Methodological Approaches to the Study of International Students
Although international students exhibit a variety of backgrounds in terms of nationalities, native languages, education histories, and other characteristics, the diversity within this group is often overlooked in higher education research and its data management. The U.S. National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) racial category exemplifies the tendency to view international students as a homogeneous group because these students are categorized as a single racial category (nonresident alien); a racial category used in addition to American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander, and White. In a two-part essay, we want to share examples of theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches that acknowledge and address international students’ heterogeneity. In this first essay, we introduce quantitative and qualitative critical methodologies and offer several suggestions for the future direction of research about international students, focusing especially on the diversity within this student group.
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