AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Contextual Identities: Ethnic, National, and Cosmopolitan Identities in International and American Student Roommates

by Jessica Batterton

Institution: Bowling Green State University
Department: Cross-Cultural, International Education
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Education; Higher Education; ethnic identity; national identity; cosmopolitan identity; emerging adulthood; international students; international and American roommates
Record ID: 2058513
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1428683632


As the number of international students studying at American universities continues to grow (Institute of International Education, 2014), campuses are increasingly becoming social spaces where the local, national, and international meet. Even though students’ identities may still be developing in college (Arnett, 2000) and their environment may influence their identity development (Erikson, 1968), little research has focused on the effects of this unique context on students’ identity formation; therefore, this study investigated the change in international and American student roommates’ ethnic, national, and cosmopolitan identities over the course of one semester at three mid-Western universities. An explanatory mixed-method design was used. On-line pre- and post-test surveys that quantitatively measured students’ ethnic, national, and cosmopolitan identities were administered to international and American student roommates at the beginning and the end of the fall semester. Following the post-test survey, the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews to qualitatively investigate students’ identity development. 2 x 2 mixed-model repeated measures ANOVAs found no significant change in students’ ethnic, national, or cosmopolitan identities; however, students demonstrated that they were still grappling with their identities in different ways as they acted as discoverers, ambassadors, and negotiators. Furthermore, international students changed their ethnic self-labels, suggesting change in their ethnic identities. These findings support a contextual approach to studying identity development in college students while also recognizing the importance of students’ personalities and experiences on this process.