Evaluating Internationalization Efforts in Select Award-winning Institutions of Higher Education: Where are the International Graduate Students?
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This study investigated the ways that the Senator Paul Simon Award-winning institutions of higher education (IHEs) and the Chief International Education Administrators (CIEAs) from a subset of these award-winning institutions value the presence of international graduate students on their campuses, and the ways those values are indicated in the processes and assessment of internationalization efforts and the inclusion of international graduate students in the campus community life and beyond. Four research questions guided the study: (1) In what ways do the Senator Paul Simon award-winning IHEs value the presence of international graduate students on their campuses? (2) What strategies are used by the award –winning IHEs to evaluate internationalization efforts? And the sub-question, (a) How do these award-winning IHEs evaluate their internationalization efforts specifically in regards to international graduate students? (3) What do the Chief International Education Administrators from a subset of award-winning IHEs value in regards to internationalization processes in their institutions? (4) What do the Chief International Education Administrators from a subset of award-winning IHEs value in regards to international graduate students’ enrollment on their campuses? And two sub-questions, (a) How are those values indicated in the processes and assessment of internationalization efforts? (b) How are those values indicated in the inclusion of international graduate students into the campus community life and beyond?
In this study I argue that institutions of higher education have to function as communities of learning and learners meaning that they have to deliberately develop a true sense of a community that will promote and maximize learning (Lenning & Ebbers, 1999) for all community members (students, faculty and staff). I also contend that learning takes place in a participation framework which is mediated by the differences of perspectives among the participants and is distributed among participants (Lave & Wenger, 1991), and it occurs in a variety of settings (Astin, 1993). This research study was based on the interpretivist paradigm recognizing that IHEs vary greatly in the organizational structures of their international education departments, in the ways in which they hold various programmatic components of internationalization processes, and in the variety of strategies they utilize to measure and assess their internationalization efforts. The multiple realties of IHEs, such as organizational structure, processes, and leadership also influence their unique organizational culture. Correspondently, this study was framed by Schein’s (2010) organizational culture and leadership theory to understand the internationalization efforts being undertaken in selected IHEs. More specifically, the organizational cultures of IHEs were analyzed based on three levels of Schein’s analysis: artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and basic underlying assumptions.
The research employed qualitative two-stage design. The first-stage design included a descriptive and informational questionnaire. Thirty-five of the Senator Paul Simon Award-winning institutions which offer graduate programs, including master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees were selected to participate in the study. Out of 35, 10 CIEAs completed the questionnaire. The questionnaire answered the first two research questions. The second-stage of the design included individual and cross-case study approach. Three sources of data – the completed questionnaires and subsequent interviews with a subset of questionnaire responders, and document analysis – were used in this stage. Out of the 10 CIEAs who completed questionnaires, four CIEAs expressed their willingness to participate in a subsequent interview. In order to investigate the key priorities used by the four IHE case studies, I also reviewed key documents from these outstanding institutions. I looked at the mission, goals, objectives listed in the strategic plans, evaluation reports of strategic initiatives of these institutions, message statements given by the presidents/chancellor and the specific programming designed to include international students into the campus community life. Case studies answered the third and fourth research questions.
Overall conclusion made from this study is that there is a discrepancy between the espoused values and beliefs of the institutions and the shared underlying assumptions across participating award-winning IHEs in regards to international graduate students. Most participating IHEs, despite their espoused beliefs that they value international graduate students, take for granted this value and are not actively engaged in finding out the ways in which international graduate students have impact (or not) in the internationalization efforts in their institutions. The findings of the study yield recommendations for policy and practice and further exploration of this topic.