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The international student population is steadily increasing. However, we know little about what happens to their academic motivation as they transit from their home culture into a new host culture. This gap in knowledge needs to be addressed given that motivation is a key driver of academic success. The aim of this chapter is to examine factors that can influence international students' academic motivation during and after transition. Three broad theoretical frameworks drawn from the acculturation literature – culture learning theory, stress and coping theory, and social identification theory – are proffered to help understand the impact of the transition on student motivation. It seems inevitable that student motivation will generally decline during the early phases of the transition. This may be due to the differences in sociocultural norms between the home and host culture, the variety of stressors that international students face, and the potential impact of stereotyping and discrimination. However, the extent and duration of this decline could be moderated by a variety of personal (e.g., language proficiency, personality, acculturation strategies, reasons for going abroad) and contextual (e.g., cultural distance, social support) factors. Examples of intervention programs that can buffer against motivational decline are given. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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