Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


University of Northern Iowa--Students; University of Northern Iowa; Students, Foreign--Iowa--Cedar Falls; Student adjustment--Iowa--Cedar Falls; Student adjustment; Students; Students, Foreign; Iowa--Cedar Falls; Academic theses;


International students travel from their home countries in search of continuing education abroad without expectations that they will encounter stress. However, upon arriving at American college and university campuses, international students start noting differences with their respective countries. Challenges start developing related to a range of issues including language difficulties, immigration, and cultural shock/alienation concerns which, if not dealt with promptly, might impede their health behaviors and academic performance. This study investigated sources of stress and its impact on academic performance and health behaviors of international students at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Investigated also were coping strategies that international students employed in order to manage stress while attending school at UNI.

One-hundred forty-one international students (55% female, 45% male) responded to a questionnaire designed to measure sources of stress and coping strategies during the summer and fall of 2003. Descriptive statistics were utilized to determine common sources of stress and the coping strategies. T-test, cross tabs/Chi-square, ANOV A, bivariate correlations, and multiple regression analyses were utilized to determine if any difference, association, or prediction of the outcome existed between independent and dependent variables.

The findings of the study indicated that most international students at UNI experience stress emanating from issues such as: alienation/discrimination; communication/language difficulties, homesickness/loneliness, financial difficulties, and academic pressure. In order to cope with stress international students exercised, developed friendships, dated American students, and practiced religion. Significant differences were found between demographic characteristics and stress levels, academic performance, and coping strategies of international students. On an average, the academic performance (GPA) of international students was good (M= 3.4). Also, the overall health behavior was good; however, male students perceived themselves healthier than female students.

International students reported stress played a motivational role in regard to academic performance and encouraged positive health behaviors. Recommendations included designing and implementing thorough orientation programs, and cultural competency training for faculty, staff, and students.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Dennis Cryer

Second Advisor

Sue Joslyn

Third Advisor

Catherine Zeman


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (118 leaves)



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