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National cultural identity of international students: The influence of a sojourn at an American institution of higher education

Larry L Zimmerman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Most international students arrive on American campuses with national cultural identities, based on deep-seated patterns of value preferences generally shared among the people of their respective national groups. This study investigated whether a sojourn as an international student at an institution of higher education in the United States influenced national cultural identity, as established by such culture-level value orientations. ^ A mixed methods design was followed using the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS) for the primary, quantitative analysis of data from 331 participants representing 13 nationalities. They were drawn from new and about-to-be-graduated students and categorized into five regional groups: USA, Confucian Asia, West Europe, South Asia, and Japan. ^ The second stage analyzed qualitative data from student responses to an open-ended item on the questionnaire and comments collected during a focus group session with 11 participants. Native-born students from the United States served as a comparison group only for the SVS analysis. ^ The quantitative analysis produced seven culture-level value orientation means for each sample. No statistically significant differences in the means emerged between new and about-to-be-graduated American students, but four of the 28 pairs of means compared among the various samples of international students were significantly different (.05 level). ^ Those results were interpreted to mean that international students pursuing degrees at institutions of higher education in the United States were not likely to change their national cultural identity. Instead, most were returning to their homelands with a stronger sense of national cultural identity. The value orientations of international students in this study were not consistent with those reported by Schwartz (n.d.). ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Anthropology, Cultural|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Zimmerman, Larry L, "National cultural identity of international students: The influence of a sojourn at an American institution of higher education" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3321126.