UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND
NEEDS AND PERCEPTIONS OF
FEMALE AND MALE
Jeanne E. Manes, William E.
Sedlacek & Frederick T.L. Leong
Research Report 10-84
report was done in cooperation with the Office of International Student
Services, UMCP, Valerie Woolston, Director.
Computer time for this research was furnished by the
Computer Science Center, University of Mayland College Park.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND
NEEDS AND PERCEPTIONS OF
FEMALE AND MALE INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
Joanne E. Manese, William E.
Sedlacek and Frederick T.L. Leong,
Research Report 10-84
Ninety-six incoming international
undergraduate students attending a required fall orientation at the
university of Maryland, College Park,
completed a questionnaire on their background, perceptions and needs. Results
indicated that females expected to have a harder time than most students at the
University and they were more easily discouraged than were males while males
were more likely to see themselves as leaders than were females. Males also
viewed themselves as acting more strongly on things they believed in than did
females. Females expressed a greater need to talk to a counselor for career
planning, and indicated greater needs for improving note taking and classroom
speaking than males did.
of the results for program planning and research concerning international
students are discussed.
Research interest in international students has
been increasingly evident among faculty, administrator, and student personnel
professionals. This greater attention probably can be linked to the
dramatically growing numbers of international students on American college
campuses. According to the annual census by the Institute of International
Education (IIE), more than 325,000 persons holding foreign student visas were
enrolled in U.S. post-secondary institutions in the academic year 1981-82
(Boyan, Julian, & Rew, 1982). It has been projected that by the end of the
century there may be more than one million international students in the United
States (Goodwin & Nacht, 1983).
of the research has investigated international students in general, has been
descriptive, and has focused on their problems in areas such as academic
performance, adjustment to the U.S., and non-return to the home country
(Lee, Abd-Ella & Burks, 1981; Perkins, Perkins Guglieimine, &
Reiff, 1977). According to the literature, top ranking problems commonly cited
include lack of English proficiency, inadequate financial resources, social
life adjustment, problems in daily, living and loneliness/home sickness (Lee,
et. al, 1981).
while the studies conducted on international students' problems have
undoubtedly provided important information, several research short-comings
have been cited. Lee et al. (1981), in their comprehensive review of the
literature and research, suggested that research can the needs and perceptions
of international students was lacking. Furthermore, the results of their
research suggested the importance of investigating subgroups, e.g. by sex,
class standing, regional origin, etc. within the diverse international student
population. Perkins et al. (1977) asserted there was a need for more
sophisticated statistical analysis in research concerning international
students. While these authors agreed that
descriptive studies using percentages were helpful, they pointed out that the
use of percentages alone could result in misleading conclusions when
comparisons were made between groups.
studies on sex differences among international students are very limited and
show mixed results. Porter (cited in Lee et al., 1981) found that females
reported having more problem than males, but Collins (cited in Lee et al.,
1981) found just the opposite. Sex was not shown to be relevant in predicting
attitudes about seeking professional psychological help (Dadfar &
Freidlander, 1982), and Lather (cited in Lee et al,. 1981), found no sex
differences in perceptions of educational experiences Lee et al. (1981 ), found
that female international students attached a greater importance to needs
regarding academic planning, facilitating coursework, goals beyond the degree,
and anticipated post-return needs for material rewards (i.e., jobs,
salaries and housing upon returning home).
purpose of the present study was to explore differences in needs and perceptions
between male and female undergraduate
incoming undergraduate international
students (N=96; 52% male, 48% female) attending a required fall
orientation completed a written questionnaire. The sample included Kudrnn from
South East Asia (54%), the Middle East (20%), Europe (10%), Latin America (5%),
Africa (4%), and other (6%). In order to investigate sex differences, 43 items
related to perceptions and 25 items related to career and academic needs were
analyzed using multivariate analysis (MANOVA) at the .05 level of significance.
differences were found on several items related to self perceptions and career
and academic needs. Table 1 summarizes the significant results of the MANOVA
and gives items, means and standard deviations for both groups.
terms of self perceptions, females compared to males, expected to have a harder
time adjusting, to the University of Maryland, College Park, indicated they
were more easily discouraged when things did not work out, saw themselves less
likely to act on strong beliefs, and were less likely to feel they are viewed
as leaders. No significant sex differences were found on items related to
perceptions of the University, perceptions of family and friends, and
perceptions of sex roles. Both male and female international undergraduates had
a generally positive view of the University, and both groups felt they received
support from family and friends for being at school and adjusting to the
University. Results further suggested that the international undergraduate males and females hold similar
views regarding sex roles; views which appeared to be neither obviously
conservative or liberal positions.
results indicated a career need difference between males and females. Females
indicated a greater need to talk to a counselor about career plans than did
males. No other significant differences were found in the items assessing needs
for career exploration, work experience self-exploration, or job seeking
skills, although both groups indicated moderate needs in these areas.
differences were found in two academic needs items. Females, expressed a
greater need to become more comfortable in speaking up in class and taking better
class notes than did males. Males and females were similar in expressing
moderate needs in the areas of general study skills, writing skills, and
academic advising. Additionally, no significant sex differences were found
on needs concerning test anxiety, library use,
math skills and math anxiety, and school activities with both males and females
indicating weak needs in these areas.
The results of this study indicate there are
differences in perceptions and needs of male and female international
undergraduate students. Looking first at perceptions, differences were found in
the way female and male international students see themselves. Overall, results
suggest that females as a group question their self-efficacy, while males
do not. While a possible explanation for female international undergraduates
expecting to have a harder time at school, being morn easily discouraged not
acting on beliefs, and not seeing themselves viewed as leaders might be attributed
to lack of self confidence, it is also possible that these perceptions stem
from a realistic assessment of the fit between the university environment and
females. That is, it may well be that the university setting is not
"naturally” geared to provide conditions in which female international
students can feel efficacions.
Story (1982) points out, values such as autonomy and self-assertiveness
inherent in the theories of college student development may be in conflict with
the values of certain international students. Thus, while the academic
community may be pushing the international student in a way considered
facilitative of growth, the female student may feel as though she is having to
swim upstream against a current of opposing values, new ideas, and differing
goals. And the farther the student is from holding the values of till
mainstream the harder the swim; which may he the cast for tile female
finding that male international undergraduates did not evidence the same
perceptions of more limited self-efficacy on the university campus
suggests that, in some areas, sex may be a more powerful influencing variable
than being a "foreign" student It has been pointed out in the
literature on U.S. students that females show less self-efficacy and self-assertion
than males, and the present study suggests that the socialization process based
on sex may be world-wide. One implication from these findings in that it
may be useful to consider research and programming which includes both female
students from the United States and female international undergraduates.
sex differences in needs which were found supported the findings of Lee, et.
al. (1981), who found that females expressed a higher level of needs.
Considering the differences found in self
perceptions, this difference in needs it not surprising. One would
expect, and perhaps even hope , that the person expecting to have a harder time
in school would also express a greater number of needs.
the findings suggest that while all international undergraduate indicated a
need for assistance in some areas of study skills and in career development,
females were particularly interested in career counseling. However, as noted by
Sue & Sue (1977), international students tend to be reluctant to initiate a
counseling relationship. This may be particularly critical to meeting the needs
of international undergraduate as counseling centers are often the major
vehicle for study ski skills and career services. Therefore, as previously
suggested (Manese, Leong & Sedlacek
, (1985), an introduction to counseling services and continual staff outreach may be particularly important for
international students. Prime ways for reaching International students could be
at their initial orienta-
tion to school, through groups and organizations
in which they may be involved, or through the student center(s) in which
international students congregate most frequently.
greater interest in career counseling expressed by female international
students is compatible with several trends
noted in the literature on female students in general. Mason-Sowell and
Sedlacek (1984) found an increase in vocational orientation of female freshmen
over thirteen years, but no corresponding increase for male freshmen.
Lauria, Sedlacek and Waldo (1985) have shown that more women are entering
college with majors which are nontraditional for women, and they are persisting
in those major. However, Martinez, Sedlacek and Bachhuber (1984) report that
about three-quarters of women baccalaureate level graduates are still
finding employment in traditional areas, and these same female graduates
express more interest in post-graduation career counsel counseling than
picture that presents itself is one of change in orientation, but some
confusion, and possibly thwarted ambitions among women in college these days.
Female international students are likely caught up in this process, which is
further exacerbated by their being from another country.
conclusion, a few points are highlighted. First, although international
students in general share some commonalities, there appear to be differences
among subgroups of these students. Thus, investigating international students
more specifically, taking into account other variables such as sex and standing
(undergraduate vs. graduate) is important for a more complete knowledge and
understanding of these students. Second, if those
concerned with student development are to be effective when working with
international students, it appears necessary to keep well informed of the
research findings and literature concerning international students, and to
modify and develop approaches and programs for working with this diverse group
of students. Thus we need to know a great deal more about international
students; and further research, particularly that which explores subgroup
differences among international students, should prove useful.
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students' traditional and nontraditional career choice by sex., Collie and
University, 60, 253- 56.
D.R., Julian, A.C., & Rew, J. (Eds.) (1982). Own, doors: 1981-82,
New York: Institute of International Education.
S. & Friedlander, M.L. (1982). Differential attitudes of international
students toward seeking professional psychological help. Journal of
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C.D. & Nacht, M. (1983), Absence of decision (Research Report # 1).
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M.Y., Abd-Ella, M., & Burke, L. (1981). Needs of foreign students
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J.E., Leong, F.T.L. & Sedlacek, W.E. (1985). Background, attitudes and
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Martinez, A.C., Sedlacek, W.E. & Bachhuber T.D.
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Center Research Report # 6-84. College Park, Maryland: University of
M. and Sedlacek, W.E. (1984). Change: in campus subcultures by sex over 13
years. College and University, 60, # 1 , 63-67.
C.S., Perkins, M.L., Guglieimino, L.M., & Reiff, R.F. (1977). A comparison
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Table 1: Differences* between Female and Male
Undergraduate International Students
1. I get discouraged easily when I try to do something and
it doesn't work out.
2. In a group where I am comfortable, often I am looked to
as a leader.
3. I expect to have a harder time than most students at
4. When I believe strongly in something, I act on it.
5. I need to talk to a counselor about my career plans.
6. I need to become more comfortable in speaking up in
7. I need to take better notes in class.
Significant at .05 , using MANOVA
For items 1 to 4: 1 = Strongly agree, 5 = Strongly disagree;
for items 5-7: 1 = No need, 4 = Strong need.