[wwpoenglish] Stress and Acculturation in Education

  • From: Bruce Cook <cookcomm@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "wwpoenglish@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <wwpoenglish@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2014 08:19:36 -0600

Dear WWPO Members,

Thanks again for reading my abstract on communication and peacebuilding.

Here's an informal paper I'm presenting to a faculty in an international
school in Chicago this Thursday. (It will be followed by a presentation on
solutions.) Any comments are certainly welcome!



*Stress and Acculturation: *

*Problems in Teaching International Students*

*Bruce L. Cook, Ph.D.*

*Chicago ORT Technical Institute *

*Author Note*

*Bruce L. Cook, Vice President/founder World Peace Organization (WWPO.org)*

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to *

*Bruce L. Cook, Cook Communication Inc., 1407 Getzelman Drive, Elgin, IL

*Contact: cookcomm@xxxxxxxxx <cookcomm@xxxxxxxxx>*


Research in education has established that international students face a
higher than normal level of stress in the higher education classroom. For
this reason, it is suggested that international students may be at a
disadvantage in performance as compared with other students. This review
spotlights several studies for the purpose of identifying typical problem
areas for the purpose of discussion. Research studies are described with
focus on the general student population, international education, and
vocational education (for medical and nursing fields).

Keywords: higher education, acculturation, stress, international

Stress and Acculturation:
Problems in Teaching International Students

How can higher education instruction more effectively communicate with
international students? Several research studies have examined problems
that can inhibit teaching effectiveness. At the same time, the problem of
stress is not confined to international students.

As far back as 1960, based upon experience in a junior college, Burton R.
Clark (1960) was reporting a “cooling-out” factor in higher education.
Speaking in broad terms, he generalized that democratic society was
“experiencing inconsistency between encouragement to achieve and the
realities of limited opportunity.”

*General Student Population*

Leo Reisberg (2000) reported that, for a general student population of
261,217, increasing numbers of students, especially women, reported feeling
overwhelmed and under stress.

Working with undergraduate student experience of direct and re-entry
students, Michie, Glachan, and Bray (2001) employed a questionnaire design
to evaluate global self-esteem, academic self-concept and academic stress,
concluding that different experiences of students in higher education
cannot be simply explained by age stratification.

However, age was found to influence “mind wandering” in a recent study by
Zavagnin, Borella, and De Beni (2014). Mind wandering is an example of
student inattention during class. Using various measures, this problem
found less mind wandering for older adults.

The problem of “mind wandering” was described this way by Kopp, Bixler, and
D’Mello (2014):

The propensity to involuntarily disengage by zoning out or mind wandering
(MW) is a common phenomenon that has negative effects on learning.

In their study, a successful attempt was made to adapt instruction to
attributes of students by using supervised machine learning. While this
problem needs research in the context of teaching international students,
it has produced a useful handbook on mind wandering (Ngnoumen & Langer,

*International Education*

Dyal and Dyal (1981) developed a research model for the study of
acculturation processes, suggesting they need to consider several

·         Cultural

·         Ethnic

·         Interpersonal

·         Intrapersonal

Some examples were changes in mental health status, social networks,
cognitive style, social orientation and child rearing values consequent to
immigration. While this study was not experimental, it described several
approaches to the study of acculturative stress and coping:

·         Stressful life events

·         Chronic role strains

·         Cognitive appraisal (i.e., Lazarus's model of cognitive appraisal
and coping processes and their short-term outcomes within stressful

A Hong Kong study of 7,915 first-year tertiary students by Wong, Cheung,
Chan, and Tang (2006) assessed depression, anxiety and stress using a
42-item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. The research found:

·         Depression in 21% of respondents

·         Anxiety in 41%

·         Stress in 27%.

The study recommended the need for primary and secondary prevention

Bayram and Bilgel (2008) used a Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale
(DASS-42). The test instruments were completed anonymously in the
classrooms by 1,617 Turkish students. Analysis found:

·         Depression in 27.1%

·         Anxiety 47.1%

·         Stress levels of moderate severity or above in 27%) of respondents

Anxiety/stress scores were higher among female students, while students in
the first two years had higher depression, anxiety and stress scores than
the others. Lower depression was noted for students satisfied with their

Yeh and Inose (2003) compared students from Europe with students from
Asia.  European students were found to have less acculturative stress than
students from Africa, Asia, and Central/Latin America.  Several predictors
of acculturative stress in the latter group were observed:

·         English fluency

·         Social support satisfaction

·         Social connectedness

Concentrating on international students, Sandu and Asrabadi (1994)
stated:”The pursuit of learning beyond indigenous boundaries is quite old.”
This study developed a new 36-item Likert scale to assess the acculturative
stress of international students:

·         Perceived discrimination

·         Homesickness

·         Fear

·         Guilt

·         Perceived hatred

·         Stress due to cultural shock.

Redmond and Bunyi (1993) evaluated the relationship of intercultural
communication competence with stress (and the handling of stress) as
reported by international students. This study developed a multidimensional
model of intercultural communication competence, including:

·         Communication effectiveness

·         Adaptation

·         Social integration

·         Language competence

·         Knowledge of the host culture

·         Social decentering

*Vocational Education*

Other studies focused on specific educational settings.

*Medical Education *

In a review of literature on medical education, Shapiro Shapiro, and
 Schwartz (2000) found that stress management programs decreased depression
and anxiety while they tended to increase spirituality, empathy and coping
skills for medical students.

*Nursing Education *

Focusing on nursing education, Timmins and Kaliszer (2002) found financial
constraints and academic concerns the most stressful areas for students.
Further, many students reported that relationships with teachers and staff
on the ward could cause some degree of stress. Factor analysis revealed the
following factors:

·         Academic

·         Relationships (teaching staff)

·         Relationships (clinical)

·         Financial situation of Patients

·         Death of a Patient

*Conclusions and Future Study*

This brief review reveals a host of stress-related problems typically faced
by students from countries outside the USA. For this reason, international
students may be at a disadvantage in performance as compared with other
students. This review spotlights several studies for the purpose of
identifying typical problem areas for the purpose of discussion. Further
research, including the companion piece to this paper, will suggest methods
teachers can use in overcoming these problems.


Bayram, N., & Bilgel, N. (2008). The prevalence and socio-demographic
correlations of depression, anxiety and stress among a group of university
students. *Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology*, *43*(8),

Clark, B. R. (1960). The" cooling-out" function in higher education. *American
journal of Sociology*, 569-576.

Dyal, J. A., & Dyal, R. Y. (1981). Acculturation, stress and coping: Some
implications for research and education. *International Journal of
Intercultural Relations*, *5*(4), 301-328.

Kopp, K., Bixler, R., & D’Mello, S. (2014, January). Identifying Learning
Conditions that Minimize Mind Wandering by Modeling Individual Attributes.
In*Intelligent** Tutoring Systems* (pp. 94-103). Springer International

Michie, F., Glachan, M., & Bray, D. (2001). An evaluation of factors
influencing the academic self-concept, self-esteem and academic stress for
direct and re-entry students in higher education. *Educational psychology*,
*21*(4), 455-472.

Redmond, M. V., & Bunyi, J. M. (1993). The relationship of intercultural
communication competence with stress and the handling of stress as reported
by international students. *International Journal of Intercultural
Relations*, *17*(2), 235-254.

Reisberg, L. (2000). Student Stress Is Rising, Especially among
of Higher Education*, *46*(21).

Sandhu, D. S., & Asrabadi, B. R. (1994). Development of an acculturative
stress scale for international students: Preliminary findings1. *Psychological
reports*, *75*(1), 435-448.

Shapiro, S. L., Shapiro, D. E., & Schwartz, G. E. (2000). Stress management
in medical education: a review of the literature. *Academic Medicine*, *75*(7),

Timmins, F., & Kaliszer, M. (2002). Aspects of nurse education programmes
that frequently cause stress to nursing students–fact-finding sample
Education Today*, *22*(3), 203-211.

Wong, J. G., Cheung, E., Chan, K. K., Ma, K. K., & Tang, S. W. (2006).
survey of depression, anxiety and stress in first‐year tertiary education
students in Hong Kong. *Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry*,
*40*(9), 777-782.

Yeh, C. J., & Inose, M. (2003). International students' reported English
fluency, social support satisfaction, and social connectedness as
predictors of acculturative stress. *Counselling Psychology Quarterly*, *16*
(1), 15-28.

Zavagnin, M., Borella, E., & De Beni, R. (2014). When the mind wanders:
Age-related differences between young and older adults. *Acta psychologica*,
 *145*, 54-64.Ie, A., Ngnoumen, C. T., & Langer, E. J. (2014). *The Wiley
Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness*. Wiley.

 About the Author

Bruce L. Cook holds a Ph.D. in Communication from Temple University, an
M.A. in Speech Arts from San Diego State University, and a B.A. in
Broadcasting from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Bruce has founded a variety of websites for writers, including
Author-me.com, which he established in 1999. While these efforts continue,
he is presently active in various groups seeking world peace. He is Vice
President/Founder of Worldwide Peace Organization (WWPO.org, Argentina),
Executive Vice President for Publicity for the International Association of
Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), and an active member of the Advisory
Committee for the Institute of Global Harmony (IGH).

His first novel, *Harmony of Nations: 1943 – 2020*, was published in 2011
by JustFiction Edition, Germany.  It is available on
His second novel is still in development.

Bruce lives in Elgin, Illinois with his wife Mary, where they are active in
local school and church activities.

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