L. David Ritchie

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication

Physical Description

1 online resource ( 4, vi, 85 p.)


Muslim students -- Education (Higher) -- United States, Arab students -- Education (Higher) -- United States, Intercultural communication -- United States, Stress management




The values and beliefs involved in Islam maintain that religion is embedded in everyday life. Students from countries which subscribe to the tenets of Islam may have a difficult time adjusting to the secular society of the U.S. This study is concerned with the interrelationships among events perceived as stressful, the ways of coping with stress that are reported as most often used, and the reported level of satisfaction with living in the U.S. for the Muslim Arab international students in this study. A four page survey questionnaire was used as the instrument. The questionnaire was filled out by 102 Muslim Arab international students regarding the areas of stressors, coping strategies, satisfaction with living in the U.S., and individual descriptors. None of the hypotheses were supported with statistically significant results. Of the subjects, 83% reported that they did not receive any intercultural pre-sojourn training. Presently, pre-sojourn intercultural training does not aid in reducing the stressful situations experienced by these subjects (Hypothesis 1). The frequency of emotion-focused coping does not decrease when the perceived effectiveness of presojourn intercultural training increases (Hypothesis 2). Limited knowledge and standardized research in this area may contribute to the lack of success of intercultural training. Additional time spent living in the U.S. does not reduce the communication-related stressors Muslim Arab students experience (Hypothesis 3). Although research indicates the longer people live in a foreign culture, the more they learn the rules and norms and therefore become acculturated (Samovar and Porter, 1988), the additional considerations a Muslim Arab international student may have to deal with could override the positive effects of time. The frequency of emotion-focused coping does not substantially decrease the longer amount of time a student has lived in the U.S. (Hypothesis 4). stress is a part of any student's life. For Muslim Arab international students living in the U.S., the basic value system provided by the belief in Islam appears to be related to coping with stressful situations (Hypothesis 5). However, the results were not significant. As the variety of coping strategies increases, the variety of stressors does not decrease (Hypothesis 6). Rather, as the variety of stressors increases, so too does the variety of coping strategies. It appears that students who experience more stressors respond by using more coping strategies. Satisfaction was correlated with neither coping strategies nor stressors. One would expect satisfaction to be positively related to coping strategies (Hypothesis 7), but there was no relationship. One would also expect satisfaction to be inversely related to stressors (Hypothesis 8), but there is no relationship. Satisfaction was measured by the extent to which subjects would want to remain in the U.S., and if they would recommend a loved one to study in the U.S. Based on the highly obligatory social structure that exists in many Middle Eastern countries, contemplating remaining away from one's family and friends may not have been acceptable. Difficulties associated with living in the U.S. as an international student may have also led subjects to report they would not recommend a loved one to study in the U.S. In conclusion, there are three important results that can be drawn from this study. First, with respect, at least, to the Muslim Arab international students in this study, there is no way to empirically discriminate between different categories of stressors or different categories of coping strategies. Second, denial and wishful thinking are not effective coping strategies. Third, direct problem solving is clearly the most effective way for the Muslim Arab international students in this study to cope with stressors while living in the U.S.


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