35 Seiten, Note: A
Problem & Gap
Social Media and Academic Achievement
Social media and personal life
Findings I (Interview with THU Representative)
Findings II (Interview with Students)
Summary of Data
The Communication Wall
Attachment 1 Questionnaire on integration Strategies of International Students at HHS
Attachment 2 Interview questions (for students)
When students are traveling to study abroad, they may face different issues such as loneliness, isolation, discrimination that may affect their academic performance and cause stress and mental health problems directly or indirectly.
Di Tommaso and Spinner (1997) found out that integration into social network is the best predictor of lower levels of social loneliness. Universities provide support for international students and it is intended to facilitate an optimal (from the point of view of the universities) academic and social adjustment, however, causing boring and lonely social life ‘outside the classroom’ and feeling a lack of belonging contribute to their sense of alienation in the host society (Gu, 2011).
Due to the heavy study load and stress and because of lack of time, international students tend to have more in-door activities. Because of the developed technologies and internet, most of them prefer to communicate through social media: especially when they encounter problems in their daily life, they tend to search solutions via social channels on internet.
Moreover, the media channels that The Hague University of Applied Sciences (hereinafter HHS) uses now seems not to be adequate for integration. HHS uses media tools such as blackboard and emails to communicate with the students, and students could theoretically build up certain conversation via blackboard. However, students consider both channels as “formal” channels that are one-way communication channels instead of desired social channels which is two-way communication. In other words, students expect an effective mediator that can help them to understand and to adapt to the new studying and living environment.
Hence, it is important to develop effective media channels that will contribute to integration among international students at HHS by providing recommendations for improvement in media channels and exploring possible solutions to the problem.
To develop a communication plan aimed at integrating international students at the Hague University by providing recommendations for improvement of media channels.
How to use media channels in order to enhance integration of the international students at The Hague University of Applied Sciences?
What are the factors that contribute to establishing of an effective media platform in order to improve the integration of international students?
1) Using relevant theories/models to analyze and discuss
2) Conducting survey and/or interviews to understand why international students consider that the media channels at HHS are not sufficient for their social needs.
3) Creating a “communication/feedback wall” at HHS. Participants can provide their answers in English or in mother languages (only if they are not willing to write in English). The objective of the project proposal is to find out the answer on research question and explore if this wall could be a new creative media channel to collect feedback from international students.
This project proposal sees the social and academic integration in the dimension of using different communication platforms at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Whilst recent studies suggest that over 95% of British undergraduate students are regularly using social networking sites, there is still known little about how this phenomenon has impact on student experience and, in particular, how it influences students’ social integration into university life (Madgea et al., 2009).
Therefore, this project proposal explores:
- how engagement in different university communication platforms influences students’ social integration;how social networking sites (different communication platforms) are used by students for support and socialization purposes whilst at university and how social networking sites (SNS) by higher educational establishment to support socialization and integration process in the future.
Respondents of held survey wereTHU students at The Hague University of Applied Sciences using an offline questionnaire and offline interview with THU Communication and Marketing Department’s representative Kimberley Brewste.
Web 2.0 applications are increasingly embedded in the daily routines of everyday life, particularly in the daily routine of young people in many places and with variety of different social settings (Hargittai 2007; Kim and Yun 2007; Lange 2007; Leander and McKim 2003; Tufekci 2008).
In the field of education, such interest has tended to revolve around students’ educational use of SNS (Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe 2007; Selwyn 2007), the use by educators of SNS in their pedagogic practice (Hewitt and Forte 2006; Mason 2006; Mazer, Murphy, and Simonds 2007) (Madgea et al., 2009).
This community project was developed to focus on:
1. how engagement in different communication platforms influences students’ social integration;
2. how SNS are used by students for support and socialization purposes whilst at university;
3. how social networking tools should be used and improved by university support services and academic departments to enhance the social and academic integration of students.
Language competence is the key to successful integration. (Robertson et al., 2000)
An increasing number of students prefer to study at university abroad (Healey 2008; Russell et al. 2010). Until recently, Anglo-Saxon countries like the US, UK or Australia primarily attracted large numbers of international students. More recently, also non-English speaking countries are increasingly attracting international students. In comparison to the UK (14%) or Australia (20%), the degree of internationalization in higher education in the Netherlands is relatively low. Only 5% of the student population that attended higher education in 2000–2007 were international students (Dutch Ministry of Education 2010; OECD 2009) (Rienties et al., 2012)
According to Tinto (1975, 1998), students not only need to persist in their study in order to graduate (i.e. academic integration), but they also need to participate in the student culture, both within and outside the immediate context of the learning environment (i.e . social integration).
Wilcox et al. (2005) found that having friends, sharing accommodation with other students as well as informal contacts with the university staff positively influences social integration.
In line with Tinto’s interaction model, Baker and Siryk (1999) found out yhat both academic and social integration has impact on study performance. Baker and Siryk (1999) distinguish four concepts in academic integration: academic-, social-, personal- & emotional adjustment and attachment. Academic adjustment refers to the degree of student’s success in coping with various educational demands such as motivation, application, performance and satisfaction with the academic environment. Social adjustment describes how well students deal with the interpersonal-social demands of learning process, such as making friends, being part of social activities or being able to work in groups. Personal and emotional adjustment indicates the level of psychological and physical distress while adapting to the local academic way-of-life (Baker and Siryk 1999). (Rienties et al., 2012)
Tinto points to the fact that students are more likely to remain enrolled in an institution if they become connected to the social and academic life of that institution. Students who become integrated into a college, by developing connections to individuals, participating in clubs or engaging in academic activities, are more likely to persist than those who remain on the periphery. Preventing this integration process may be incongruence or cause a lack of institutional fit. Students who do not feel at home in the higher education institution abroad or do not believe that an institution can help them meet their goals are unlikely to persist. Likewise, students who are isolated or who do not engage in social interactions within the institution, are less likely to persist in the institution. Both incongruence and isolation inhibit the integration process, thereby inhibiting persistence. (Mechur et al., 2008)
The remedy is integration into an existing or newly formed social network. Weiss states the following: social networks provide a base for social activities, for outings and parties and get-togethers with people with whom one has much in common; they provide a pool of others among whom one can find companions for an evening’s conversation or for some portion of the daily round. Social isolation removes these gratifications; it very directly impoverishes life. (Weiss, 1973, p. 150). (Sawir et al., 2007)
The interviews covered a range of areas such as social, student life, and preferences of communication channels, language use, cross-cultural relations, and experiences of dealing with university authorities of international students.
THU (The Hague University of Applied Sciences) provides support for international students that is intended to facilitate an optimal (from the point of view of the university) academic and social adjustment.
Nowadays the need for higher education institutions to have a reliable, effective and attractive web presence is increasing similarly as online technologies are becoming an important part of the educational process. These institutions are expected to provide online information for their students and alumni as well as to attract prospective students. (Kerr, 2013)
The latest research published by Nuffic (2012) shows that the number of international students studying in Dutch higher education sustains to grow. According to Skyrme (2007), more and more universities are open for students because of globalization, particularly those universities that offer English-speaking programs. During the last years, the significant change is observed. As what has been stated at the HHS website, since 2005 the number of Dutch students who are interested in studying abroad has been sharply increased. Thus, HHS has to “offer diverse and internationally-oriented range of study programmes in order to secure an adequate intake of new students”. The international students are absorbed in some programs such as Process & Food Technology, Master of Communication Management and etc.
According to HHS annual report 2012, the student body is highly varied. In 2012, the majority of students are still Dutch, which is 55%. And the non-Western students and Western students are 32% and 13% respectively. The enrolled non-Western students are mainly from China, the Netherlands Antilles, Morocco, Turkey and Suriname. Bulgarian, German and Romanian compose a relatively large number of European students. Currently there are in total 8 English-language programs. In addition, the number of exchange students is increasing steadily since 2010 with 418 in 2010, 485 in 2011 and 503 in 2012.
Furthermore, HHS investigates the study success rate for the first-year programme: the number of students who enrolled two years ago and passed their first-year exams decreased by 0.2%, comparing the students who enrolled three years ago.
Without building relationships, international students may have very isolating experience. Social media are therefore also seen as an important channel to engage for international students while they are studying abroad. Students tend to deal with problems by using digital channels like computers and mobiles because these channels provide solutions much more quickly. Thus, some universities see the internet as an important communication channel. For example, according to the survey held by The Guardian (2011), the University of Falmouth combines Facebook page and their own digital material to provide prospective students a complete view of the student’s life at campus.
Investing in a communication platform not only ensure appropriate integration of international students, but also ensure that international students better use the sources and facilities in order to improve their academic performance and life quality in the Netherlands. This integration platform is not just nice to have one, it is vital to differentiate with other universities and contribute to the reputation of HHS.
Unfortunately, the information or facilities that international students can find and use are very limited. For instance, HHS states on their website that university has “ several restaurants, extensive sport facilities and student lounges to help them unwind and meet friends… But if you would like to talk to someone when you might face a problem, there is always someone here for you, we make you feel at home!” (See Figure 1 below) More than 90% of the respondents that have been interviewed in the framework of this project claim that they do not have enough time and budget to go to those “restaurants, sport facilities and students lounges”, and in most of situations, it takes very long time to find anyone who can help them. Some respondents use words such as “bad experience”, “no respect”, “terrible memories” to express their feelings.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 1: Source: http://www.thehagueuniversity.com/international-student-services/general
In order to have a comprehensive understanding of the communication channels which international students use currently, there were interviewed the employees working in International Students Services. However, representatives claimed that they only deal with the visa issues for international students. Then they recommended the coordinator of Communication and Marketing department at HHS, Kimberley Brewste, who stated that establishing and managing those communication channels is not their responsibility, but rather responsibility of the coordinators of those international programmes. Then we interviewed one of those coordinators, who said that they outsource the communication channels to a supplier outside of the university. The channels would be changed only when the demands could be recognized.
Obviously, there is a gap among the different departments at HHS regarding the improvement of international students’ integration. Support that international students can obtain in time is very limited. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a customized communication platform that would assist international students to adapt themselves quickly into the new education environment and enjoy their life abroad. In the next chapter authors of the project elaborate more why it is important to build a social platform for international students.
Nowadays, social media has been also used in academic settings to assist students to participate, share and learn with their fellow students (Kabilan, Ahmad & Abidin, 2010). Laird and Kuh (2005) argue that students also use information technologies regularly both in academic and social lives.
Hrastinski (2009) found that the interactions between individuals have impact on active participation, which is a vital part in student learning. Students can develop and share skills by learning with others, not only in classroom, but also outside of classroom through social media. Kabilan et al. (2010) suggest that learners can construct knowledge by establishing learning communities. As a tool, social media can encourage the learning communities to work collaboratively and achieve the expected learning outcomes (Yu et al., 2010). In addition, Shoshani and Braun (2007) indicate that social media facilitates collaborative learning that in turn supports to reinforce the creative learning process. As a result, students can use social media as supplementary learning tools. By utilizing the extra materials provided by social media, students can be more critical and creative (Shoshani & Braun, 2007; Mazman & Usluel, 2010). Therefore, the dynamic involvement and establishment of virtual relationships via social media encourage students to develop established connections with other sources outside of classroom (Yu et al., 2010).
Many scholars point to the fact that students who use social media for learning purpose feel more connected to their peers than those students who do not use social media actively (Jackson, 2011; Annetta et al., 2009). Tomai et al. (2010) suggest that students who participate in social media feel more emotionally linked with peers because they have people to talk to when they need support.
And these connections among peers encourage students to participate in class actively (Arnold & Paulus, 2010). However, social media can distract students from finishing their academic work because students who spend too much time on social media could hardly balance the online activities and the coursework (Hurt et al., 2012).
The results of our survey also show the necessity for social platform that provides discussions with classmates and opportunities to learn from each other outside classroom.
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