The factors affecting the adjustment of a group of turkish dual diploma students in the usa: english proficiency and cultural differences


  • Ozgur Yildirim Anadolu University, Faculty of Education



dual diploma programs, international students, adjustment, English proficiency


The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the adjustment problems experienced by a group of Turkish dual diploma students studying in the USA. The participants of the study were 18 undergraduate Turkish students studying in the Environmental Engineering and Civil Engineering dual diploma programs offered by a state university in New York and a state university in Turkey. The data were collected by using 15 interview questions and were analyzed by using constant comparative method in which emerging categories were identified in the interview transcripts and themes were developed from those categories. Analysis of the data indicated six major categories of the factors affecting the adjustment problems: differences in educational systems of the two institutions; English proficiency; the unique design of the program; cultural differences between the two countries; tendency to form and stay in cliques of dual diploma students; and orientation.

Author Biography

Ozgur Yildirim, Anadolu University, Faculty of Education



Abe, J., Talbot, D. M., & Geelhoed, R. J. (1998). Effects of a peer program on international student adjustment. Journal of College Student Development, 39, 539-546.

Angelova, M., & Riazantseva, A. (1999). If you don't tell me, how can I know? A case study of four international students learning to write the U.S. way. Written Communication, 16, 491-525.

Babiker, J. E., Cox, J. L., & Miller, P. (1980). The measurement of cultural distance and its relationship to medical consultations, symptomatology, and examination performance of overseas students at Edinburgh University. Social Psychiatry, 15,109-116.

Casanave, C. (1995). Local interactions: Constructing contests for composing in a graduate sociology program. In D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic Writing in a Second

Charles, H., & Stewart, M. A. (1991). Academic Advising for International Students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development , 19 (4), 173-181.

Dao, T. K., Lee, D., & Chang, H. L. (2007). Acculturation level, perceived English fluency, perceived social support level, and depression among Taiwanese international students. College Student Journal, 41 (2), 287-295.

Diekhoff, G. M., LaBeff, E. E., Shinohara, K., & Yasukawa, R. (1999). College cheating in Japan and the United States. Research in Higher Education, 40, 343-353.

Dunn, J. W. (2006). Academic adjustment of Chinese graduate students in United States Institutions of higher education. Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, UMI No: 3230203.

Dunnett, S. C. (1985). Current communicative needs of foreign students in the college/university classroom. International Programs Quarterly, 1 (2), 22-26.

Dunphy, J. (1999). Teaching in the multicultural classroom. NAFSA: Association of International Educators Newsletter, 50 (3), 1-8.

Eland, A. J. (2001). Intersection of academics and culture: The academic experience of international graduate students. Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, UMI No: 3010549.

Furnham, A. (1997). The experience of being an overseas student. In D. McNamara & R. Harris (Eds.), Overseas Students in Higher Education: Issues in Teaching and Learning (pp. 13-29). New York: Routledge.

Galloway, F. J., & Jenkins, J. R. (2005). The adjustment problems faced by international students in the United States: A comparison of international students and administrative perceptions at two private, religiously affiliated universities. NASPA Journal, 42 (2), 175-187.

Glaser, B. G. (1992). Emergence vs. forcing: Basics of grounded theory analysis. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine.

Goyol, A. B. (2002). The adjustment problems of African students at Western Michigan University. Doctoral dissertation, Western Michigan University, UMI No: 3060706.

Hayes, R. L., & Lin, H. R. (1994). Coming to America: Developing social support systems for international students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 22, 7-16.

Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill.

Kim, S. (2005). Teaching International Students. Teaching Professor, 19 (4), 591-597.

Leong, F. T. L., & Sedlacek, W. E. (1989). Academic and career needs of international and United States college students. Journal of College Student Development, 30, 106-111.

Liberman, K. (1994). Asian student perspectives on American university instruction. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 18 (2), 173-192.

Littlemore, J. (2001). The use of metaphor in university lectures and the problems it causes for overseas students. Teaching in Higher Education, 6 (3), 333 - 349.

Liu, J. (2001). Asian students' classroom communication patterns in U.S. universities: An emic perspective. Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.

Lysgaard, S. (l955). Adjustment in a foreign society: Norwegian Fulbright grantees visiting the United States. International Social Science Bulletin, 7, 45-51.

Mallinckrodt, B., & Leong, F. T. L. (1992). International graduate students, stress, and social support. Journal of College Student Development, 33 (1), 71-78.

Maza Duerto, A. (2004). Effects of combined economic and linguistic backgrounds on the adjustment process of international undergraduate students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, UMI No: 3123740.

McCargar, D. F. (1993). Teacher and student role expectations: Cross-cultural differences and implications. The Modern Language Journal, 77, 192-207.

Mori, S. (2000). Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 137-144.

Olaniran, B. A. (1996). Social skills acquisition: A closer look at foreign students on college campuses and factors influencing their level of social difficulty in social situations. Communication Studies, 22, 72-88.

Parr, G., Bradley, L., & Bingi, R. (1992). Concerns and feelings of international students. Journal of College Students Development, 33, 20-25.

Poyrazli, S., & Grahame, K. M. (2007). Barriers to adjustment: Needs of international students within a semi-urban campus community. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34 (1), 28-45.

Poyrazli, S., & Kavanaugh, P. R. (2006). Marital status, ethnicity, academic achievement, and adjustment strains: The case of graduate international students. College Student Journal, 40 (4), 767-780.

Poyrazli, S., Arbona, C., Bullington, R., & Pisecco, S. (2001). Adjustment issues of Turkish college students studying in the United States. College Student Journal, 35 (1), 52-62.

Prior, P. (1995). Redefining the task: An ethnographic examination of writing and response in graduate seminars. In D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language (pp. 47 – 82). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Quintrell, N., & Westwood, M. (1994). The influence of a peer-pairing program on international students’ first year experience and use of student services. Higher Education Research and Development, 13, 49-57.

Ramsay, S., Jones, E., & Barker, M. (2007). Relationship between adjustment and support types: young and mature-aged local and international first year university students. Higher Education , 54 (2), 247-265.

Serverino, C. (2004). International students in a learning center: Self-perceptions of their EFL and ESL preparation for academic writing in the U.S. The Learning Assistance Review, 9 (2), 5-16.

Shabeeb, S. S. (1996). Saudi and Arabian Gulf students' adjustment problems in Eastern Washington. Doctoral dissertation, Gonzaga University, Washington, UMI No: 9707506.

Spack, J. (1997). The acquisition of academic literacy in a second language: A longitudinal case study. Written Communication, 14, 3-63.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded theory methodology: An overview. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 273-285). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Thomas, K., & Althen, G. (1989). Counseling foreign students. In P.B. Pedersen, J.G. Draguns, W. I. Lonner, & J.E. Trimble (Eds.), Counseling across cultures (pp. 205-241). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Walfish, D. (2001). Intimate program tries to break barriers between Chinese and American students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 47, 52-54.

Wan, T., Chapman, D. W., & Biggs, D. A. (1992). Academic stress of international students attending U.S. university. Research in Higher Education, 33 (5), 607-622.

Webb, H. K. (2006). Academic dishonesty and the international student: Are international students different from domestic students. Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, UMI No: 3232254.

Yeh, C. J., & Inose, M. (2003). International students' reported English fluency, social support satisfaction, and social connectedness as predictors of acculturative stress. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 16, 15-28.





(JELE) Journal Of English Language and Education