Date of Award

12-1-2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

McIntyre, John

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed-method study was to examine and to explore international students’ perceptions of resilience and how they coped with stress during their pursuit of a college degree. This study also explored forms of assistance international students received while studying at the university, how students capitalized on their own qualities to overcome obstacles, and to discover resilience factors that empowered international students despite challenges they encountered during the course of study. The researcher utilized two surveys, namely the Resilience Scale (RS) (Wagnild & Young, 1993) and the Coping Strategy Indicator (CSI) (Amirkhan, 1990), and a focus group interview to collect data for the study. The sample of the study consisted of 117 students for the RS, 106 students for the CSI, and 6 students for the focus group. All students were internationals from a Midwestern university in the United States. The findings of the study revealed that there was no significant difference in the RS scores for both undergraduate and graduate international students or for females and males respectively. The study also confirmed that there was no significant difference in the CSI scores for undergraduate and graduate international students. However, there was a significant difference between females and males in their CSI scores, suggesting that females were more likely than males to seek social support when they encountered challenges in life. Qualitative data from the focus group yielded meaningful insights on the obstacles that international students had to overcome, assistance international students received while in the United States, and protective factors students possessed in order to be successful in the university. The study also included a factor analysis of the data that confirmed a 3-factor structure of CSI (labeled respectively as Problem Solving, Seeking Social Support, and Avoidance). Even though factor analysis also verified the original 25-item 5-factor structure of RS, yielding a 5-factor structure of resilience (Meaningfulness, Equanimity, Self-Reliance, Perseverance, and Existential Aloneness), due to several cross loadings of the variables onto the factors, the analysis failed to verify the same variables contributed to the original 5-factor in RS. Plausible explanations for the discrepancy of the study of RS were explored.

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