Research digest for practitioners: November 2016

Research digest for practitioners: November 2016

The November issue of the Journal of Studies in International Education was recently published. The final issue of the year 2016 focuses in on such topics as: the use of social media by international students, international service-learning outcomes, and internationalisation at home programmes. In this blog post, you will find a short summary of each article, encouraging you to further explore those of interest.

Social Media Challenges and Affordances for International Students: Bridges, Boundaries, and Hybrid Spaces

By: Jade Sleeman, Catherine Lang, and Narelle Lemon

Topic: Social media use by international students

Are you curious about the use of social media by international students? This study asks the question: In what ways do personal and educational uses of social media impact the international students’ sojourn experience? A comprehensive literature review analysed 63 peer-reviewed articles published in the last 10 years on this topic. Three central themes emerged in the literature that relates to the use of virtual spaces by international students for cultural adjustment:

  1. Bridging spaces: Studies show that keeping connected with friends and family at home –via social media – can facilitate support when adjusting to a new culture.
  2. Creating boundaries: Social media can ‘erect virtual boundaries’ as international students have a tendency to connect with home country rather than host country applications and nationals.
  3. Hybrid spaces: Social media use can also be a mediating tool that connects international students to their home country and at the same time create networks in the host country.

The Role of International Service-Learning in Facilitating Undergraduate Students’ Self-Exploration

By: Min Yang, Lillian Yun Yung Luk, Beverley Joyce Webster, Albert Wai-lap Chau, and Carol Hok Ka Ma

Topic: International Service-Learning

International service-learning (ISL) is a form of exchange where students participate in structured social services related to community problems in international environments. The authors interviewed 48 students in Hong Kong, enrolled in two institutions, who participated in an ISL programme. The main aim of the study investigated the role of ISL in the students’ exploration of self. Three domains of ‘self’ were explored: moral, cultural, and leadership, resulting in three categories summarising the students’ conception of self:

  1. Transactional, present oriented: Most students in this category described the ISL experience as positive, illustrating altruistic moral values, but were motivated by the instrumental purpose of the ISL to meet personal needs, showed limited understanding for the local cultures and focused on the present service goals with no future outlook.
  2. Transformational, present oriented: Students in this category also showed altruistic moral values, but articulated the community conditions and needs more clearly. They were also more culturally empathetic and participatory in leadership values, yet at the same time on focused on the present perspective with no future outlook.
  3. Leadership, future oriented: This group of students were similar to the transformational students, except they adopted a future perspective on service goals and actions.

Assessing Intercultural Competence as a Result of Internationalization at Home Efforts: A Case Study From the Nightingale Mentoring Program

By: Òscar Prieto-Flores, Jordi Feu, and Xavier Casademont

Topic: Internationalisation at home

This study focuses in on a university service-learning programme part of an internationalisation at home strategy. The Malmö University Nightingale Mentoring Program matches university students with children and adolescents of migrant background to (1) support the migrants in feeling safer at school and get them interested in university and (2) encourage university students to increase their intercultural competence. A mixed-methods design included a survey for mentor participants (95 students) and a control group (71 students), as well as 10 daily life stories from mentor participants. The quantitative findings suggest that no differences exist between the participants and control group, but the authors question whether the assessment rubric and more generally quantitative methods were appropriate to assess this population. This leads to a wider question for all practitioners working on internationalisation at home strategies: What is the best way to evaluate intercultural competence in these types of programmes?

Higher Education as an Extended Duration Service: An Investigation of the Determinants of Vietnamese Overseas Student Loyalty

By: Hiep-Hung Pham and Sue Ling Lai

Topic: Loyalty of international students

The authors of this study view international higher education as a service and more specifically an extended duration service. They investigate the determinants of student loyalty through a survey of 252 Vietnamese students studying abroad. The findings suggest that commitment is the most influential driver to loyalty, more so than satisfaction. In the case of international higher education, commitment is the student’s desire and physiological attachment to being associated with a specific higher education institution. The authors suggest that practitioners should focus on “increasing factors that help evoke an emotional bond with customers [students]…”

Contextual Identities: Ethnic and National Identities of International and American Students

By: Jessica Batterton and Sherri L. Horner

Topic: Identity formation of international and host country students

How are students’ identities formed while living with students of a different nationality? This research question was the focus a qualitative study wherein four students from three USA higher education institutions were interviewed. The findings suggest that the students grappled with their ethnic and national identity development in three different ways:

  1. Students as discoverers: Students showed interest in learning about and discovering the others’ cultures, thus impacting their own identity development.
  2. Students as ambassadors: Students acted as ambassadors for their ethnic/national groups, thus strengthening their own identity in that group.
  3. Students as negotiators: Students negotiated their own identity according to the context, demonstrating that their identities were not fixed.

With institutional support and guidance, mixing international with host country students in student accommodations can be seen as an internationalisation at home strategy.
Leasa is Knowledge Development Adviser at the EAIE
If you are an EAIE member, you can contact our office to subscribe to the Journal of Studies in International Education for a special price of only €10 per year.

Leasa Weimer
EAIE, the NetherlandsLeasa is Senior Adviser for Knowledge Initiatives for the EAIE.