|International students at|
La Roche College near Pittsburgh.
© Thomas Buell, Jr.
"Examining the Educational Benefits of Interacting with International Students" appears in the June issue of the Journal of International Students. Authors Jiali Luo and David Jamieson-Drake, the assistant director and director of Duke's institutional research office, analyzed surveys of 5,676 alumni from the 1985, 1995 and 2000 graduating classes of four highly selective private research universities, administered roughly 5, 10 and 20 years after graduation.
U.S. students at these universities interacted more with international students than they did in the past, they found, with 79 percent of the 2000 graduates reporting "substantial" interactions compared with 67 percent among 1985 graduates. In part, this reflected the growing presence of international students on their and other campuses. According to another study cited in the report, the number of international students in the United States reached an all-time high of 764,495 in the 2011-12 academic year, rising 31 percent over the previous decade.
"Several studies have shown how international students benefit from their time on American campuses, and also how they contribute financially to the schools and the U.S. economy," Luo said. "However, our study is among the first to provide statistically significant data showing how they also enhance the intellectual and cultural environment for domestic students who interact with them, many of whom go on to graduate with a richer world view and set of life skills."
Luo and Jamieson-Drake say the data highlight the value to U.S. universities and students of welcoming international students and encouraging their interaction with the wider student body. "A larger number of international students on campus could provide more opportunities for domestic students to interact across cultures and challenge their existing belief and value systems," they write. "Institutional initiatives and structures that foster higher levels of international interaction and serious questioning of beliefs and values could ultimately influence students' intellectual growth and skill development not only substantially but also consistently."
Jamieson-Drake said he and Luo are now "extending the study longitudinally to track alumni for up to 20 years after graduation to see how their interactions with international students while in college may have affected their careers, public service and priorities in the long run." They also hope to analyze how these outcomes compare with those for U.S. students who participate in "study abroad" programs.
Source: Duke University
CITATION: "Examining the Educational Benefits of Interacting with International Students," Jiali Luo, David Jamieson-Drake. Journal of International Students, June 2013.