Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-8-2020


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Rick McCown

Committee Member

Lisa López Levers

Committee Member

Deborah Scigliano

Committee Member

Connie M. Moss


International students, Student Engagement, Cross-cultural Interactions, Diversity, Resources, Obtacles


While international students greatly influence globalization with their diverse cultural backgrounds, they often encounter issues when adapting to a new academic, social, and cultural setting. The goal of this research question was twofold in nature in that it sought to not only explore the adjustment experiences of participants but also be able to see what resources and practices were found helpful and needed to be expanded upon in order to provide ways of redressing inequitable practices and contributing to pedagogical change to promote engagement and success of international undergraduate students. A thorough analysis of in-depth interviews considered both upstream and downstream elements of the new lives of six international undergraduate students from various regions of the world attending a mid-sized private university in Western Pennsylvania. The study found that participants had challenges in communicating the English language, academic and sociocultural issues, and career development. Furthermore, multiple factors such as a better educational experience, higher levels of engagement in cross-cultural interactions, and more career options played an important role for study abroad decision making. Lastly, they favored certain on-campus resources including diverse staff members that communicate cross-culturally during programs offered throughout the year and professional guidance regarding academic and student affairs. The study recommended that there is likely significant benefits in further studying the way social life gets done by international undergraduate students as the authorities on the experience and examining the strategies undertaken by them to process their learning and academic success. This could also allow a powerful reflection back to educators and administrators and helps them to understand what actually works and what does not work.