Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Chase Clow, PhD


Chinese students form the largest group of international students in the U.S. today, yet research demonstrates that they experience significantly more acculturation stress than their European peers (Qi, Wang, Pincus & Wu, 2018). The purpose of this study is to analyze acculturation stress Chinese international students (CIS) face that stem from interactions with their American peers. This study takes a qualitative approach consisting of both group and individual interviews involving one focus group of seven American students and another focus group of six CIS. The researcher also interviewed two teachers and observed their classes. The research findings indicate that both Chinese and American students do not identify language as a major barrier to interactions between them. Moreover, students report that social media and Chinese language courses mediate the interpersonal barriers by facilitating increased connectedness between groups and individuals both inside and outside of school. Additionally, language courses and diversity initiatives developed at the school foster increased curiosity and cultural understanding between the two peer groups. The research demonstrates that more recent forms of media and communication have served to generally decrease the acculturation stress experienced by the current generation of CIS as opposed to students in previous decades. At the same time, the research findings pointed to a mutual lack of interest or motivation among students to get to know one another more deeply, facilitate greater understanding between peer groups and develop healthier learning environments. Society, school, and teachers need to help guide both Chinese and students to get beyond this “working relationship” and be truly friends with each other.

Available for download on Saturday, May 06, 2023