How International Students’ Acculturation Motivation Develops over Time in an International Learning Environment

A Longitudinal Study


  • Adedapo Tunmise Aladegbaiye University of Twente
  • Menno D.T. de Jong University of Twente
  • Ardion D. Beldad University of Twente



acculturation, motivation, international students, international learning environment, university, higher education


This research investigates how the acculturation motivation (AM) of new international students develops over time, and which factors play a role in this development. In the context of a Dutch university, we interviewed 25 students from 17 countries three times over eight months. The findings show that initial AM levels can be categorized as high or low. These AM levels evolved into four patterns in the three interview rounds: high-low-low, high-low-high, low-highlow, and low-high-high. After four months, twelve factors emerged as affecting the development of students’ AM levels. Prominent factors were prior international experience, language issues, and perceived student identities. After eight months, seven additional factors contributed to subsequent changes in students’ AM levels, including the perceived international learning environment, friendship networks, and teachers’ role in intercultural contacts. Findings suggest that universities can introduce interventions which could improve international students’ acculturation experiences at specific times.

Author Biographies

Adedapo Tunmise Aladegbaiye, University of Twente

Adedapo T. Aladegbaiye, MSc, is a PhD candidate in the department of Communication Science at the University of Twente. His research explores the acculturation experiences of international students with particular focus on the international learning environment as a distinct part of the new society. He investigates this phenomenon from the lenses of international students’ expectation-experience, social and academic inclusion, and  integration and internationalization policies of universities. Email:

Menno D.T. de Jong, University of Twente

Menno D.T. de Jong is a full professor of technical and organizational communication at the department of Communication Science, University of Twente. His research focuses on the role communication plays in societal and organizational challenges.

Ardion D. Beldad, University of Twente

Dr. Ardion Beldad currently works as an assistant professor at the Communication Science Department, University of Twente. He teaches a pre-master course on academic writing and a master course on trust and risk, while also supervising bachelor master, and PhD research projects.



How to Cite

Aladegbaiye, A. T., de Jong, M. D., & Beldad, A. D. (2021). How International Students’ Acculturation Motivation Develops over Time in an International Learning Environment: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of International Students, 12(2).



Research Articles (English)