Experiences of International Students in Developmental Education at a Texas Community College



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Literature on international students discusses the creation of programs to assist with adjustment to U.S. education, explores negative experiences on campus and in the surrounding community, and discusses in-classroom experiences for ethnic groups within the international student population. Within the literature, developmental education articles discuss language acquisition and proficiency concerns at the university level. The developmental education literature does not discuss international student experiences in an English Second language (ESL) program through the student perspective at the community college level. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of international students in an English Second Language program at a Texas community college. This study utilized Schlossberg’s Transition Model as a guide to explore factors that positively influence or hinder students’ transition through developmental education. Research questions examined the lived experiences of international students. Purposeful sampling was used to identify eight international students on F-1 student visas. Data collection consisted of anonymous interviews. Moustakas (1994) transcendental phenomenological methods for qualitative inquiry were used to analyze data: bracketing, identifying themes, textural descriptions, structural descriptions, and synthesis of themes. Tentative codes were applied for the interview data to find commonalities in the participants’ words. The codes were refined and collected into themes. The study revealed themes of (a) prior learning experiences, (b) reasons for learning English in the U.S., (c) social interactions, and (d) progress with learning English. The findings from this study revealed positive and negative factors influenced international student experiences, affecting their satisfaction with their progression in English language learning. It was recommended community colleges employ cost-effective strategies to assist international students with transitioning to post ESL objectives. Suggestions for future research were discussed.



Education; Community College