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From Expectations to Reality: Examining International Students' Perception of Support Services at The University of Pittsburgh

Digbohou, Tchetchet (2019) From Expectations to Reality: Examining International Students' Perception of Support Services at The University of Pittsburgh. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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American colleges and universities have developed various programs and services meant to attract and support international students from around the world. The success of those programs and services is usually assessed from an institutional perspective mostly through quantitative or occasionally qualitative methods. Only a handful of qualitative studies have looked into how international students themselves view the academic and nonacademic services set up for them by host institutions. The purpose of this study was to explore how international students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education (SOE) perceive the academic and nonacademic support services they receive and to contrast that perception with the students' prior expectations. The theoretical framework was a qualitative phenomenological approach. It was used to describe and understand students' experiences of support services. The instrument and protocol used to gather data from ten SOE international students are semi-structured interviews. The ten interviewees were selected among ten leading countries of origin for international students at SOE. The sample population was the international student population at Pitt School of Education. The sampling method was a non-probabilistic purposeful criterion sampling. The method of analysis was a document analysis using Giorgi’s inductive four-step phenomenological analysis coupled with a thematic content analysis. The analysis of the data showed that most respondents had clear expectations of receiving comprehensive, in-depth quality instructional content, hands-on academic guidance, and theory as well as practice in research methodologies. It also revealed very mixed levels of perception of service quality. Perception of service quality varied depending on the type of support services received and on the personal experiences of each individual student. The analysis of the data incidentally revealed a misperception of the dual role played by the Office of International Service (OIS) and showed how mandated and non-mandated support services are perceived by international students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. The analysis of the data finally revealed that most respondents were overall satisfied with the academic and nonacademic support services received from the university of Pittsburgh and from the School of Education.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Digbohou, Tchetchettgd10@pitt.edutgd100000-0001-6927-6601
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcClure, Maureenmmcclure@pitt.edummcclure
Committee MemberTananis, Cynthiatananis@pitt.edutananis
Committee MemberCorrenti, Richardrcorrent@pitt.edurcorrent
Date: 16 December 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 October 2019
Approval Date: 16 December 2019
Submission Date: 13 December 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 105
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: HedPerf Support Services Qualitative research International Student Student’s Perception Office of International Services
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 14:45
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2019 14:45


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