An exploratory investigation of intercultural encounters experienced by university based international students in an Australian university Thesis Robyn Donovan.pdf (7.43 MB)

An exploratory investigation of intercultural encounters experienced by university based international students in an Australian university

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posted on 2023-11-01, 05:36 authored by Robyn DonovanRobyn Donovan
A grounded theory study of intercultural encounters experienced by international students was carried out to contribute to an understanding of these events. Intercultural encounters are events which students perceive as having different cultural norms and practices. While there is considerable research regarding students’ experiences of overseas study, there have been relatively limited studies concerning student intercultural encounter experiences in an Australian context. This research used interviews to explore how international students at an Australian university prepared for study and investigates their experiences of intercultural encounters in the early months of their student lives. The intercultural encounters were explored in community, cultural, academic, service and social contexts. Analysis of the interview data identified three antecedents concerning the preparation for study: • Settling in arrangements - assistance with accommodation and living arrangements; • Student expectations -students’ expectations regarding overseas study; and • Proficiency in English - the ability to communicate in English. Three circumstantial intercultural encounter themes emerged from data analysis, namely: • Adjusting to diversity - international students experience a diversity of intercultural encounters in community, cultural, academic, service and social contexts; • Australia has wide ranging rules and regulations - Australia’s rules and regulations affected intercultural encounters in different contexts; and • Australia provides for quality of life - international students prefer to study in a country which provides quality of life benefits. Student reactions and outcomes arising from intercultural encounters were examined. The reactions can be immediate or considered and the outcomes can be described as affective, behavioural or cognitive outcomes. Furthermore the outcomes can contribute to an increased awareness of the new culture. This increased awareness may contribute to the development of intercultural competence which is the capacity to interact in intercultural situations. A model for the student intercultural encounter experience was developed that situates the results of this research within an experiential learning framework. The findings from this research can be used as a platform concerning further research into intercultural encounters. Recommendations enabling the application of the findings are provided for universities, government agencies and policy makers involved in international education.



Central Queensland University

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Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor John Dekkers ; Professor Lena Robinson

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • Traditional