the questions this study asked students about their experiences participating in class, Foot (2009) observed that “In general the students in this research were and continue to be nervous and scared to speak in class” (p. 91). He continued, “The importance of this finding suggests faculty control the environment to an extent and they have the power to 53 foster class participation from international students” (p. 92). We will consider whether the results of this study concur with those in Foot’s study.  Jane Njeri Irungu (2010) used the NSSE instrument, The College Student Report, to examine the five NSSE benchmarks relative to measures of student outcomes for senior international students at research universities. Irungu found that “engagement as a phenomenon had positive effects on perceived outcomes. All five engagement benchmarks recorded positive correlation between engagement and outcomes” (p. 131). SCE as a benchmark recorded higher correlations with the desired outcomes. It is therefore right to conclude that, according to results from this study, international students thrive in a supportive campus environment. It is paramount that institutions create conducive environments because this, as results has shown, has a strong link to the outcomes that are vital to the success of international students. (Irungu, 2010, p. 125) Irungu’s (2010) data mirrored an effect we will see in the UBC 2008 data:  The fourth major implication from this study is the revelation that international students did not have quality interaction with faculty especially on issues that were not part of classroom activity. Few of them engaged in research with faculty or discussed career plans with them. This is a weak point for international students given the importance of student-faculty interaction in the improvement of students’ college experience. (p. 125) Philemon Kiprono Yebei (2011) examined background and demographic factors of international students to explain engagement as measured by the College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ). Yebei found that “international students in their latter years in college are 54 less satisfied with the institution; therefore, student affairs practitioners and administrators in international student services should find ways to . . . take corrective action as problem areas are identified” (p. 145).Yebei noted that 32.4% of international students reported that they ‘never’ talked with a faculty member, counselor or other staff member about personal concerns. She concluded: “Higher education professionals could proactively avail themselves to assist international students, and not assume that students are doing well academically, socially, and psychologically, when they may in fact, be struggling with personal concerns” (p. 146-147).  Nadia Korobova (2012) compared the NSSE 2008 data by international and domestic student populations. Her findings were not surprising: international students indicted they were having more serious conversations with people very different than themselves than were American students. “Additionally, they feel more strongly than American students that institutions they are enrolled in emphasize helping them cope with their non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.) and provide the support they need to thrive socially” (p. 136-137). If we assume that fewer international students have a ready supply of people who are similar to them with whom to interact as compared to American students, then it seems reasonable that more of their conversations would have to be with people very different than themselves. In terms of supports, if we assume that international students may be less likely to come fully equipped with the resources and knowledge they need to be successful in a new environment, it seems reasonable that they would be particularly cognizant of supports that exist.   Interestingly, at UBC the attrition rates for international undergraduates were higher than for domestic students (14% versus 10%; internal memo). This raises a number of questions: Are UBC international students more engaged than domestic respondents, consistent with the 2005 study of Zhao et al.? And if UBC international students are more engaged, why are their 55 retention rates lower? What are the cultural schema that might underlie their understanding of the instrument and constructs related to engagement? If international students engage in more of the NSSE specified behaviours or engage in them more often, do those behaviours have the same meaning for them? And if we understand what behaviours might actually contribute to desirable outcomes for international students, what is the role of the institution to support those behaviours? This is the next evolution for international student research—to investigate international student experiences from a mainstream perspective but using all that we know about this population’s unique needs and perspectives. Such a study would contribute significantly to the literature on internationalization, student engagement, and international students as a population within post-secondary education. 2.4 Student Engagement Over the past 50 years, tremendous effort has gone into measuring and ensuring the success of students in higher education, particularly in the United States (Tinto, 2006–07). The student development movement has its roots in early-twentieth-century psychological and sociological research into the college environment (Evans, Forney, & Guido-DiBrito, 1998). As the work of Freud, Jung, and Skinner shifted the frame of education from moral upbringing to scientifically measurable human behaviour, institutions hired staff to attend to the personal and psychosocial development of students (Evans et al., 1998). Kurt Lewin (1936) laid the cornerstone for the scientific examination of student behaviour with his formula B = f(P x E), where behaviour (B) is a function (f) of the interaction (x) of person (P) and environment (E). This interactionist and rather mechanistic perspective opened the way for decades of study of environmental and personal factors to determine which variables can help to both understand and predict student behaviour.  56 In the early days of student development research, Arthur Chickering (1969) posited a series of seven vectors of student development, which created a foundation for understanding the “person” in the person-environment interaction. The seven vectors were developing competence, managing emotions, moving through autonomy toward interdependence, developing mature interpersonal relationships, establishing identity, developing purpose, and developing integrity. In 1987, Chickering and Gamson published Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education; these principles were contact between students and faculty, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on task, high expectations, and diverse ways of learning. These seven principles were some of the first practical guidelines for application of student development theory. Chickering and Gamson went on to say that the responsibility for improving undergraduate education rests with teachers and students, but also with educational administrators, who create environments in which effective learning takes place (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). In the turbulent 1960s, the phenomenon of dropping out began to attract significant attention among those interested in U.S. research into higher education. In Alexander Astin’s classic work Preventing Students from Dropping Out (1975), he described the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), which had been incubated at the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and fully launched at the American Council on Education (ACE) in 1966 (Astin, 1975). Already by 1977, CIRP was “the largest ongoing longitudinal study of the American higher education system [, with] some 200,000 students and a national sample of more than 300 postsecondary institutions of all types” (Astin, 1977, p. 3). In 1968, CIRP had begun as an annual paper survey of 243,156 freshmen, taking a random national sample from within 300 participating institutions; four years later, 300 randomly selected respondents to the freshman 57 survey were selected from each participating institution to receive a follow-up questionnaire. Thereafter follow-ups occurred at four- and five-year intervals, with a response rate of 40 to 50% (Astin, 1977). CIRP was a direct antecedent to NSSE and continues today; in 2007, CIRP released its report on 40 years of findings.  The original CIRP questionnaire consisted of 175 items, including pre-college factors and self-predictions about possible college outcomes, even the possibility of dropping out. ACT and SAT scores were also used. Data were treated using a variety of correlational measures with comparisons made between dropout and non-dropout respondent data. By 1975, Astin had enough evidence from CIRP to comfortably predict which students were likely to drop out, and Preventing Students from Dropping Out included weighted self-check worksheets that students could use to calculate their likelihood of dropping out. This level of scientific certainty in the CIRP approach reflected the behaviourist attitude of the times. Notions of agency and attribution had not yet made it into the mainstream consciousness of higher-education researchers. What a difference a decade makes. In 1984, Astin published his seminal theory of student involvement, postulating that the degree of involvement a student has with the programs and activities of the institution influences student satisfaction, academic achievement, and retention (see Astin, 1984, 1999). Astin defined involvement as “the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience” (1984, p. 297). The best known of his five postulates is this: “The amount of student learning and personal development associated with any educational program is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of student involvement in that program” (p. 298). This is counterintuitive for those academics who have long held that extracurricular activities and social development in higher education were extraneous to the primary mission of the institution. The positing of student as active agent—and 58 directing institutional energy to actively involve students—is one of Astin’s most enduring contributions to the field. His theory of student involvement took a significant step beyond predetermined predictions of failure and introduced a more fluid approach, showing pathways to desirable outcomes. Nancy Schlossberg (1989) built on student involvement theory to address what encourages or discourages student involvement. Her constructs of mattering and marginality provided clues about what motivates or demotivates students to join and remain in activities and programs, particularly while in transition. Schlossberg contended that people in transition often feel that they do not matter. This marginality will either persist or transform into a sense of mattering depending on a number of factors, including the sense of welcome created by the institution. According to Schlossberg: The creation of environments that clearly indicate to all students that they matter will encourage them to greater involvement. Such involvement should lead to the accomplishment of the goals with which Astin (1977, 1984) has challenged higher education. Institutions that focus on mattering and great student involvement will be more successful in creating campuses where students are motivated to learn, where their retention is high, and ultimately, where their institutional loyalty for the short-and long-term future is ensured (Schlossberg, Lynch, and Chickering, 1989). (p. 14) Ernest Boyer (1990) kept the focus on the environment when he called for a greater sense of campus community. In his classic text, Campus Life, he identified five themes to guide campus governance: a purposeful community (“a place where intellectual life is central,” p. 3); a just community (“where the dignity of all individuals is affirmed,” p. 5); an open community 59 (“where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected,” p. 7); a disciplined community (“where individuals accept their obligations to the group,” p. 10); and a caring community (“where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported,” p. 12). Ella Kahu (2013) very helpfully points out that the behaviourist tradition which gave birth to NSSE is only one of several approaches to student engagement in the research literature.  Her article “reviews and critiques the four dominant research perspectives on student engagement: the behavioural perspective, which foregrounds student behaviour and institutional practice; the psychological perspective, which clearly defines engagement as an individual psycho-social process; the socio-cultural perspective, which highlights the critical role of the socio-political context; and, finally, the holistic perspective, which takes a broader view of engagement” (p. 758). Recent research has refocused the scholarly discussion around student development on student engagement, namely, identifying student behaviours and campus environments that contribute to deep learning, personal development, academic achievement, satisfaction, persistence to second year, and retention to graduation. As the authors of Connecting the Dots declare, “Too many students who begin college do not earn a baccalaureate degree” (Kuh et al., 2007). Key questions addressed in the engagement literature are:   How do students achieve desirable outcomes in college or university?   How can their success (or likelihood of failure) be measured, predicted, and modified?   What actions can be taken by the student and the institution to improve desirable outcomes such as increased learning, achievement, and persistence to graduation? 60 Kuh (2009b) summarizes student engagement theory for student affairs practitioners clearly in his classic article in the Journal of College Student Development. According to Kuh, “student engagement represents the time and effort students devote to activities that are empirically linked to desired outcomes of college and what institutions do to induce students to participate in these activities” (p. 683).  The most powerful application of this theory is the National Survey of Student Engagement, which is a direct descendant of the quantitative tradition followed by Astin (1975) and others. NSSE consists largely of constructs that have been found to be related to desirable student outcomes; it is administered to students with a broad range of background characteristics at a broad range of institution types; it is administered to first-year and fourth-year students (with sufficient knowledge of the institution to make informed judgments); it is administered to large enough samples at each institution to allow for meaningful subgroup data analysis; it can incorporate local knowledge in the form of site-specific additional questions; and it is administered by an independent third-party survey organization (Kuh et al., 2001). As a quantitative research study, NSSE meets or exceeds commonly accepted standards for validity, reliability, and rigorous data analysis and interpretation within its target population. McCormick and McClenny (2012) remind us that NSSE “sought to enrich the impoverished national discourse about college quality by shifting the conversation away from reputation, resources, and the preparation of entering students in favor of the student experience, especially activities and behaviors empirically linked to teaching and learning” (p. 309). The 2001 version of NSSE introduced five institutional benchmarks of effective educational practice: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student–faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment 61 (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2001). According to Kuh (2001), the benchmarks did not represent underlying theoretical constructs; “instead, the benchmarks were conceived as clusters of student behaviors and institutional actions that represented good educational practices” (Pike, 2013, p. 152). In The National Survey of Student Engagement: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations, Kuh (2009a) explains: NSSE at the outset used a combination of empirical and conceptual analyses to identify a small number of clusters, or benchmarks, of effective educational practice. . .This was necessary because talking in any comprehensible way about several dozen individual questionnaire items would not encourage instructive, reliable benchmarking against peer institutions or further another important goal of the project, which was to shift the nature of the national conversation about what constitutes quality in undergraduate education. (p. 13) The following summary of the five NSSE benchmarks is abbreviated from Kuh (2009a, pp. 16-18). Level of Academic Challenge refers to challenging intellectual and creative work that is understood to be central to student learning and collegiate quality. Active and Collaborative Learning posits that students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and asked to think about what they are learning in different settings. Student-Faculty Interaction reflects the way students learn firsthand how experts think about and solve practical problems by interacting with faculty members inside and outside the classroom. Enriching Educational Experiences describes complementary learning opportunities in and out of class to augment academic programs. Supportive Campus Environment speaks to the idea that students perform 62 better and are more satisfied at colleges that are committed to their success and cultivate positive working and social relations among different groups on campus.   In addition to statistical validation, focus groups and cognitive interviews were built into the NSSE research protocols. The Centre for Post-Secondary Research at Indiana University defined cognitive interviewing as “a methodology that examines how respondents comprehend, interpret, and answer survey questions” (2007, p. 4). In the initial validation of the instrument, researchers conducted three to six focus groups at each of eight institutions across the country in March and April of 2000. The purpose of the study was to “discover the meaning students make of the items on the NSSE College Student Report” (Kuh et al., 2001, p. 34). Students were asked to describe how they interpreted the survey items, the meaning they made of the frequency ratings used in the instrument (very often, often, sometimes, and never), whether the items were clear and easily understood, and whether the items represented their own perceptions of the college experience (Kuh et al., 2001). A number of changes were made as a result of the focus groups, including deletion of some items and rewording of others, but in general there was a strong consistency between the meaning students made of the survey—and their behaviours in college—with those expected by the design team. The newly revised survey was then presented to students at a single institution through cognitive interviews. Again, the responses of these students indicated a high level of consistency between their perceptions and the intentions of the framers. This study followed the NSSE approach by examining the quantitative responses of international students as compared to domestic students and moving on to focus group research, with interviews offered to focus group participants, to gain a clearer understanding of how international students interpret the instrument and perceive the behaviours it describes. 63 2.4.1 A critique of NSSE and student engagement theory.  Perhaps it is premature to level any substantive critique at student engagement theory. NSSE leaders Alexander C. McCormick, Jillian Kinzie, and Robert M. Gonyea (2013) declared that, “At barely over 10 years old, student engagement as a framework for understanding the quality of undergraduate education is in its infancy” (p. 85). However, Nick Zepke (2014) levels a number of critiques at student engagement as an educational orthodoxy: Various critiques have emerged about the way engagement is conceptualised. McMahon and Portelli (2004), for example, raised concerns about the operational nature of engagement research. They, as well as others (Solomonides, Reid, and Petocz 2012a; Báez 2011; Barnett and Coate 2005), suggested that a more critical and democratic dimension needs to be inserted into engagement research. They regret the emphasis on behaviours and neglect of ontological and emotional dimensions in the learning experience. Yet, despite these specific critiques, the construct as an entity and the research that feeds it have escaped general criticism. (p. 700) Zepke continues: Engagement researchers could recognise contextual and personal diversity when researching engagement pedagogy. Thomas (2002) suggested that students who arrive in a tertiary institution with cultural capital or ‘familial habitus’ congruent with the existing institutional habitus, are likely to be ‘fish in water’ and succeed. Where learners think their cultural and personal practices are incongruent, they are likely to feel like ‘fish out of water’ and not engage. Engagement researchers need to keep in mind more the impact 64 of ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economic status, lifestyle and beliefs on engagement. (p.704) However, George Kuh (2009a) acknowledges these limitations and urges researchers to be vigilant against monolithic thinking: While it is gratifying that engagement is widely recognized as a desirable educational condition, the construct can be misinterpreted and misused. Indeed, proponents of popular ideas sometimes adopt a hegemonic, one-size-fits-all way of thinking. Student engagement is too important, as well as too complicated, for the educational community to allow this to happen. For example, as with other college experiences, engagement tends to have conditional effects, with students with certain characteristics benefiting from some types of activities more so than other students. In addition, the variance within any group of students, such as men and women or African Americans and Latinos, is almost always greater than between the groups (Kuh, 2003, 2008). We must be ever vigilant to be sure we are interpreting and using engagement data appropriately and continue to learn more about what forms of engagement work best under what circumstances for different groups of students. (p. 15) Hatch (2012) addressed the “black box” of student engagement when he critiqued the frequent citing of institutional programmatic interventions as leading to desired student outcomes in the student engagement literature. Referring to the relative lack of research into what it is about certain interventions that leads them to be associated with a plethora of outcomes, he says, “Though the systemic relationship of institutions and individuals with respect to engagement is tangled and immensely multifaceted, we can no longer shy away from the challenge of prying 65 open the black box it remains today” (p. 911). Similarly, my study was designed to peek inside the “black box” of student engagement, not in terms of programmatic elements that build to student gains, but in terms of the experiences of, and therefore the interactions between, international students and the student engagement behaviours the research indicates should be beneficial.  A number of concerns arise in considering engagement as a broad theory to drive institutional change. First, it appears to privilege certain outcomes (increases in grade point average, retention, and satisfaction), which are not universally understood to be the primary aims of education. Second, it appears to privilege certain types of student characteristics, such as the financial freedom to pursue extracurricular activities. Third, it seems to conflate behaviour with learning, as if the act of writing a 20-page paper or participating in a community service learning project in themselves constitute a set of student outcomes. Engagement theory may play an important role in reducing the curricular or co-curricular barrier at higher-education institutions, but it may not apply equally well to all students, even among U.S. students. A further concern about engagement is the temptation to mistake measures of self-reported student behaviour as institutional rankings. Numerous institutions that participate in NSSE now publish their findings and encourage prospective students and others concerned with institutional reputation to examine and compare their scores with those of peer institutions. George Kuh, founding director of NSSE, said he was “dismayed” that Maclean’s magazine used some NSSE results in its rankings of Canadian institutions in 2006 (quoted in UBC, 2006). He stated: “Rankings are inherently flawed because they reduce complex dimensions of university life to a single number. . . . Rankings may sell magazines but they do little to help the public understand what makes for a high-quality undergraduate experience” (quoted in UBC, 2006).  66 Simon Marginson’s 2006 talk at the OECD/IMHE conference of university rectors presented a substantial challenge to the international ranking of higher education institutions, particularly by Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He asserts, “They rework the opaque and complex inner workings of institutions into the simplified language of a football competition” (p. 1). Writing later with Marijk van der Wende (2007), Marginson observes that the existing league tables privilege English-speaking research institutions that are strong in science and describes the potentially devastating effects of global rankings on universities in countries where the hope of recognition of extant quality in terms of rankings is slim indeed. Marginson and van der Wende call for “‘clean’ rankings, transparent, free of self-interest, and methodologically coherent, that create incentives to broad-based improvement” (p. 306). Though NSSE leadership disapproves of the use of their results for ranking purposes, the year the top research universities in Canada participated in NSSE as a group (2006) is the same year that many of them refused to participate in the Maclean’s ranking process. Care must be taken to use NSSE results for institutional improvement and assessment without mistaking them for easy inter-institutional comparisons.  There are important limitations to NSSE, the research on which it is based, and the decision by Canadian institutions to participate in NSSE. However, since 2000, countless student affairs professionals across North America have been tasked with overhauling programs and services to line up with NSSE principles and findings. At UBC, a number of units have undergone strategic realignment in response to NSSE results. In many instances, NSSE has provided a defensible rationale for making the kind of changes that administrators would want to make in any case.  67 Educational leaders have an obligation to question the policy events and power structures that led to the creation of their institutions as they are currently constructed (Ozga, 2000; Taylor, Rizvi, Lingard, & Henry, 1997). On one level, the policy decision to administer NSSE to UBC students fits neatly into Harman’s traditional definition of policy: “the implicit or explicit specification of courses of purposive action being followed or to be followed in dealing with a recognized problem or matter of concern, and directed toward the accomplishment of some intended or desired set of goals“(quoted in Taylor et al., 1997, p. 24). A purposive action, to participate in NSSE, was taken to address a set of recognized problems. In the case of UBC, the problems facing the university administration included dramatically decreased funding to post-secondary education in Canada; a shrinking population of traditional-aged post-secondary applicants from within Canada and heated competition for international students; growing interest across Canada in fostering students’ extracurricular skills and experiences of community (“student life,” in contrast to sink-or-swim) and in the profession of student affairs; the perceived failure of existing national ranking systems to accurately and transparently measure educational quality; and dawning recognition of the need to overhaul undergraduate teaching and learning. Foucault’s power-knowledge nexus is apparent in the NSSE policy: “policy-making as an area of struggle for meaning” (quoted in Taylor et al., 1997, pp. 27–28). The meaning contested here is the aims of education. For NSSE architects, the aims of education include “high levels of learning and personal development” (Zhao et al., 2005), as measured by retention from first to second year (and eventual graduation), student satisfaction as reported on the survey, and grade point average (GPA). These aims and measures of education are highly problematic. High levels of learning what? NSSE does not measure content or construct learning. Personal development to what end, and for whose benefit? NSSE does not measure readiness to contribute to one’s 68 community, knowledge of one’s cultural context, environmental consciousness, political engagement, or readiness to create a more equitable society. NSSE does not measure the respect, reciprocity, and responsibility toward community that embodies “the goodlife” for some Aboriginal communities (Toulouse, 2001). NSSE measures only aggregate student behaviour, from which we are to extrapolate learning, personal development, campus environment, and ultimately, institutional quality. Even the smallest example shows the faith required to make this leap: high rates of self-reported participation in community service (particularly in the absence of reflection, evaluation, and action planning) may indicate civic-mindedness or may instead indicate resumé-padding. Behaviour, like experience, does not equal learning. Do retention, satisfaction, and GPA represent universal aims of education? They do not. Retention has been big business in the United States since the 1960s, when dropping out became de rigueur. However, in Canada, retention rates at research universities have typically been much higher than in the United States. From a duty-to-care perspective, dropping out can be disruptive to the individual, particularly as it is often accompanied by some sense of failure. But there is also the institutional consideration that it is far more costly to recruit a student than to retain them. Fit and retention have an uneasy relationship. If a student attends a large institution but believes they would be better suited to a small college, is retention in the best interest of that student? To hold up retention as an aim of education makes sense from an economic and institutional perspective, but it may not reflect what is best for students’ learning and development. GPA is a tidy way to measure academic achievement. But GPA is not a measure of academic rigour at the institution or of quality of instruction; it does not distinguish between more- and less-demanding academic programs; it does not indicate readiness for the world of 69 work nor the possession of realistic career goals; and it does not necessarily measure learning. Can what we value about student outcomes really be expressed in a grade alone?  Satisfaction as an outcome of education seems an odd fit. U.S. higher education has long had a tradition of educating the whole person; Canadian higher education has been more closely influenced by the German model of the research institution, in which higher education engages the mind but the rest of one’s time is spent separate from the “campus life.” What is the relationship between rigour and satisfaction? Is the positioning of satisfaction as a desired outcome of higher education pandering to students and their parents, particularly as NSSE results are designed to be used in attracting students to the institution? Or is satisfaction a useful proxy for the development and maintenance of socio-cultural supports that may have impacts on academic success? Certainly every research undertaking comes with inherent biases, and NSSE is no exception. NSSE is administered by an independent third-party organization, but the analysis is conducted by the institution that elected to participate in the study. Given the power of the instrument to affect the institution’s reputation, especially if the results are used for ranking purposes—as they are increasingly in the United States—there is always a danger of bias in the analysis. A further concern with the research side of NSSE is the potential for demand characteristics in that questions have high face validity and students may exaggerate their responses to boost institutional reputation.  A word about power structures is appropriate. First, there is tremendous positional power in a survey developed by top U.S. researchers. To challenge any one part of NSSE or the research behind it means poking at a massive and complex scaffolding of interconnected studies stretching back over 50 years. Although NSSE does provide the option to tailor questions to suit 70 institutional or consortium needs, tailoring questions is not a straightforward process. For example, the NSSE demographic questions about race and immigration status are not useful in a Canadian context, so for the 2006 survey, UBC worked with other Canadian institutions to add a question to NSSE from the Statistics Canada census. However, at the last minute the U.S.-based researchers were unsure about the question and excluded it. UBC deliberately oversampled its population in 2006 but could not sort the data by race or ethnicity as the necessary question had not been asked, and the effort to reconstruct the ethnicity data has been imperfect and time-consuming. Change does not come easily in such a massive structure.  In terms of policy outcomes, careful attention must be paid to how the results are used. Standardized testing carries with it the danger of distorting the educational process. Teaching to the test can be intensely motivating—if what we want to teach is what is being tested. It is unclear whether UBC has asked itself: Is NSSE the test to which we want to teach? At UBC, key watchwords around the student experience include global citizenship, transformative student experience, sustainability, community-engaged learning, research, teaching, and learning. Are these captured in NSSE? Is NSSE’s depiction of what student life ought to be appropriate for UBC students? This study helped to recognize and clarify the limitations of the instrument and find ways to include student voices not heard in the survey.  2.4.2 Student engagement and the aims of education.  Egan’s (2001) work on the fundamental ideas about education provides a useful framework for examining perspectives on student engagement. Egan argues that thinking about education in the twentieth century involved three fundamental ideas: socialization, Plato’s academic idea, and the developmental idea of Rousseau. Egan’s work is particularly salient because it focuses on the underlying assumptions 71 around education. It is worth taking time to use Egan’s framework to examine the construct of student engagement in post-secondary education today. 2.4.2.1 Socialization.  Egan describes socialization as starting with our hunter-gatherer ancestors who told stories to their young “to create for the hearers a conceptual image of what we may call the meaning of life” (p. 924). Socialization according to Egan has the advantage of fixing our values about the world, which then “become the things people think with, not think about” (p. 926). However, there are significant drawbacks of education for socialization, including the development of an “us” and “them” mentality and the value-laden nature of any socialization. Student engagement is a particularly powerful mechanism for socialization. The vision statement of the University of British Columbia states that UBC “will prepare students to become exceptional global citizens” (Toope, 2006, para. 3). A proponent of education as socialization would argue that student exchanges, community service, and participation in civic clubs and organizations are part of shaping the student-citizen of the future. Additionally, socialization is about creating a sense of “us.” For instance, in Korea, a main purpose of higher education is cementing one’s professional network of like-positioned peers who will ensure one’s success after graduation; grades become secondary once one has been admitted to the right university.  The socialization side of engagement also includes orientation, transition programs, and other elements that create a supportive campus community. For example, in UBC’s International Peer Program for new undergraduates, student leaders intentionally created the kind of supportive community they hoped would set a direction for participants to continue after they left the program. Under my leadership, every event they offered had to meet three values criteria: 72 Does is build community? Does it contribute to student success or learning? Does it respect the intercultural nature of our interactions? Socialization happens whether we plan it or not, but we can make choices about the kind of socialization we want to see. However, socialization as a purpose of engagement is troubling on several levels. First, there is a very real danger that we create too narrow a sense of “we.” Education cannot be about simple replication of what is but must also be about equipping students to engage in critical reflection and engage in social change. Second, student engagement theory flows out of institutional concerns that certain student outcomes be achieved. As such, it is an institutional solution applied at the individual level. This is problematic in that one size does not necessarily fit all. Engagement in the abstract is fine, but when it is measured by institutions, decisions have to be made about what will count: Will off-campus activities be valued as highly as on-campus? How about social activism? What about religious activities that clash with the dominant values of the institution? We must be careful what we measure—and that we not discount behaviours that are relevant for students just because they do not fit neatly into our theories. We dare not draw the boundary around “we” too tightly. 2.4.2.2 Plato’s academic ideal.  The second of Egan’s fundamental ideas about education is based on Plato’s approach to learning in an age of literacy. Plato taught that the mind is transformed when one learns the best knowledge available in written form. The traditional approach to post-secondary education in Canada, one might argue, has been largely curricular. Learning the best knowledge available in one’s field has been the path to a degree and a good job. The big news of student engagement theory is its stark opposition to the brain-in-a-box approach to learning. The professor who thought she was teaching chemistry now finds she is expected to teach the whole student. 73 So the dialogue continues. Is engagement an alternative to academic rigour? Do engagement activities dilute a traditional mission of post-secondary education (i.e., the creation and transmission of knowledge)? Are academic behaviours sufficient basis on which to gauge learning? Does writing a 20-page paper mean that the student has now achieved a certain mastery of research and academic writing? We all know cases where this is simply not true. Some have observed that students at Canadian institutions are more engaged now than ten years ago—but they also seem to be more tired, under more academic pressure, and overburdened by a full slate of commitments. In the past decade at UBC, a key message to students has changed from “get involved” to “choose wisely.” 2.4.2.3 Development according to Rousseau.  Egan’s third idea about education stems from the Enlightenment work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Rousseau argued that human beings, like the rest of the scientific world, undergo a natural process of development that can be observed and understood. Building on the work of Plato, Rousseau concluded that real learning takes place only when consideration is given to the stages at which the learner can best learn different kinds of knowledge.  Student engagement theory is a direct descendant of student development theories, which have served as an antidote to the heavily curricular approach noted above. Well-roundedness, focus on the whole person, and attention to students’ developmental needs are hallmarks of student development approaches to education. More than just helping students learn to work and play well with others, student development is about re-creating the institution so that students develop the skills they need to be successful after graduation.  There are significant challenges with the developmental underpinnings to engagement. First, the development of the whole person is not universally recognized as the purview of the 74 institution. Proponents of the sink-or-swim model would argue that development happens with or without the institution’s interference. Second, engagement theory has a subtle age and socio-economic bias. It offers far less for students with family obligations and those who have neither the time nor the financial freedom to join campus activities. The implication is that undergraduate education is designed for a certain type of student and the rest are left out. So the theory may accurately reflect a certain approach to post-secondary education, but that approach may still privilege certain types of students. Third, measuring behaviours is not the same as measuring learning. We can imagine a student who participates in community service but returns to campus with reinforced stereotypes about the people she served. She has had the experience, but has learning occurred? We must be careful not to lean too heavily on the findings of such measures, particularly in drawing conclusions about individual student experiences.  U.S. beliefs about the responsibility of the higher-education sector to provide whole-person education are not universally shared outside the United States. To the extent that other national post-secondary systems are able to get along just fine without student engagement, we must question the prescriptive value of student engagement theory. If we want an educational experience that is similar to that on which student engagement is based, then adopting student engagement theory wholeheartedly to guide our institutional planning makes a lot of sense. But if there are elements of that system that do not work for Canadian institutions, either from an institutional perspective or in considering the makeup of our student populations, then we need to think carefully before applying engagement as our measure of institutional quality and of the student experience. Much more investigation is needed to understand the extent to which student engagement applies to Canadian contexts and to the varied student populations within them. 75 2.4.2.4 Learner reflexivity in modern times.  Martin Dyke places this conversation squarely in our times as he writes about the heightened need for learner reflexivity in these times of high modernity (2009). In describing education that is suited for our times, he writes:  It will need to be an education that enables students to navigate their way through a diverse world that is full of manufactured risks, where there is a lack of certainty and ambivalence; where knowledge is contingent, transient, subject to change and judged as valuable only for as long as it is useful in practice. It will perhaps reflect the distinction that Bauman makes between ‘legislators and interpreters’ (1987), an education that does not legislate but rather offers alternative interpretations that people can accept, reject or adapt; in the end they need to make up their own minds as to how to proceed. Therefore, a task for education is to enable students to make more knowledgeable decisions in a world of rapidly changing and often contradictory information. (p. 292) 2.5 Hofstede on Cultural Difference National cultures are not monolithic but may consist of subcultures within a given country or region, as well as generational, gender, socio-economic, class, religious, and individual differences within the same context. When referring to North American culture, I refer to a necessarily overgeneralized kind of mainstream white European cultural context, which is recognizably only a part of the picture. I assert that culture acts as a kind of inexorable undercurrent pushing and pulling us in ways of which we are largely unaware, and I recognize the added complexity of individuality and of intersecting and multi-layered identities. Finally, while cultural difference often assumes a level playing field, I recognize the complex and constraining influence of power in intercultural interactions. 76 One framework stands out as particularly applicable as a jumping-off point for understanding a broader range of descriptors of culture. Geert Hofstede’s research into national cultural difference, while having weathered fierce critique, is intriguing for two reasons: it provides numerical comparison points for nationality groups on five dimensions, and it is based on a naturalistic approach of “found” data. In other words, it has both specificity and an air of authenticity. Hofstede’s country ratings and new online bi-country comparisons set the stage for country-specific analysis of the international student experience of NSSE. Do students’ perceptions of NSSE (the instrument, the behaviours, and the outcomes of education) reflect in any measure the kinds of polarity we might expect based on Hofstede’s dimensions? Just as Hofstede used the “found” IBM corporate survey responses to uncover his then four dimensions of national culture, so we will “find” international students’ responses to NSSE and from them explore what lies underneath in a cultural sense.  Hofstede’s work was particularly helpful to get at issues of representation and sampling. As our working theory is that international students’ home cultural conditioning may affect their perceptions of student engagement as measured by NSSE, then it is a logical step to expect that students whose home cultures are more distant from one another according to Hofstede’s ratings might also experience greater difference in their perceptions. The application of Hofstede’s dimensions to the study would suggest that examining student responses in national groupings might bring to light national trends that will be instructive; the dimensions were also useful in selecting which cultural groups to select, given the scope of the study and the limited representation of some national groups in the available population.  Where I departed from Hofstede is at the heuristic level. Rather than take the dimensions as definitive or focus on further statistical manipulation of the data, I took the view of Hampden-77 Turner and Trompenaars (1997), who saw their quantitatively adduced dimensions as starting points for discussion. This study focused on the experiences of students. If there is a commonality of experience between students who share a home culture, that commonality might provide yet another jumping-off point for further research.  2.6 Summary of the Literature Review I will now summarize the literature review of the internationalization of post-secondary education, international students’ experiences, and student engagement, with reference to dimensions of culture.  Higher education administrators and researchers view internationalization as normative and increasingly mainstream, but there is potential for the vast activity associated with internationalization to further social inequities if we are not mindful of the ultimate consequences of our actions. The most important benefit of internationalization, according to universities around the world, is students’ awareness of global issues, and the greatest institutional risk is that not all students will realize this benefit. Intercultural understanding as a student outcome and an institutional way of thinking is now emerging to take its place in the literature with globalization and internationalization. Internationalization at home focuses institutional efforts on critical pedagogy and the assumption that all students are international, in the same way that all people have an accent – when considered from someone else’s point of view. By shifting the focus away from the diverse learner, one can probe what about the curriculum makes the material inaccessible to certain students, flipping traditional diversity approaches on their heads. Internationalization of post-secondary education is big business, carries high institutional risk, and if undertaken mindfully, can realize the tremendous promise that it holds. Further study is needed to ensure internationalization moves along a path on which 78 we are “mindful of the larger philosophical questions about why and what we were doing and the ultimate consequences for humanity and our planet” (Knight, 1999, p. 16). In the research, we see that international students are a key element to the internationalization of post-secondary education. However, the benefits they bring, while myriad, are not automatic. The rapid increase in numbers of international students at Canadian institutions arises from a specific historical and political context which has led to international undergraduate students being the bearers not only of cultural knowledge and academic broadening but also of much-needed economic influx in an era of declining public funds for post-secondary education. The recruitment and retention of international undergraduates has becomes big business. The danger, then, is to deeply undervalue the enormous contributions international students make in Canadian academic communities and to offer them customer service and isolated edu-tainment rather than full participation and learning in its broadest sense. The role of international students in the internationalization of the institution merits closer attention. In the research about international students’ experiences, we see a progression from adjustment models focused on the deficiencies of sojourners to a culture learning approach characterized as learning the rules of the game. Culture learning introduced the role of environment and the value of intercultural communication skills as core competencies for people crossing cultures. Subsequent research has shown time and again the importance of social supports and socio-cultural success, including its impact on acculturative stress and on academic performance. Valued social supports were shown in some studies to include relationships with faculty members.  79 International students have been shown to be generally robust and emotionally positive, but a long list of specific needs or concerns has been identified, including language (more recently focused on underlying cultural schema), cultural differences, academics, socio-cultural issues, and practical concerns. The argument has been made that international students are underserved by their institutions and that the most critical time for supports is during the initial adjustment phase.  Gradually, the research began to turn away from needs of international students and focused on how they can be successful, emphasizing goals and coping strategies. More recently, the role of culture has been foregrounded: cultural schema, culturally mediated academic experiences, and the need for mutual cultural understanding in the classroom. Researchers are split over the question of how Chinese international students make sense of their sojourn and how they can best be supported: as products of Confucian-heritage cultures or as a new generation of students who belie the label of passive receptacles of professorial wisdom. And finally, the research suggests that learning is socially constructed and that underlying discourses and power dynamics are a critical element in the understanding of international student experiences. Further research is needed into international students’ perceptions of their own role in navigating the complexities of their experiences.  Regarding student engagement, the behaviourist tradition of student engagement research in post-secondary education grew out of early attempts to measure, predict and improve student success. Grounded in the observation that student effort and institutional intervention are essential elements of student success, student engagement research in the US now represents over 50 years of quantitative studies. The National Survey of Student Engagement, launched in 2000 as a joint effort by the key thinkers in this tradition, has become the pre-eminent research 80 undertaking in post-secondary education today with more than 1,500 institutions in the U.S. and Canada participating since it started. This study followed the NSSE validation protocols by reviewing institutional comparative data and digging deeper with focus groups and the offer of interviews. This study further followed recommendations by Zhao, Carini and Kuh (2005) by investigating specific cultural groups of Asian international students at a single institution, to better understand and contextualize the institution-level data.  Hofstede’s evocative work with national cultural difference provides a useful jumping-off point for this study’s discussion of international student’s perceptions. Given the increasing focus on intercultural understanding in institutional research and culturally constructed understanding in international student research, it is important to create spaces in which the influence of national culture may act as an unseen undercurrent enabling and constraining the agency students are trying to exercise. This links us conceptually back to Bourdieu’s work on habitus, the ways we embody the understanding of valued capital and fields on which we pursue it. There is a need to explore the role of culture in enabling or constraining international students’ perceptions of their engagement with their university and in understanding how they and their institution can enable their success or mitigate their failure.   In the following  chapters, I will present the methodology and findings of the study, followed by discussion and conclusion in the final chapter.  81 Chapter 3.  Methodology 3.1 Design Considerations The purpose of the UBC study was to provide recommendations for practice for faculty and administrators in higher education regarding how international undergraduates interpret select questions in the National Survey of Student Engagement and how they perceive select behaviours identified in NSSE, including both student behaviours and institutional practices. This study was developed in concert with and received support from the Office of the Vice President, Students at UBC Vancouver, which acted as project sponsor. The challenge was to build a clearer picture of students’ responses to NSSE itself and how they make meaning of the constructs addressed in the survey. To accomplish this task, the existing data set of NSSE responses for UBC was considered and used to inform qualitative data collection and analysis. Qualitative design elements included focus groups and follow-up interviews, which were made available to focus group participants but which participants chose not to access. After some deliberation, the specific focus was determined to be first- and fourth-year students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. For comparative purposes, I facilitated focus groups with Canadian students. Data were analyzed using open coding. Subsequently, the work of Geert Hofstede (2001) and Pierre Bourdieu (1986) informed the final analysis and discussion. 3.1.1 A qualitative approach.  Quantitative survey research has the advantage of generating a large amount of factual data from a dispersed population in a short period of time. However, surveys are not necessarily designed to show the meaning behind the responses. According to Kirk and Miller, “qualitative research is a particular tradition in social science that fundamentally 82 depends on watching people in their own territory and interacting with them in their own language, on their own terms” (1986, p. 9). To understand students’ responses to NSSE, it was necessary to learn about their views in their own words.  In numerous validation studies, NSSE researchers have used focus groups and interviews to explore the meaning behind NSSE responses of students at U.S. institutions. Both these methods are well suited for studies into people’s perceptions, as they allow participants to express their views in their own words. The goal of focus group research is not to infer from factual data but to understand the real meaning of participants (Krueger & Casey, 2009). For the NSSE validation studies, most of the participants were U.S students. The UBC study was unique in that it built upon the NSSE validation work but with international students in single-country groups using home-culture facilitators and home language. In her study of the applicability of NSSE benchmarks to international students, Irungu (2010) points out that, “as noted by Kinzie and Pennipede (2009), there is need for qualitative analyses that goes beyond the numbers thus ‘adding respondent voices and institutional contexts’ (p. 88) and helping to make ‘findings more credible and meaningful’ (p. 88)” (p. 130). As stated in the Introduction, this study was guided by the following research questions, which arose from the need to qualitatively interrogate the perceptions of international and domestic students who take the NSSE survey: 1. How do UBC international undergraduate students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan interpret select NSSE questions and perceive select NSSE behaviours? How do these interpretations and perceptions compare to those of Canadian undergraduate students?  83 2. How do UBC international undergraduate students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan perceive their engagement with their host university? How do these interpretations and perceptions compare to those of Canadian undergraduate students?  3. Regarding UBC international and domestic undergraduate students’ perceptions of select NSSE questions, select NSSE behaviours, and their engagement with their university, how do first and fourth year students’ perceptions differ? How do students’ perceptions differ in light of residence status, faculty, and gender? 3.1.2 Focus groups.  For more than 50 years, focus groups have been used effectively in the military, marketing, medicine, and the social sciences (Berg, 2007; Parker & Tritter, 2006). Focus groups can be an efficient mechanism to gather rich data about a handful of participants’ deep-level life structures (Denzin, 1989). Focus groups yield relatively large amounts of data from relatively little face-to-face contact with the researcher. They are often seen as adaptable and cost-effective (Parker & Tritter, 2006), though costs increase if one is outsourcing facilitation, note-taking, transcription, or coding. Focus groups can also be an effective way of capturing perspectives within populations that experience constant turnover, such as students. Authors in The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research summarized risks and benefits of focus groups by saying that they can be used strategically to inhibit the authority of researchers and to allow participants to “take over” and “own” the interview space (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2005). As Krueger and Casey state, “Focus groups work when participants feel comfortable, respected and free to give their opinion without being judged. The intent of the focus group is to promote self-disclosure among participants. We want to know what people really think and feel” 84 (2009, p. 4). For the UBC study, focus groups were conducted using standard protocols from the social sciences (Krueger & Casey, 2009). To increase the authenticity of responses (specifically limiting language, culture, and “host” filters), each focus group consisted of students from the same year and country and was facilitated by a bilingual undergraduate research assistant.  For this study, focus groups provided an invaluable way of gathering authentic perspectives of small groups of students who had a common cultural background as a way of highlighting cultural commonality. As Bogdan and Biklen (2007) have pointed out, “Group participants can stimulate each other to articulate their views or even to realize what their own views were” (p. 109). Participants may or may not be conscious of the cultural patterns with which they have been raised. Therefore, the cultural homogeneity of the focus group, including both its composition and the language(s) in which it was conducted, becomes an important part of the research design. Conducting groups in a home language was intended to serve three purposes: to reinforce for participants their cultural connectivity, to reduce reluctance students might have about speaking openly about their host culture, and to facilitate discussion about concepts that were culturally embedded and difficult to convey to outsiders. Many pitfalls await the unwary researcher who employs focus groups. In theory, focus groups create a safe space for sharing of authentic perspectives. However, it was unclear whether this sharing happens more authentically in the anonymity of strangers, as in random sampling, or in the intimacy of friends, as in certain types of convenience sampling (Krueger & Casey, 2009; Vaughn, Schumm, & Sinagub, 1996; Wilson, 1997). We show ourselves differently in public than in private spaces (Wilson, 1997), and this distinction can be profound in certain cultural contexts. Bias on the part of the interviewer can skew the choice of questions, the direction responses take (response effect), and the subsequent analysis (Borg & Gall, 1989). The synergy 85 between participants that was so lauded in focus group research can take the conversation onto tangents so that key points are missed entirely. Dominant speakers, whether from personality, race, gender, or other power base, can silence the less verbal and the underrepresented (Parker & Tritter, 2006). Those who honour silence may find it extremely difficult to compete with those who fear it, as the latter tend to fill silence with words (Ting-Toomey, 1999). Participants may feel cornered into giving a response and so produce a nicety rather than “natural language” (Wilson, 1997). Over the course of the discussion participants’ views may shift, so that when a statement is made and by whom is more telling than what was said (Parker & Tritter, 2006). 3.1.3 Interviews.  Individual follow-up interviews were made available to participants. Offering individual interviews acknowledged the cultural limitations of focus group work and was intended to respond to those who for a variety of reasons might prefer one-on-one conversation. Optional follow-up interviews can mitigate socio-cultural pressures on students to speak freely and increase the likelihood of authentic utterances. In certain tight-knit cultural communities, students might prefer the anonymity of a personal interview. Participants from countries that rate low on the individualism index (IDV) might be reticent to express views contrary to those of their fellows in a group setting. Participants from countries that rate high on the power distance index (PDI) might find it difficult to contradict the opinions of more powerful members of the group as determined by age, class rank, gender, race or ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Likewise students from both cultural groups above might find it awkward to express a dissenting opinion or one that might embarrass the host institution in the person of myself, as I was present for each focus group but would not attend the interviews. For this study, interviews were offered to participants at the end of each focus group session and were to be arranged individually with the research assistant. Interviews were to last 30 to 45 minutes, be 86 conducted by the same facilitator as the associated focus group, and follow the same semi-structured question schedule as the focus group. No focus group participants accepted the offer of an interview.  3.1.4 Role of culture and language. This study followed the recommendation of NSSE researchers Zhao, Kuh, and Carini (2005) by interrogating international student perceptions of NSSE on a single campus while distinguishing between cultural groups. The study was delimited to a single campus of a single institution. This reflects the exploratory nature of the study and minimizes variances within the data related to location, institution, or host country / culture. This is particularly appropriate given that the results of the study are intended to inform policy and program development at the campus or institution that hosted the research.  The construct of home language is incredibly complex, and this discussion cannot begin to cover the issue. Yet a few comments are necessary to clarify terms and acknowledge limitations. First, in many countries more than one language is spoken. It was therefore possible that the students selected for the focus groups based on common citizenship might not have had a common home language. Second, if they did have a common home language, it might not have been a language with which they had an equal level of comfort, in either linguistic or socio-political terms. A language with which a student has a facility from a home, school, or national context might not be their first or primary language. Third, political and ethnic divisions exist in many countries, such that students might have felt they had less in common with fellow nationals than they did with students from other countries, and in fact more than one participant mentioned this. Fourth, a number of students arrive at UBC having lived most of their lives outside of their country of citizenship. To address these issues, cultural informants were consulted when crafting invitations for participation to ensure that country-specific sensitivities were considered.  87 Which cultural groups to study? In shaping this study, target countries for focus groups were identified in part by considering frequency in the target population and culture distance (Evans & Mavondo, n.d.), a construct that refers to the relative dissimilarity between cultures on a variety of values continua. Values continua include individualism / collectivism, high-context / low-context, large power distance / small power distance, and masculinity / femininity, among others (Hall, 1994; Hofstede, 2001; Ting-Toomey, 1999).  At UBC in 2007/08, the largest country and regional groups by declared citizenship were, in descending order and including all registered undergraduates at UBC Vancouver: the United States, China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. The largest cluster of culturally similar countries or regions in the most frequently occurring list for UBC Vancouver was China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan; Hofstede’s values scores for those countries are markedly distant from those for Canada on scales such as power distance index (PDI), individualism index (IDV), and uncertainty avoidance index (UA) (Hofstede, 2001), but not in uniform directions; it made sense on many levels to include students from these five countries in the study.  88 Figure 3.1 Hofstede’s five dimensions for selected countries  Legend: PDI: Power Distance Index, IDV: Individualism Index, MAS: Masculinity Index, UAI: Uncertainty Avoidance Index, LTO: Long-Term Orientation. Values based on Hofstede (2001).  Accordingly, the study included first- and fourth-year international undergraduates registered at UBC Vancouver in 2008/09 who identified as citizens of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, or Japan. Students from the selected countries and regions accounted for 1,596, or 40.8% of UBC Vancouver international undergraduates at the time the study was designed (UBC PAIR, 2008). This grouping allowed for multiple but related viewpoints (as per cultural dimensions in Hofstede, 2001), creating a greater depth of field than a single-country study and presenting stronger results for policy implementation. See Table 3.1 for a breakdown of international students at UBC for academic year 2007/08 from countries and regions targeted by this study.   Certainly no one group can represent the perceptions of all international students. A study of this scope cannot begin to do justice to the rich panoply of perspectives represented within the 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140IDVLTOMASPDIUAICanada China Hong Kong Japan Korea Taiwan89 international student population at any given institution. At UBC, even the domestic population is remarkably diverse in terms of ethnic makeup. According to results of the New to UBC Survey in 2014, as many as 39% of undergraduates at UBC Vancouver learned Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese) as a child and still speak it proficiently (internal memo). Selecting groups that were well-represented and culturally distant enough from the domestic population to garner useful data made for meaningful discussion. Table 3.1 Undergraduates at UBC Vancouver from target countries / regions for 2007/08 Citizenship Number Percentage* China 694 17.7 Hong Kong 163 4.2 Japan 283 7.2 Korea 365 9.3 Taiwan 91 2.3 Total 1,596 40.8 * Percentage of international undergraduates at UBC Vancouver in 2007/08 (n = 3,912)  Source: UBC PAIR, 2008.  Control groups were not warranted due to the exploratory nature of the study. However, for comparative purposes and at the request of the institutional sponsor, focus groups were also held with first- and fourth-year undergraduates who identified as citizens or permanent residents of Canada. 3.1.5 Delimiting the target population.  The population was carefully delimited. To recognize the diverse nature of culture, particular country or region groups were selected for focus group 90 research. To acknowledge the importance of local context, the study examined perspectives of students at one campus of one institution. NSSE and the theories on which it was based deal with undergraduate degree-seeking students, so this study sampled undergraduate degree-seeking students whose academic home was UBC. At UBC this excludes, for example, students in visiting or incoming study abroad programs, incoming exchange students, unclassified students or EAL students, or those registered in a diploma- or certificate-granting program. An important characteristic of the target population was their level of expertise with the host institution and/or host culture. The study design allowed for inclusion of novice and experienced members of the student population. Several ways to measure expertise were considered, including length of time in the host culture (i.e., Canada); length of time in the host academic culture (i.e., Canadian higher education); and length of time in the particular institutional context (i.e., UBC). In the end, the most important measure was similarity to the population that participates in NSSE, namely, students in the first and fourth years of their academic programs. This choice mirrored NSSE’s selection process and allowed for a selection of participants based on available data. (Researchers did not have access to conclusive data regarding students’ length of time in Canada or length of study in Canada.) As such, the study is not a representation of new-to-Canada / not-new-to-Canada student perspectives but rather of first- and fourth-year student perspectives, as is NSSE. The study did not address issues of acculturation or differentiate between transfer and direct-entry students (those who were admitted to the university based on secondary school completion).  To further reduce skewing, this study considered those demographic factors that have been significant in the UBC NSSE results. At the request of the host institution, smaller faculties, whose students they understood to have very different experiences of engagement as 91 demonstrated by their previous NSSE scores, were not included. Accordingly students were selected based on gender, whether they lived in university residence or were a commuter, and by faculty (area of study).  “International student” is expressed in the UBC student records by the inaccurately named code “student visa,” a self-declared field that indicates the student is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident of Canada. Regarding citizenship, although students may have multiple citizenships, the UBC database has room for only one, which again was self-identified by the student.  Taken together, the target population was all first- or fourth-year international or Canadian undergraduates in the UBC student database currently registered at the UBC Vancouver campus in a degree program in a faculty with large undergraduate enrolment (delimited to Bachelor of Applied Science, Arts, Commerce, or Science), and self-identified in the student record system as a citizen of Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan. 3.2 Procedures The study began in summer of 2008 with a review of the 2008 NSSE data for international and domestic students at UBC. Data had already been analyzed by the institutional research office using factor analysis. In fall of 2008, ethical clearance was granted for focus group and interview research. Based on results of the survey data, I developed protocols for focus groups and interviews in consultation with my thesis supervisor. In early 2009, I selected and trained a team of undergraduate research assistants to schedule, recruit for, facilitate, transcribe and translate the focus groups and interviews. I led the team of research assistants to pilot the protocols and revise the protocols as needed. In spring 2009, at the same time NSSE is normally administered, 18 bilingual focus groups were held in homogenous groupings by citizenship and year in program. 92 Participants were welcome to speak in the designated home language or in English, and many students switched between the two languages during the session. For instance, the Hong Kong groups were led by a facilitator who spoke in Cantonese most of the time, and the participants spoke in Cantonese, English, or a mix of the two. Each group was facilitated by an undergraduate research assistant facilitator from the same cultural background. Individual semi-structured interviews were offered to participants of focus groups, although no participants took up the offer. The audio and video recordings were transcribed in their original language and translated into English. Open coding was used to analyze the data. In early 2010, results were shared with practitioners and policy-makers from the host institution through a written report and several presentations. 3.2.1 Analyzing NSSE data.  The first step in the research design was to examine the results of institutional analysis which compared UBC NSSE 2008 responses of international students to those of domestic students. The NSSE 2008 instrument is comprised of 28 multi-part questions which together form five benchmarks, as explained in the literature review. In addition, NSSE researchers have developed 19 scales and subscales, such as deep learning, personal social gains, and satisfaction. Analysis focused on benchmarks, scales and subscales. Rather than selecting a sample of the first- and fourth-year student population as NSSE recommends, in 2008 UBC significantly oversampled by inviting the entire population of registered undergraduates to participate in the survey (personal correspondence); the response rate was 27%. This large amount of data lends itself well to examination of specific datasets. As NSSE researchers commonly observe, there was often more variation within an institution than between institutions, so the survey lends itself to analysis of variance by subpopulation (UBC PAIR, 93 2008). Means were compared for individual questions, subscales, and benchmarks as identified in NSSE protocols. 3.2.2 Engaging research assistants.  In January and February 2009, five undergraduate research assistants from the target countries and regions (four international students and one permanent resident) were interviewed and selected. Staff from each of the target culture groups assessed the applicants’ ability to translate sample text. I hired and trained to facilitate, transcribe, and translate academically rigorous focus groups and interviews. Four of the research assistants were from the same citizenship as their student participants, and the assistant for the students from China was a citizen of Singapore.  Training included completion of the introductory tutorial for the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS). 3.2.3 Holding pilot focus groups.  Facilitators held six pilot focus groups, after which scripts and protocols were revised. Once the population was identified, 6 to 12 students from each target country or region were invited to participate in a pilot focus group, regardless of year level. One pilot group was held for each country or region in the study. Results from the pilot were used to modify the focus group design as needed, including question wording, order of questions, location, audio equipment, and approaches taken by the facilitator. 3.2.4 Selecting the sample.  Students were randomly selected using a stratified random sample in proportional representation based on citizenship (Canada / China / Hong Kong / Japan / Korea / Taiwan), year level (first / fourth), residence status (resident in UBC-operated housing / commuter), gender (male / female), and faculty (Applied Science (Engineering) / Arts / Commerce / Science). All participants were currently registered undergraduate degree-seeking 94 students at the UBC Vancouver campus. All participants were coded in the student record system as international, with the exception of participants selected for the Canadian student focus groups. Parker and Trotter (2006) identify careful sampling as a crucial element in focus group research. This study employed a stratified purposive sample (Vaughn et al., 1996, p. 58), including members of specific groups from within layers of the population (see Table 3.2). Within each of these subpopulations, such as first year undergraduate degree-seeking students from China, students were selected using randomly sorted lists (provided by the institutional research office). A list of demographic characteristics of participants by focus group is found is the appendix.  Table 3.2 Research phases of this study Quantitative phase Compare international to domestic NSSE data Qualitative phase Focus group(s) First-year students from China  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from China  Focus group(s) First-year students from Taiwan  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from Taiwan  Focus group(s) First-year students from Hong Kong  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from Hong Kong  Focus group(s)  First-year students from Korea  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from Korea  Focus group(s) First-year students from Japan  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from Japan  Focus group(s) First-year students from Canada  Focus group(s) Fourth-year students from Canada  Interviews offered to participants  I excluded students from the target populations if any one of the following statements were true: 95  They had participated in the pilot focus groups because they would not be responding as spontaneously as the others and their responses might be coloured by comments made by other students during the pilot. Approximately 6 students per country or region participated in the pilot focus groups.  They had been or were at the time employed by International Student Development at UBC because I oversee all staff in the department, and the employer relationship might have biased employees’ responses or my analysis. At the time of the study, approximately 30 students were employed by this department each year.  They were under the age of 19, the age of majority in British Columbia. Minors were excluded due to the difficulty in obtaining consent from parents abroad. In the end, two students were excluded based on the above criteria. Both were replaced by participants with similar selection criteria (year in program, citizenship, etc.). Exclusion of the two students is believed to have had minimal impact on the outcome of the study. Participants were assumed to be competent by virtue of their status as currently enrolled students at UBC who were over the age of 19. No special accommodation was provided regarding competency (such as additional measures to ensure informed consent). The steps I took to select participants were as follows: 1. Requested from the UBC Office of Planning and Institutional Research (UBC PAIR) a randomly sorted list of currently registered UBC students (Session = 2008W, Registration type = REGI) coded as international or Canadian (Visa type = STUV or CDN) degree-seeking undergraduate students in the faculties of Arts, Applied Science, Science, and the Sauder School of Business at the Vancouver campus (Program type = BA or BASC or BSC or BCOM) who were citizens of the target 96 countries or regions (Citizenship = CANA or CHIN or JAPN or HGKG or KOR or CHTW) in the desired year levels (Year level = 1 or 4). 2. Submited the resulting list to UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services (UBC SHHS) so each student could be coded as a resident of university-operated housing or not. 3. Preserved randomness by numbering each student in the order they appeared on the random list prior to any sorting. 4. Divided the list into 12 homogenous groupings by year in program and citizenship (e.g., first-year China, fourth-year China, first-year Japan, fourth-year Japan, and so on). 5. Within each group, determined the ratio of each demographic factor to be considered (male / female, living in residence / commuter, and Arts / Applied Science/ Sauder / Science. 6. Determined proportional number of “seats” per demographic factor based on 12 students per focus group. 7. Determined students to be excluded and remove them from the list (e.g., participated in the pilot; see list above). 8. Within each group, selected students from the top of the randomly generated list to reflect appropriate proportion of “seats” in each group. 9. Once a certain demographic category is filled, skipped down the list until the next candidate appears who met the required criteria—these were the initial invitees. 97 3.2.5 Recruitment and incentives.  Recruiting focus group participants for this study was extremely challenging. This section outlines the recruitment requirements and methods used and includes a brief discussion of