5910 - Understanding Stress in International Students of Higher Education in a Mexican Private University: A Study with a Mixed-Method Approach

Héctor Maldonado Willman, PhD
María de Jesús Araiza Vázquez, PhD
Armando Kutugata Estrada, MEH
Luz María Pérez Gorostieta, PhD

The Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) has an International Program Department in charge of promoting an exchange program with foreign universities. This research pretends to give significant information in the study of Stress and Stressors foreign students might experience studying a Mexican university.

For college Students living and studying in a foreign country may demand an adjustment in a sociocultural, environmental and physiological way. It is during this process that a psychological stress could be present, such as anxiety, a sense of loss, loneliness, helplessness, and depression (Chen, 1999). Stress occurs when these individuals perceive harm, threat or challenge exceeding their resources (Lazarus & Folkman, 1991). In order to understand Stress and its’ effects in International Students in Higher Education in a Mexican Private University in a holistic way, it is convenient to approach this study in a Mixed-Methodology.

Using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) 10-item version we will be able to measure the stress according to the Student’s point of view. In the Quantitative analysis the descriptive statistics will reflect the emotions and situations that might produce some degree of stress as well as the type of stressors present in the student’s life in this foreign university.

Taking into consideration the results obtained in this scale, we will be able to proceed with the application of Focus Groups (FG) in order to understand the effects of stress in their daily life in campus as well as the type of stressors perceived by the students in a subjective sense (Qualitative approach). Furthermore, we will add to this section of the study a number of deep open interviews to staff members of the International Department and to Faculty members teaching several courses to foreign students.

A group of 60 international students arrived in the semester of autumn of 2011 from the following countries: Germany, Netherlands, Korea, China, Poland, France, Finland, England, Spain, Argentine, and Brazil. From this group, we will ask the group to participate answering the Scale online in Phase I and III. The foreign students are composed of 60 members (21 males and 39 females), regarding the students’ age, they are between 18 to 25 years old.

Quantitative Approach

This study is divided in three phases:

Phase I. Application of the Perceived Stress Scale on line, using the program e-encuestas.com

Phase II. Focus Group with a number of 6 to 8 subjects, according the procedures of this technique.

Phase III. Application of the Perceived Stress Scale on line, using the program e-encuetas.com

In order to measure the level of Stress in foreign students, we came across with the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) 10-item version, which is the most widely used psychological instrument to measure the perception of stress. This instrument measures the situations in one’s life that are appraised as stressful (Cohen, 2005).


Qualitative Approach

Focus Groups will be applied following the instruction of Morgan & Scannell (1998). One of the advantages of this instrument is the flexibility to establish a two-way communication with the participants, allowing the moderators to adjust the script of questions and topics in the discussion going on. Other benefits are the economic exploitation of the views of a number of people, information on attitudes and opinions that might arise in the context of the interaction among all the participants (Kruger, 1998).Furthermore, we will add to this sect

Keywords: Stress, International Students, Higher Education, Mexican University, Mixed-Method Study

Author: Kutugata, Armando (UDEM, Mexico / Mexiko)


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