The Unspoken Truth: How Different are We? A Comparative Analysis on International Student Identity and Student Work Values. Open Access

Wu, Zhe (2016)

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The overwhelming influx of international students into the United States has attracted great attention in the past few decades. Yet existing studies mainly focused on the macro level of cross cultural relationships and international connections. Few scholars examined the micro level of interactions between international and domestic students. Even fewer examined value differences. My research intended to study the variance in work values created by students' identity. In other words, I examined whether being an international student influences one's values towards work and career preference. I utilized Schwartz's theory on work values and divided them into four aspects: intrinsic, extrinsic, social and power. Schwartz's theory is widely referenced and is closely connected with his basic human values. Having conducted two surveys and four supplementary interviews, my research data refuted the popular notion that international students' value different dramatically from those of domestic students'. Both demographic groups rated intrinsic and power values similarly, and showed variance on extrinsic and social values. With the help of my interview field notes and other scholarly journals, I was able to offer several plausible factors for these results. Among them the admission process was crucial for that it gathered students from similar backgrounds and with similar values together. Meanwhile, cultural factor still plays its role in demographical differences, but data has proved that the difference is not as dramatic as we expected. This research is limited to the context of Emory University, and further study with more longitudinal data will certainly strengthen my theories. The value of my research lies in that it offers the educational institution with a new perspective: international students' values are similar to domestic students' on certain dimensions. This counterintuitive finding provides a new direction for campus policy and fosters a new understanding on diversity.

Table of Contents

1. Overview

1.1 International Student Population in the Globalization

2. Literature Review

2.1 International Student as a Rising Demographic

2.2 Historic Development of Work Values

2.3 Student Identity and Value Difference

3. Research Question and Hypotheses

4. 2013-2014 Domestic Student Survey

4.1 Research Method, Operationalization and Implementation

4.2 Results

5. 2014-2015 International Student Survey

5.1 Research Method, Operationalization and Implementation

5.2 Results

6. Supplementary Interview

7. Comparative Results and Finding Highlights

7.1 Data Representativeness

7.2 Comparative Analysis

7.3 Findings

8. Discussion

8.1 Similarity across Intrinsic and Power values

8.1.1 Admission factor

8.1.2 Socio-Economic factor

8.1.3 Life experience factor

8.2 Differences across Extrinsic and Social Values

8.2.1 Culture factor

9. Conclusion and Outlook


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