A Case Study: Acculturation of International Undergraduate Students from China
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The purpose of this study was to examine the acculturation strategies of undergraduate, international students from China at a Southwest university. It applies John Berry’s (1997) acculturation theoretical framework that identifies four acculturation strategies: assimilation, separation, integration and marginalization (Berry, 1997). The objective of the mixed methods study was to examine the validity and consistency of Berry’s acculturation framework in varying cultural contexts by considering 1) the relationship between acculturation of international students and length of stay 2) Does acculturation vary by gender? and 3) the impact of acculturation on academic performance. The sample included 50 international undergraduate students from China at a Southwest university. The analyses conducted utilized data from an online survey and qualitative data gathered through student interviews to provide insight into the quantitative data. The results of the quantitative portion of the study concluded that there was no significant difference between the lengths of stay in the U.S. for participants surveyed. Second, acculturation did not vary significantly according to gender, and there was a weak, positive correlation between acculturation and a student’s cumulative GPA that was not statistically supported. The qualitative, face-to-face interviews provided three themes 1) acculturation of international students and length of stay, 2) acculturation varies by gender and 3) impact of acculturation on academic performance. The findings of this study suggest that additional attention needs to be paid to the ways in which the University supports initial engagement with the campus.