Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


David B. Ross

Committee Member

Gretchen Donndelinger


Academic Experience, Culture, English Language Learners, Higher Education, International Students, Social Experience, English as a second language, Higher Education


This applied dissertation was designed to explore and provide a better understanding of students of international background enrolled in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at a 4-year public American college in Southeast Florida. This study utilized a qualitative phenomenological design for data collection and analysis. The interview protocol was reviewed and verified by a panel of experts. The data collection took place in the fall of 2014; the researcher utilized an open-ended interview protocol with purposeful sampling of nine international students. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded. The participants checked the transcripts for accuracy of the recorded data. An analysis of the data revealed common themes of the international students’ educational experience in American institutions of higher education. The interviews of the participants allowed the researcher to better understand the international student’s lived experiences.

The qualitative research created an awareness of the social and academic experiences of international students at an American college. The researcher concluded that the types of experiences are varied among the participants from the three different world regions, yet there was a high consistency of the themes: learning and studying, perception of faculty, expedited learning, online learning, language and communication issues, and a lack of social interaction with native students. There are ramifications for educators for strategic instructional practice and school leadership to seek and enhance student engagement and intercultural competencies. It will become necessary to increase cultural competencies through diversity initiatives both within the curriculum and throughout institutions by better understanding students’ perceptions and including those from various backgrounds, cultures, genders, and religions. To conclude, recommendations for future research are provided.

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