Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

David Shallenberger


The experiences of international students, their reactions to the American educational system, their treatment, and a wide range of other issues facing them are well documented. Researchers have examined, among others, the gap in expectations between international students and staff, the perceived discrimination of international students, loneliness, resiliency, social networking and socio-cultural needs. A number of studies found that professors and non-international students found international student participation in class lackluster (Barber & Morgan, 1984/1988; Goodwin & Nacht, 1983; Fallon & Brown, 1999), though I would argue in large part due to the same reasons domestic students are sometimes non-participatory. All students, regardless of cultural background, are capable of experiencing shyness, of having feelings of inadequate knowledge of a topic being discussed, or may simply prefer to listen rather than speak, among others.

Some international students are reluctant to partake in activities outside of their same-culture group once class has ended; some would like to be more involved but are held back by a number of barriers. The distinction this paper makes is in viewing student participation in classroom discussion as different from participation in multicultural activities, and places a greater level of importance on encouraging international students to be more involved outside of the classroom.

A degree from a university in America implies exposure to not only the American culture, but the cultures of other students as well, to the extent of the diversity of the campus or surrounding area. To achieve this goal, institutions must do their part to support international students and identify the obstacles that keep them from being as involved as they would like to be with others. This paper aims to examine the reasons why certain international students choose not to or feel like they cannot participate in diverse groups or activities outside of the classroom, and hopes that by identifying some of these reasons, institutions will be better equipped to address them and provide support.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Psychology | International and Comparative Education