|Based on the literature articles that have reviewed, I have assumed that the following hypotheses are successful:
1. Acculturative stress has a positive relationship with depression. High acculturative stress to the host country would experience more depression.
2. Both attachment anxiety and avoidance would be positively associated with acculturative stress. High attachment anxiety and avoidance would cause more acculturative stress and depression.
3. Self-concealment has a negative relationship with acculturative stress and depression. Higher levels of self-concealment would make higher acculturative stress and depression.
4. Social self-efficacy has a positive relationship with acculturative stress and depression.
High social self-efficacy would probably get less acculturative stress and depression.
5. Orientation class makes a good effect on reduce international students’ acculturative stress, attachment, depression, and self-concealment, and enhance their self-efficacy.
The effect of Orientation class on the stress of International students.
In recent academic year, according to the Institute of International Education in 2004, there are about 570,000 international students coming from all over the world that enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education. Among international student, students from Asian countries represent more than half, and the second largest group is those students from Europe. The number is raising fast now. At the same time, many issues of them are raising on college campus. They experienced and are experiencing and struggling with many difficulties, challenging tasks and stresses in U.S., because of the differences in academic and social norms between the host culture and the home culture. Considering more and more of them moving and acculturating to the U.S. society, for avoiding the negative psychological problems would influence and would affect the environment of society and college in U.S., their acculturative, academic and life stresses are generally referred to be concerned by college international office.
Orientation class as a special class opened oriental to international students for helping them adapt as soon as possible in college in U.S., because more and more international student come over here for study and they meet and encounter a lot of difficulties and problems, such as social integration, problems in daily life tasks, homesickness, role conflicts, academic concern, depression and other psychological symptoms during their daily life.
The purpose of this investigation is to study the influence of the psychological problem among international students from various regions. Specially, how orientation class can help them deal with their acculturative stress.
Statement of the Problem
The topic here is the effect of orientation class on the acculturative stress of international students. The independent variable is “orientation class”, and the dependent variable is “acculturative stress”.
According to the statistic from present data, the number of international college students in the 2007 academic year totaled about 1,070,000 individuals. With this number of international student, high level of concern in college has raised, because many international students showed that they have some psychological problems when they entered a new environment. From the old study and present study, it reported the same thing about the stress of the international student. Through a lot investigation, 1) acculturative stress, 2) attachment, 3) depression, 4) self-concealment, and 5) social self-efficacy are the main factors that caused the psychological problems of the international students.
Based on the old definition (Smart & Smart, 1995), acculturative stress is a psychological impact of adapting to a new culture. It has traditionally been considered as the process by which individuals understand and incorporate values, beliefs, and behaviors of the host culture in the context of the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the culture of origin (Berry, 1980). In addition to the old one, a recent acculturation research started to highlight the process of mutual change involving both cultural group in contact (e.g., Berry, 1997, 2001; Bourhis, Moise, Perreault, & Senecal, 1997). Take those international student in U.S. as an example, their situation of adaptation are concerned by many psychologists. They worried more about how the international students adapt to the host culture, so they made a lot research and wrote them down for providing these students some good strategies to manage the difficulties and bad experiences that come from acculturation (e.g., Mori, 2000; Sodowsky &Lai, 1997; Winkelman, 1994).
Researchers have reported that the reasons that cause the acculturative stress are 1) English fluency, 2) social support satisfaction, and 3) social connectedness. For most international students, language difficulties tend to be the most challenging issue during their new life (Mori, 2000), because bad or limited English skills would affect their academic performance, and academic difficulties in turn would affect their psychological adjustment (Lin and Yi, 1997). It is also a barrier that keeps the international students from socially communicating with American peers well (Hayes and Ling, 1994), which would higher their acculturation stress, especially for those students who have had high academic achievement in their home countries.
Beside language difficulties, dissatisfaction of social support is another kind of barrier that may also hinder international students from building up close relationships with American students (Mallinckrodt and Leong, 1992) and may has a significant influence on their psychological mental. A deep sense loss of social support is a big symptom when leaving their home countries, which may make them feel that it is hard to establish a good social support system in the U.S. as well as in the home countries. They may feel dissatisfied with their new social relationships in the U.S. and at the same time, they may loss their self-esteem, happiness and confidence. The result would be they become more and more anxious, alienated, or even disoriented in the unfamiliar environment (Pedersen, 1991).
Mallinckrodt and Leong (1992) found that the importance of social support among international students and the quality of the social support system had not only a direct but also an essential effect on international students’ psychological stress. So they had a conclusion that social support, especially from one’s academic program, is a good contribution to the benefit of international students. That means how satisfied international students are with their social support system may influence their levels of acculturation stress.
To better understand how well international students’ relationship with others in a new and unfamiliar cultural environment, it should understand their sense of social connectedness in their social support system with their satisfaction first. “Social connectedness is defined as an aspect of the self that manifests the subjective recognition of being in close relationship with the social world (Lee and Robbins, 1995, 1998)” (Christine J. Yeh & Mayuko Inose, 2003). Therefore, a person who has high sense of social connectedness can be more easily set up a relationship with others and participate in social groups and activities, whereas another person who lack social connectedness would be more likely to experience low self-esteem, anxiety and depression (Lee and Robbins, 1998). Together with social support, it may contribute to international student’s acculturation stress.
There some experimental studies indicated that attachment has a positive relationship with seeking social support from both the home countries and from new friends in the U.S and has a negative relationship with stressful life events and psychological symptoms of distress (H.-J.Chen, Mallinckrodt, & Mobley, 2003). Adult secure attachment normally appears a more open and benevolent consideration of imagined culturally unfamiliar others, and a broader base of supportive new friendships in a new culture environment. It consists of two factors, anxiety and avoidance (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998). Adult attachment anxiety involves an excessive need of approval from others and a fear of interpersonal rejection or abandonment, whereas attachment avoidance involves an excessive need for self- reliance and a fear of interpersonal intimacy or dependence (Wand, Chia-Chih D.C. and Mallinckrodt, Brent, 2006).
To international students, depression seems that it would happen easily every day in their new life. They are become more sensitive, emotional and impulsive than they were in their home countries. Living and studying by themselves make them involving in every details of life, which is a big pressure to them at that young age ( from 16 to 20), especially those who start to learn how to live independent after leaving their families and friends and have not any broad experience before. The symptoms come from the new culture that they move to and the maturity level that they have, such as interpersonal stress, low self-esteem, racial or ethnic discrimination, disappointment, resentment, anger, sadness, physical illness, and other symptoms of culture shock, when they found a big difference between their high expectation and low reality. However, several previous investigators have noted that those students with high acculturation would experience greater when they become more familiar with the norms of the host culture.
It may be should consider possible gender and regional group membership differences when self-concealment is mentioned in this paragraph. Specially, its difficult professional definition would probably make people confused, but what it really appears is not so unfamiliar. Many international students can’t help doing like this, when they find what happen to them is a shameful, painful, distressing and embarrassing thing, they would rather than avoid letting other people know, for instance, shame on telling friends their interpersonal conflict with other people, and keep their intimate relationship with a romantic partner as a secret. They are unwilling to tell people their personal information, because they don’t want to burden others with their concerns and problems, or they may think that would be make other people look down upon them. Of course, different level of self-esteem or personality could make difference among international students. However, according to some investigation, most female international student who come from countries based on a communal or collectivistic cultures would choose to depress themselves and shield themselves from others, in other words, they neither choose social support resources, such as their family and friends nor mental health services as their subject to address their concerns or fears.
In a sample of African, Asian, and Latin American international college students, except self-concealment, another potential mediating factor that would be examined in the relationship between acculturation stress and depression is self-efficacy. It is also an aspect of effective social skills, which may be an unavoidable factor that related to some international student’s acculturation and adjustment experiences. “Self-efficacy refers to a willingness to initiate behavior in social situations (Sherner & Adams, 1983).” It is also a challenging problem that international students will experience more potential spoken communication difficulties and differences in cultural values than their American counterparts. For example, in U.S. assertiveness, independence, and self-reliance are viewed as three main values in society, conversely, in those international students’ countries that based on a communal or collectivistic cultures, connectedness and interpersonal relationships are their main society values. Thus, when an international student interact with an American student, they might be experience some difficulties, such as psychological or social distress that come from different cultural values.
Statement of Hypothesis
This special study will focus on whether orientation class in college has any effect on international student’s stress or not, so English fluency, attachment, depression, self-concealment, and social self-efficacy will be used as a measurable tool for measuring a sample of international student’s acculturation stress who come from three geographic regions after taking orientation class. The goal of orientation class is to reduce international students’ acculturative stress, attachment, depression, and self-concealment, and enhance their self-efficacy.
Two group of international student who enrolled in two public universities, Oregon University and Western Oregon University. The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research university located in the beautiful Willamette valley of Oregon. It has 20,394 students and five percent of them are international students, the number of which is about 1,024.7. Western Oregon University is a public-serving institution and is home to nationally-renowned Teaching Research Institute located in Monmouth-Independence area. It has 4,900 students and currently has approximately 120 international students enrolled. Among those international students, 60 international students are chosen randomly for doing this investigation. Of 60 participants, 34 (56%) students were from Oregon of University and 26 (44%) were from Western Oregon University. The sample included 33 (55%) women and 27 (45%) men. The participants’ mean age was 21.05(SD=4.59, range=18-23 years). With regard to home country, 36 (60%) identified themselves as coming from mainland China, 9 (15%) from Taiwan, 8 (13.4%) from Africa, 4 (6.6%) from Japan, and 3(5%) from Germany. The sample include 56 (93.3%) undergraduate students and 4 (6.7%) graduate.
The Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students (ASSIS) (Sandhu and Asrabadi, 1994) was developed in order to assess the adjustment problems of international students. I t is a 36-item scale using a 7-point Likert scale (1=Strongly disagree to 7=Strongly aggress). The ASSIS consists of the following subscales: Perceived discrimination (eight items), Homesickness (four items), Perceived hate (five items), Fear (four items), Stress due to change (three items), Guilt (two items), and Miscellaneous (10 items). The total score was used for data analysis.
The SCS is a 10 item, 5 point (1= Strongly disagree, 5= Strongly agree), Likert-type measure that assesses individual’s tendency to conceal personal information that is negative or distressing. According to Larson and Chastain (1990), self-concealment is related to, but is conceptually and empirically distinct from, self-disclosure. Total scale scores range from 10 to 50, with higher scores indicating greater self-concealment.
The SSES is a six-item, 5-point (1=Strongly disagree, 5=Strongly agree), Likert-type subscale that measures individuals’ willingness to initiate and persist in behavior in social situations. Total scores for the SSES range from 6-30, with higher scores suggesting greater levels of social self-efficacy.
The CES-D is a 20-item, 4-point (0=Disagree, 1=Partly disagree, 2=Partly agree, 3=agree), Likert-type instrument that serves as a preliminary screening of depression. The CES-D is one of the most widely used depression inventories, and it consists of items taken from previously developed depression scales (Radloff & Locke, 1986). The total score for the CES-D is the sum of the numerical values for each of the items endorsed. The range of scores is 0 to 60, with higher scores indicating more frequently reported depressive symptoms. Scores of 16 or higher on the CES-D are considered “cases” of depression.
In this study, it uses the Posttest- Only Control Group Design. It requires two groups of students, each of which is formed by random assignment, exposed to the different treatments, and posttested. In this study, treatment is orientation class, one group will be taking orientation class for one term, and another group will not be taking orientation class. Both groups are post-tested at the end of the study, may be at the end of one term. Post-test scores are then compared to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, to identify the effectiveness of the orientation class.
The study participants were recruited from two university campuses, and all of them are admitted freshmen. After explaining the purpose of the study and inviting them to participate in the study by completing the surveys. At OU, of 200 international student volunteers who agreed to participate in the study, 34 students were randomly selected. And at WOU, of 60 international student volunteers who agreed to participate in the study, 26 were randomly selected. The study was described to participants as “a survey study investigating international student’s stress”.
Before a new term starts, organized these thirty international students together, and randomly divided them into two groups, each of which is 30 students. One of these two groups will be taking an orientation class for one term, and every one of them should take the class once a week and no one can be absented with any reason. Another group will not be taking an orientation class for one term, but they can take any other classes.
Next during about three months, the international students who were taken the orientation class will be acculturated by listening to several lectures from a teacher of international office. The content of the lecture included learn about valuable campus resources and receive their student ID cards, such as Visa, Job on campus, writing center, how to use library, American Law, and how to apply for financial aid in school. Each class focusing on different content and the international students will be giving one lecture for a week. In addition, they will be guiding to and showing how to use the computer in the library to find out the book they expect to borrow or to read, how to print out materials, how to go to writing center for tutoring by a teacher, how to register online and how to go to the website for booking a study room in library and so on. Another group of students who were not taken the orientation class would study without any treatment.
After one term was completed, 30 international students with orientation class and 30 international students without orientation class are provided separately the same several questionnaires to complete 4 questionnaires in 60 minutes.
Finally, collected the questionnaires and analyze the information that they were offered. Of the 60 students, 240 questionnaires were completed and turned in. According to the score, they are classified in two groups, one with higher scores, and another one with lower scores.
The stress score from two groups were collected and compared to identify the effect of orientation class on the stress of international students in college. The mean score of the international students with orientation class is 95.8667, and the mean score of the international students without orientation class is 74.2333. Thus, the effect of orientation class in college on the stress of international student has been identified.
Inferential statistics (null hypothesis)
In this study, the null hypothesis is there is no significant difference between the mean of stress score of the international students who were taken the orientation class and the mean of stress score of the international students who weren’t taken the orientation class. The t = 10.478 with p<.000 of this test, and df = 58. The value of the t is much higher, so the null hypothesis was rejected. The reason is that there are difference existing between the international students who were taken the orientation class and the international students who weren’t taken the orientation class.
Through analyzing and cooperation, the original hypothesis was identified and supported by the research result. International students who take orientation class will experience less stress than those who do not take. The test score of the students who took the orientation class after one term is much higher than those who didn’t take.
The result of this study will be used in college as a good example for opening orientation class in college.
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