Harvesting Suggestions: A Strategy for Promoting Policies Designed to Improve Academic Life for International Students
The rise in the number of international graduate students in the United States has placed burdens on the academic community, which has responded by endeavoring to provide services such as writing support, tutoring, and counseling. These top-down responses, helpful as they may be, can be supplemented with procedures designed to determine the desires and needs of client groups as expressed by members of these groups themselves. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the operations associated with Q methodology are applicable to assisting international graduate students to articulate policy preferences that could improve the quality of their lives, and also provide decision makers with procedures for harvesting this information for purposes of implementation. In this study, recommendations designed to improve the lives of students were gathered in face-to-face interviews with a dozen geographically-diverse students, whose recommendations were converted into a Q sample (N=32) that was administered to n=23 students, who were instructed to Q sort these recommendations in terms of the extent to which they more or less approved of them. The factors that resulted revealed three vantage points: (A) Egalitarians, who mainly wish to be fairly treated, especially vis-à-vis American students; (B) Accommodationists, who wish to maintain their cultural habits and customs and for the university to adapt to its new visitors; and (C) Assimilationists, who wish to integrate into their new environment and want the university to assist in this task. This study was extended in terms of Q sorts from a half dozen key university administrators who appraised the same sample of recommendations in terms of their feasibility given budgetary, political, and other constraints. Recommendations are made based on matches between student desire and administrative assessment of what is possible, and suggestions are made concerning how the procedures employed in this study could serve as a model for similar searches for solutions in other organizational settings.