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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Theresa Austin

Second Advisor

Jerri Willett

Third Advisor

Amanda Walker Johnson

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education

Abstract

ABSTRACT

MEDIATIONS OF MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN A PRIVATE UNIVERSITY: INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCES IN THE UNITED STATES

SEPTEMBER 2015

BEATA DOLINA, B.A., UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW

M.A., HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

Ed. D., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

Directed by: Professor Theresa Austin

Admitting ever-increasing numbers of international undergraduates, universities are beginning to grapple with the difficulties students experience in adapting to this new, for them, educational context. According to Glass (2012), “Given the growth of international student enrollment, there are compelling reasons to more closely examine the extent to which specific educational experiences may be associated with their learning, development, and perception of campus climate” (p. 229). To address this issue, I investigated the mediations of multiple identities experienced by international students in the educational setting of a university in the United States and the way in which these particular mediations influenced their social adaptation into a new cultural and educational environment. While current sociocultural research suggests that understanding the relationship among identity mediations, language learning, and social adaptation is important to consider when addressing these issues, little attention is evident concerning the way in which international undergraduates learn and adapt to their new educational environments. In order to address this gap in the literature, I investigated the mediation of multiple identities of international undergraduate students during their initial adaptation to this new educational and social context. Three core questions guided the research: 1) How do international students represent themselves in their narratives describing themselves prior to and after arriving at college in the US; 2) In what ways do these narratives demonstrate the participants’ changing social positions in learning English; and 3) How does the international experience of coming to the U.S. mediate the college identities as learners of English. Through ongoing interaction with three first-year undergraduates over two semesters, I collected personal narratives about their experiences at the university. While the interview protocol ensured discussion about both their past and current learning experiences, the direction of the conversations included reflections on their interactions in various contexts with the other students and individuals. In addition, I strongly supported the particular stance that international students should have aid during their first attempts to adjust to their new educational context in college. This issue runs throughout the study from the perspective of theories and narrative interviews to data collection and analysis.

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