Perceived discrimination and international students' learning: An empirical investigation

Corinne M. Karuppan, Missouri State University
Mahua Bararib, Missouri State University


At a time when the number of internationally mobile students worldwide has been growing steadily, the US share of this market has been declining. Since, as it is often claimed, international students are the best ambassadors for their host countries, an effective recruitment strategy is to enhance their learning experience, with the expectation that others will hear about it. In a post 9/11 environment, we focus on the importance of non-discriminatory environments to bring about successful learning outcomes, which we construe as academic performance and perceived quality of educational experience. We hypothesise that student engagement acts as a mediator in this relationship. We also investigate the moderating effect of perceived English proficiency in the relationship between discrimination and engagement. We find that (1) perceived discrimination has a strong, negative impact on educational experience, (2) the mediation primarily occurs through active and collaborative learning and (3) perceived English proficiency dampens the negative effects of discrimination on engagement. Our findings have important implications for university administrators involved in recruitment efforts. © 2011 Association for Tertiary Education Management and the L H Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management.