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International female students' academic success: A phenomenological study

Rachida Faid-Douglas, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The literature on international students is abundant with studies on the difficulties encountered while studying in American universities and colleges. Few studies focused on strategies to assist international students in overcoming barriers in order to succeed. ^ The purpose of this study was to describe the essence of academic success of international female students. A phenomenological methodology was utilized to describe the essence of the lived academic experiences. The gathered data focused on the concept of academic success: how the informants described the meaning of their success in higher education, the strategies they used to overcome barriers. Other foci were on the beliefs or cultural values, and personal characteristics that influenced the international women's actions and choices to achieve success. ^ This study gives a voice to international female students and records their histories, struggles, and achievements. This study on international women adds to the feminist research studies. It also advances the understanding of international women's needs and possibilities for further support. The themes examined were related to the struggles international women experienced in the following areas: culture shock, language proficiency, stress, time management, teaching philosophy, family responsibility, relationships with professors, American peers, money, and discrimination. The other major theme was related to how international women used problem-solving strategies to succeed. First, international female students were able to build a support system. Second, they relied on religion, or personal therapy to find strength and alleviate stress. Third, they learned academic, cultural skills to overcome difficulties. The third major theme was centered on the personal characteristics that international women possessed to succeed including: motivation, self-efficacy, openness, risk-taking, hardwork, persistence. These themes composed the meaning and the essence of the international women's success. Further research studies are needed to examine programs that enhance the success of international women to help other international women, and to train them to perceive different aspects of a particular problem that could be instrumental in resolving their struggles and succeeding academically. ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Faid-Douglas, Rachida, "International female students' academic success: A phenomenological study" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9991986.