Date of Graduation

Summer 2018


Master of Science in Chemistry



Committee Chair

Gautam Bhattacharyya


English language learners, bilingual learners, general chemistry, chemistry education research, science education

Subject Categories

Other Chemistry | Science and Mathematics Education


Every year many international students come to study in the United States. In addition to all the challenges associated with coming to a new country, non-native English speakers (NNES) face the additional challenge of having to learn their content in English. Therefore, in this project, I recruited NNES participants from general chemistry courses since preliminary inquiries indicated that they have the largest enrollments. Because there were relatively few students at MSU who are non-native English speakers studying chemistry, I used a case study design to be able to extract generalizations from an in-depth study of a few individuals. The aim of this qualitative study was to identify the key factors that contributed to language-based difficulties these students faced while taking general chemistry courses. Data were collected in two interviews throughout one semester for each participant. Based on a cross-case analysis, the most significant challenges common to all five participants were: the lack of self-confidence in using English language, avoidance of communication, the speed of discourse, and difficulty in laboratory courses. The utility of this study should be relevant to current and future NNES, their Universities and governments and organizations who sponsor these students.


© Arwa A. Alshehri

Open Access