Project #1: Seeking Best Practices for Integrating International and Domestic Students

Research conducted by Nancy Young, commissioned by ISSS, 2014
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Integration of international and domestic students has long been recognized in International Education as a critical part of all students’ intercultural and academic experience. This study explores innovative integration practices at other U.S. higher education institutions.

Aspirational and Multidimensional Definition of Integration:

Integration is an intentional process to create community, by encouraging domestic and international students to engage with each other in ongoing interaction, characterized by mutual respect, responsibility, action, and commitment.

Successful integration in the higher education context is characterized by the following:

  • Active facilitation, support, and modeling by faculty, staff, and administration in the curricular and co-curricular contexts;
  • An academic climate that recognizes and reflects the goals and values of inclusion;
  • Assessment, evaluation, and mindful reflection of intercultural and global competence at all levels of the institution (individual, classroom, school, institution-wide);
  • Movement from “contact with” and “celebration of” cultures to deeper layers of engagement and enrichment, leading to the creation of common ground;
  • Commitment to and recognition of the mutual benefits of such engagement; and
  • A sense of belonging, contributing, and being valued.

Key Findings:

4 Critical Characteristics of Successful Program

  1. Partnerships – Working with faculty, other offices, or student groups
  2. Active Leader/Learner Student Role – Students are actively involved as leaders and learners
  3. Community – Building community is an important goal
  4. Committed Intentionality – Programs created with passion, belief, and commitment to a broader goal of Integration.

5 Categories of Best Practices

  1. Institutional Infrastructure – Courses, campus dialogues, international student advisory board
  2. Preparatory – Pre-arrival or early involvement
  3. Faculty Facilitated – Global competency badges, ethics discussions, film discussions
  4. Facilitated Friendship – Mentors, friendship program
  5. Leadership Development – Increase leadership skills and involvement

Benefits to Students

Leadership development, improved quality of life, facilitated relationships, safe place for discussion, increased cultural competency, self-discovery, new intellectual interests, and official recognition (bolsters resume).

What Findings Suggest For Our Campus:

  • Examine the results to find ways to improve our own integration efforts and try new ideas
  • Convene a think tank including other U.S. institutions to continue the discussion

Other Information:

  • Integration increases international student class participation, thus enriching everyone’s academic experience.1
  • Integration is a process not an event. It is accomplished in persistent, manageable steps.2
  • Integration is not just the responsibility of international students. It is the University’s responsibility.
  • There is an ongoing national conversation about integration.

1 Gareis, E. (2012). “At a gathering of senior educators, the integration of international students was a theme.” Inside Higher Ed.

2 Simon, L. (2012). “A presidential perspective on global engagement,” International Briefs for Higher Education Leaders, no. 2. Engagement.pdf