Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



French-Sloan, H. (2015). Examining Cross-Cultural Communication Among First-Year Students at a Large, Four-Year, Research University (MA thesis, University of Nebraska).


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Elizabeth Niehaus. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Haley Mae French-Sloan


This qualitative case study examines and explores cross-cultural communication among first-year international and domestic students at Great Plains University, a large, four-year, research university located in the Midwestern United States. Specifically, this case study examines the ways in which first-year international and domestic students make decisions about whether and how to interact with one another across culture in the classroom. The literature review discusses both international and domestic students’ experiences and perceptions regarding intercultural communication, and also introduces a variety of barriers and facilitators of cross-cultural communication. Through introducing and relating cross-cultural communication to the goals of international education, the author asserts that cross-cultural communication is lacking on United States college campuses, and thus the goals of international education are not being fully realized. Therefore, the author seeks to understand how first-year international and domestic students make decisions regarding how to interact across culture in order for United States higher education to better facilitate cross-cultural communication throughout a student’s collegiate experience.

Through classroom observations and one-on-one in-depth interviews with participants, main themes emerged that help to describe how first-year international and domestic students make decisions regarding how to interact with one another across culture. Findings indicated that both international and domestic students were primarily concerned with assessing the ease or convenience of engaging in cross-cultural communication, and used a variety of factors to make this assessment prior to deciding to initiate intercultural interactions. This research provides a model for Great Plains University to increase and enhance cross-cultural communication in the classroom and throughout the campus, offering recommendations for future research and best practices in higher education student affairs and international education.

Advisor: Elizabeth Niehaus