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A Helpseeking Profile of International Students. Elizabeth A. Klingaman Cristina M. Risco William E. Sedlacek The University of Maryland bethk@umd.edu. ABSTRACT.

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elizabeth a klingaman cristina m risco william e sedlacek the university of maryland bethk@umd edu
Elizabeth A. Klingaman Cristina M. Risco William E. SedlacekThe University of Marylandbethk@umd.edu

Over half a million international students are currently studying in U.S. colleges and universities, and this number is expected to rise strongly in the upcoming academic year (Institute of InternationalEducation, 2007).  As university administrators are increasingly focused on the importance of demographic diversity on campuses, international students are taking center stage as valuable contributors of new perspectives and backgrounds.  As such, it has become crucial to assess and tailor counseling services to the unique needs of this growing body of students.

abstract continued
ABSTRACT (continued)

To obtain a profile of the 2006 incoming international student class, 151 international students were surveyed at a summer orientation program before the start of their first academic year.  Descriptive demographic information on gender, age, and ethnicity are reported, and linked to specific helpseeking behaviors.  These behaviors included: “seeking tutoring aid in specific courses,” “seeking counseling for personal concerns,” “seeking counseling regarding career plans,” and “seeking counseling for drug/alcohol abuse.” Each of these domains of helpseeking were then linked to individuals’ career decidedness and major decidedness, todiscern crucial predictors and barriers to students’ careerdevelopment and their willingness to seek various forms of aid in campus counseling centers.

abstract continued5
ABSTRACT (continued)

Because international students can often have cultural values that do not support utilizing public resources for psychological aid, they often feel uncomfortable visiting counseling centers for emotional support.  However, these are the very students at risk for lacking resources and guidance to function under the stresses of culture shock.  Results from this data imply that international students arrive on campus having largely chosen their academic majors and career fields, but they are also much more likely to seek counseling for career concerns than for personal concerns.

  • Research indicates that when compared with U.S. resident students, international students are likely to experience higher levels of homesickness and discrimination.  
  • Age and English proficiency are positively associated with homesickness, whileperceived discrimination has been shown to negatively relate to homesickness.  
  • Perceived discrimination, in turn, depends on years of residence in the U.S., as well as race and ethnic identity (Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007).
background continued
BACKGROUND (continued)
  • If not confronted appropriately, culture shockand reverse culture shock threaten the academic and interpersonal success of these individuals, especially when compounded with academic/organizational and social marginalization (Arthur, 2004).
  • According to Reynolds and Constantine (2007), higher acculturative distress is associated with lower levels of career outcome expectations, and intercultural competence is negatively related to career aspirations and outcomeexpectations.
research questions
  • For international students:
    • Do they anticipate seeking various forms of counseling at the University?
    • Where are they in terms of career and major decidedness?
    • What is the link between the various forms of helpseeking and career and major decidedness?
    • How do ethnicity and gender relate to the above variables?
  • 151 incoming first-year students at the University of Maryland, College Park
  • Surveyed at beginning of first year
  • Foreign born, non U.S. citizens
  • Asian (42%)
  • Latina/o (23%)
  • Black (18%)
  • White (14%)
  • Males (66%)
  • Females (84%)
  • Age range: 17 to 20 years
items of interest
  • Students’ perceived likeliness to engage

in helpseeking behaviors:

    • seeking counseling for personalconcerns
    • seeking counseling regarding careerplans
    • seeking counseling for drug/alcoholabuse
  • Decidedness in choosing a major
  • Decidedness in choosing a career field
  • No statistically significant differences were found between men and women on any of the helpseeking variables, career decidedness, or major decidedness.
  • For career decidedness, major decidedness, and willingness to seek help for drug/alcohol abuse, no statistically significant differences were found among the mean responses of any of the ethnic groups defined in this study (Black, Asian, Latina/o, and White).
  • There was no statistically significant relation among any of the helpseeking variables and any of the career or major decidedness variables.
results continued
RESULTS (continued)
  • There was a statistically significant difference among mean responses of the ethnic groups on the item of perceived likeliness to “seek counseling for personal concerns”, such that White students were less likely than Black, Asian, and Latina/o students to anticipate seeking such help.
  • There was a statistically significant difference among mean responses of the ethnic groups on the item of perceived likeliness to “seek counseling for career concerns,” such that White students were less likely than Black, Asian, and Latina/o students to anticipate seeking such help.
seek counseling for personal concerns
Seek counseling for personal concerns





Note. Coded 1 =Very Unlikely, 2 =Unlikely, 3 =Likely, 4 =Very Likely Different letter superscripts are significantly different (p < 0.05).

seek counseling for career concerns
Seek counseling for career concerns

Note. Coded 1 =Very Unlikely, 2 =Unlikely, 3 =Likely, 4 =Very Likely Different letter superscripts are significantly different (p < 0.05).

conclusions implications
  • International students are prepared and willing to seek career counseling, but are not anticipating personal counseling.
    • Career counseling may be seen as more acceptable and may be used as a bridge to coping with personal concerns of adjustment and culture shock.
    • Emphasis on intercultural competence and acculturative distress may especially aid in setting and attaining appropriate career aspirations (Reynolds & Constantine, 2007).
conclusions implications continued
  • About one-third have not engaged in exploration before choosing a major.
    • Cultural and family mores of early decision may create unique pressure around participation in exploratory activities or courses, and re-consideration of occupational areas.
conclusions implications continued20
  • Although most students are clear about their field, about 25% are arriving without knowing which occupation they want to pursue in that field.
    • Emphasis on resources and exploration about career decision making in the U.S. compared to native countries will help broaden decision-making self-efficacy in multiple cultural atmospheres, and, in turn, heighten intercultural competence and reduce acculturative distress.
  • Institute of International Education: http://www.iie.org/
  • Poyrazli, S., & Lopez, M. D. (2007). An exploratory study of perceived discrimination and homesickness: A comparison of international students and American students. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 141, 263-280.
  • Reynolds, A. L., & Constantine, M. G. (2007) Cultural adjustment difficulties and career development of international college students. Journal of Career Assessment, 15, 338-350.
  • Arthur, N. (2004). Counseling international students: Clients from around the world. New York: Kluwer Academic.