Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication


According to the 1989 report on foreign students by the Institute of International Education, there were 366,354 foreign students attending colleges and universities in the United States during the 1989/1990 school year. These students corne from 172 different countries and territories. Over 50% of the foreign students in the United States come from Asia, 12.3% from Latin America, 1.7% from Europe, 11.0% from the Middle East, 7.1% from Africa, and 5.7% from Canada. Foreign students desire to study in the United States to benefit from training not available in their home countries (Marshall, 1970). Singh (1976) and Hull (1978) also found that academic goals were the most important goal to foreign students. According to Spaulding, Seth and Flack (1976), the major reasons foreign students corning to the United States are 1) to get advanced education or training, 2) to acquire prestige through a degree from a United States institution, 3) to take advantage of available scholarship funds, 4) to escape unsettled political or economic conditions or, 5) to learn more about the United States. When foreign students come to the United States, theybring the desire for an education that can provide them with a meaningful role in their home societies. While pursuing this goal, they are exposed to new and different societal values, roles, rights, and responsibilities. At this point, foreign students also find themselves in a different and alien culture which requires significant adaptation and adjustment. However, adjustment to the new environment and its culture is difficult for foreign students who are trying to achieve their academic goals. These students must make a number of important adjustments during their stay in the United States. Some of these adjustments are related to their relationship with the community setting, such as the facilities offered, as well as alien norms and values to which they are exposed (Aliabadi, 1972). They must adapt also to the food, weather, political, and educational systems. Although adjustment to campus life is a common problem for all new students entering a university, it is especially difficult for foreign students, who are not usually fluent in English, and are unfamiliar with the culture of the United States. This raises the question of how foreign students might best adapt themselves to the new environment. Several variables perhaps might be included to explain the different degree of adjustment among foreign students. Mass media researchers began to be aware of the important role of mass media in the adjustment process of foreign students. This is because mass media are important socialization agents in modern society, along with parents, and peer groups (Peterson, Jensen and Rivers, 1965). Also, mass media function as major vehicles for foreign students to learn about American culture (Klineberg and Hull, 1979). Therefore, attention is given in this study to the role of American mass media in the adjustment of foreign students at Iowa State University. Cognitive perception is also considered an important variable (Kim, 1979). Cognitive perception refers to ways in which an individual receives, interprets, and responds to a stimulus. Sabrosky (1961) stated that perception develops from one's own ideas about the universe, and adjustment lies between the two extremes. Therefore, adjustment behavior occurs if and when a person thinks of events or objects in the light of what other people think, and accordingly changes his or her previous idea about the new culture. Levin and Murphy (1948) concluded that the different patterns of perception result in different modes of learning, and this in turn results in different degrees of adjustment. Based on this, cognitive perceptions of Americans and American culture by foreign students are taken into consideration in this study.



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Che Su Binti Mustaffa



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78 pages