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Academic concerns

According to Maureen Snow Andrade in her article, “International students in English-speaking universities: Adjustment factors,” Journal of Research in International Education 2006; 5; 131, the one factor that professors most often site as the main difficulty for international students is English language proficiency “which sometimes required professors’ assistance and negatively affected performance.”  In fact, research has shown that often “language problems” are often simply cultural world view differences.  Although some international students certainly have English language deficiencies, an international student who does not understand the context of the substantive material, or is completely unfamiliar with the teaching style and classroom expectations,  may also have trouble processing the information, making it appear that s/he has a misunderstanding of the language itself.  Academic departments and individual professors are encouraged to have private conversations with international students who appear to be struggling and to notify ISSS if there are students who seem to need additional guidance. 


Plagiarism is often seen as a significant problem with some international students.  In some cultures, it is considered a sign of respect to directly quote the experts in a given field of study.  In other cultures, it is quite common to share materials and work together on academic assignments, supporting the cultural norm of collaborative work.  Professors are encouraged to be very direct about the expectations in their classrooms, giving clear guidance on behaviors that are either forbidden or accepted in that course.  International students are provided information about typical American classroom expectations during orientation and during other sessions throughout their education, but ISSS should be notified if departments feel that additional education is needed with any particular student. 


ISSS monitors international student GPA’s and attempts to provide needed services and referrals for students who are struggling.  However, it would be more helpful if we receive information prior to the end of the semester.  Therefore, a professor that sees his/her international student struggling in a course is encouraged to contact ISSS as soon as possible.