Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 29 (2) Jun. 2021 / JSSH-7605-2020


Effect of Support from Lecturers and Host Country Nationals on Cross-Cultural Adjustment among International Students: Evidence from a Malaysian University

Hak Liong Chan, Abdul Rahman Yaakob and Saizal Pinjaman

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 2, June 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.2.25

Keywords: Cross-cultural adjustment, host country nationals, international students, lecturers, Malaysia, support

Published on: 28 June 2021

Pursuing higher education abroad is a golden opportunity for any student’s personal development; however, international students’ cross-cultural adjustment (CCA) can be onerous in a foreign country. The purpose of this study is to empirically examine the roles of perceived lecturer support and host country national (HCN) support in international students’ CCA in three dimensions, i.e. general, academic, and interaction. Adopting the purposive sampling technique, survey data was collected from a sample of 124 first-year international students in a Malaysian university. The results of the partial least squares structural equation modelling analysis showed that both perceived lecturer support and HCN support are influential in international students’ general, academic, and interaction adjustment. These findings suggest that higher education institutions should amplify the role of lecturers and HCNs to help international students adjust to the various cultural aspects in Malaysia. This study contributes to the literature by applying the anxiety and uncertainty management theory to validate the influence of support on CCA in the international student context.

  • Andrade, M. S. (2006). International students in English-speaking universities: Adjustment factors. Journal of Research In International Education, 5(2), 131-154. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475240906065589

  • Aymans, S. C., Kortsch, T., & Kauffeld, S. (2019). Gender and career optimism - The effects of gender-specific perceptions of lecturer support, career barriers and self-efficacy on career optimism. Higher Education Quarterly, 74(3), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12238

  • Azila-Gbettor, E. M., & Abiemo, M. K. (2020). Moderating effect of perceived lecturer support on academic self-efficacy and study engagement: evidence from a Ghanaian university. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-04-2020-0079

  • Baba, Y., & Hosoda, M. (2014). Home away home: Better understanding of the role of social support in predicting cross-cultural adjustment among international students. College Student Journal, 48(1), 1-15.

  • Bader, A. K. (2017). The effect of host country nationals’ social support on expatriates’ adjustment - A multiple stakeholder approach. In B. Bader, T. Schuster, & A. K. Bader (Eds.), Expatriate management: Transatlantic dialogues (pp. 137-163). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-57406-0_5

  • Barclay, D. W., Higgins, C. A., & Thompson, R. (1995). The Partial Least Squares (PLS) approach to causal modeling: Personal computer adoption and use as an illustration. Technology Studies, 2(2), 285-309.

  • Bender, M., van Osch, Y., Sleegers, W., & Ye, M. (2019). Social support benefits psychological adjustment of international students: Evidence from a meta-analysis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 50(7), 827-847. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022119861151

  • Black, J. S., & Gregersen, H. B. (1991). Antecedents to cross-cultural adjustment for expatriates in Pacific Rim Assignments. Human Relations, 44(5), 497-515. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872679104400505

  • Black, J. S., & Mendenhall, M. (1991). The U-curve adjustment hypothesis revisited: A review and theoretical framework. Journal of International Business Studies, 22(2), 225-247. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8490301

  • Brunsting, N. C., Zachry, C., & Takeuchi, R. (2018). Predictors of undergraduate international student psychosocial adjustment to US universities: A systematic review from 2009-2018. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 66, 22-33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2018.06.002

  • Chai, D. S., Van, H. T. M., Wang, C.W., Lee, J., & Wang, J. (2020). What do international students need? The role of family and community supports for adjustment, engagement, and organisational citizenship behaviour. Journal of International Students, 10(3), 571-589. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i3.1235

  • Chan, H. L., Zawawi, D., & Ng, S. I. (2019). Effects of primary stakeholders’ support on expatriate adjustment and performance in Malaysia. Jurnal Pengurusan, 56, 3-14. https://doi.org/10.17576/pengurusan-2019-56-01

  • Chavajay, P. (2013). Perceived social support among international students at a U.S. university. Psychological Reports: Sociocultural Issues in Psychology, 112(2), 667-677. https://doi.org/10.2466/17.21.PR0.112.2.667-677

  • Cho, J., & Yu, H. (2015). Roles of university support for international students in the United States: Analysis of a systematic model of university identification, university support, and psychological well-being. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(1), 11-27. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315314533606

  • Chuah, J. S., & Singh, M. K. (2016). International students’ perspectives on the importance of obtaining social support from host national students. International Education Studies, 9(4), 132-140.

  • Clinciu, A. I. (2013). Adaptation and stress for the first year university students. Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, 78, 718-722. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.04.382

  • Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural science (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.98.2.310

  • Elemo, A. S., & Türküm, A. S. (2019). The effects of psychoeducational intervention on the adjustment, coping self-efficacy and psychological distress levels of international students in Turkey. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 70, 7-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2019.02.003

  • Farr-Wharton, B., Charles, M. B., Keast, R., Woolcott, G., & Chamberlain, D. (2018). Why lecturers still matter: The impact of lecturer-student exchange on student engagement and intention to leave university prematurely. Higher Education, 75, 167-185. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-017-0190-5

  • Garcia, P. R. J. M., Restubog, S. L. D., Bordia, P., Bordia, S., & Roxas, R. E. O. (2015). Career optimism: The roles of contextual support and career decision-making self-efficacy. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 88, 10-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2015.02.004

  • Ghasemy, M., Teeroovengadum, V., Becker, J. M., & Ringle, C. M. (2020). This fast car can move faster: a review of PLS-SEM application in higher education research. Higher Education, 80(6), 1121-1152.

  • Gold, A. H., Malhotra, A., & Segars, A. H. (2001). Knowledge management: An organisational capabilities perspective. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18(1), 185-214. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421222.2001.11045669

  • Gudykunst, W. B. (1998). Applying anxiety/uncertainty management (AUM) Theory to intercultural adjustment training. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 22(2), 227-250. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-1767(98)00005-4

  • Gudykunst, W. B. (Ed.) (2005). Theorising about intercultural communication. Sage Publications.

  • Hair, J. F., Sarstedt, M., Ringle, C. M., & Gudergan, S. P. (2017). Advanced issues in Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling. Sage Publications.

  • Hammer, M. R., Wiseman, R. L., Rasmussen, J. L., & Bruschke, J. C. (1998). A test of anxiety/uncertainty management theory: The intercultural adaptation context. Communication Quarterly, 46(3), 309-326. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463379809370104

  • Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviours, institutions and organisations across nations. Sage Publications.

  • Kline, R. B. (2011). Convergence of structural equation modeling and multilevel modeling. In M. Williams & W. P. Vogt (Eds.), Handbook of methodological innovation in social research methods (pp. 562-589). Sage Publications.

  • Mahmud, Z., Amat, S., Rahman, S., & Ishak, N. M. (2010). Challenges for international students in Malaysia: Culture, climate and care. Procedia-Social and Behavioural Sciences, 7, 289-293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.10.040

  • Malaklolunthu, S., & Selan, P. S. (2011). Adjustment problems among international students in Malaysian private higher education institutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, 15, 833-837. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.03.194

  • Malek, M. A., Budhwar, P., & Reiche, B. S. (2015). Sources of support and expatriation: A multiple stakeholder perspective of expatriate adjustment and performance in Malaysia. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(2), 258-276. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2014.937968

  • McClure, J. W. (2007). International graduates’ cross-cultural adjustment: Experiences, coping strategies, and suggested programmatic responses. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(2), 199-217. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510701191976

  • Mustafa, Z. (2017, September 27). International students and the education Malaysia brand. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/09/284694/international-students-and-education-malaysia-brand

  • Nagaraj, S., Nai-Peng, T., Chiu-Wan, N., Kiong-Hock, L., & Pala, J. (2015). Counting ethnicity in Malaysia: The complexity of measuring diversity. In P. Simon, V. Piché, & A. A. Gagnon, Social statistics and ethnic diversity (pp. 143-173). Cham, Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20095-8_8

  • Ng, T. K., Wang, K. W., & Chan, W. (2017). Acculturation and cross-cultural adaptation: The moderating role of social support. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 59, 19-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2017.04.012

  • Nguyen, A.-M. D., Jefferies, J., & Rojas, B. (2018). Short term, big impact? Changes in self-efficacy and cultural intelligence, and the adjustment of multicultural and monocultural students abroad. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 66, 119-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2018.08.001

  • Ni, L., & Wang, Q. (2011). Anxiety and uncertainty management in an intercultural setting: The impact on organisation-public relationships. Journal of Public Relations Research, 23(3), 269-301. https://doi.org/10.1080/1062726X.2011.582205

  • Quin, D., Heerde, J. A., & Toumbourou, J. W. (2018). Teacher support within an ecological model of adolescent development: Predictors of school engagement. Journal of School Psychology, 69, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2018.04.003

  • Robinson, O., Somerville, K., & Walsworth, S. (2019). Understanding friendship formation between international and host-national students in a Canadian university. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 13(1), 49-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/17513057.2019.1609067

  • Shu, F., Ahmed, S. F., Pickett, M. L., Ayman, R., & McAbee, S. T. (2020). Social support perceptions, network characteristics, and international student adjustment. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 74, 136-148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2019.11.002

  • Su, F., & Wood, M. (2012). What makes a good university lecturer? Students’ perceptions of teaching excellence. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 4(2), 142-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/17581181211273110

  • Stacey, V. (2019, September 27). Malaysia to recalibrate its strategy as 200k int’l student target by 2020 looks unlikely. The Professional in International Education News. https://thepienews.com/news/malaysia-to-recalibrate-strategy-as-200000-target-looks-out-of-reach/

  • Wen, W., Hu, D., & Hap, J. (2018). International students’ experiences in China: Does the planned reverse mobility work? International Journal of Educational Development, 61, 204-212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.03.004

  • West, J. (2018, February 9). Growth of international student numbers in higher education. QS Quacquarelli. https://www.qs.com/growth-international-students-higher-education/

  • Yee, C. P., Yean, T. S., Yi, J., & Kam, A. (2018). Verifying international students’ satisfaction framework for the development of MISS-Model in Malaysia. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 26(S), 1-18.

  • Yeoh, O. C. (2017, March 1). Bringing in more quality international students. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/news/2017/03/216542/bringing-more-quality-international-students

  • Yusoff, Y. M. (2012). Self-efficacy, perceived social support, and psychological adjustment in international undergraduate students in a public higher education institution in Malaysia. Journal of Studies in International Education, 16(4), 353-371. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315311408914

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Recent Articles