Socialization experiences of STEM international graduate students at American public research universities: a multivariate analysis
Johnson, Catherine Mary
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STEM international graduate students encounter unique challenges at American public research universities. One of these challenges relates to the cultural isolation international graduate students face as they traverse American higher education (Lee & Rice, 2007). Factors found influential to international students' persistence include the faculty advisor and advisee relationship (Rice et al., 2009), peer interactions (Rose- Redwood & Rose-Redwood, 2013), and identity formation (Gomes & Tran, 2017; Phelps, 2016). As a multiple regression study, the research questions were designed to determine the extent international graduate students' faculty mentor and peer relationships, cultural congruity, and identity prominence influence intercultural relevancy as parts of the socialization process (Kuh & Love, 2001; Museus & Quaye, 2009). Over a thousand international graduate students from 12 research universities participated in the Graduate Student Experiences survey; an NSF funded Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate project. The final analytical sample (n = 953) was analyzed using ordinary least squares regression. The first set of results indicated that mentor's cultural support, peer interactions, social and professional identity prominence had significant positive effects on international graduate students' cultural integrity in STEM. The second set of models indicated that mentors' cultural support, peer interactions, cultural congruity, social and professional identity prominence were positively associated with levels of international graduate students' connections with cultural representatives. These findings suggest faculty mentor's cultural support, peer interactions, social and professional identity are important for developing intercultural relevancy within international graduate students at American public research universities. More importantly, students' perceptions of intercultural relevancy differ across groups. This study contributes to the research on graduate education in several ways. First this study provides a quantitative look at international graduates' experiences in the U.S. The contribution of this study is the use of data from a nationally administered graduate student experiences survey at 12 institutions that included newly developed measures of intercultural relevancy in STEM, identity prominence, and mentor interaction. Measures of intercultural effort provide another way to interpret graduate student socialization. The empirical findings add to the growing body of literature on graduate education, international students.