The Impact of Academic Advising Activities on International Students' Sense of Belonging


  • Dr. Xiao Yuan Independent Researcher at IntelliPro Group Inc, USA
  • Dr. Yang (Lydia) Yang
  • Dr. Craig M. McGill Kansas State University



Academic advisor, cross-cultural empathy, belonging, international students


Research on international students suggests they have a low sense of belonging at the U.S. institutions they attend. This study examined whether academic advisor’s cultural empathy, advisor-advisee rapport, and international students’ advising satisfaction influenced international students’ perspectives of belonging to the institution. We further examined whether cultural empathy and advisor-advisee rapport mediated the effect of advising satisfaction on international students’ sense of belonging. The cross-sectional quantitative study used a convenience sample of 209 international students enrolled in two institutions in the United States. Results indicated that cultural empathy and student advising satisfaction had a statistically significant influence on the sense of belonging, not advisor-advisee rapport, and cultural empathy mediated the effect of advising satisfaction on sense of belonging. We offered recommendations for institutions and academic advisors when working with international students.

Author Biographies

Dr. Xiao Yuan, Independent Researcher at IntelliPro Group Inc, USA

XIAO YUAN, PhD, is an Independent Researcher at IntelliPro Group Inc, USA. She is a quantitative researcher with emphasis on academic advising and international students’ sense of belonging. Email:

Dr. Yang (Lydia) Yang

YANG (LYDIA) YANG, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education, Counseling and Student Affairs at Kansas State University in the United States. Her major research interests lie in quantitative research designs, educational statistics, Q methodology, and recruitment and retention in STEM. Email:

Dr. Craig M. McGill, Kansas State University

CRAIG M. MCGILL, EdD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education, Counseling and Student Affairs at Kansas State University in the United States. He is a qualitative researcher with an emphasis on professional identity, professionalization, feminist, queer and sexuality studies, and social justice. Email:


Adams, A., Larson, J., & Barkemeyer, J. (2013). Academic advising as a profession: How

advisers in Utah view the occupation. The Mentor: Innovative Scholarship on Academic Advising, 15. Retrieved from:

Astin, A. W. (1988). Achieving educational excellence. Jossey-Bass.

Astin, A. W. (1993a). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. Oryx Press.

Astin, A. W. (1993b). What matters in college? Four years revisited. Jossey-Bass.

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.

Cadieux, R. A. J., & Wehrly, B. (1986). Advising and counseling the international student. New

Directions for Student Services, 36(1), 51–63.

Cao, C., Zhu, C., & Meng, Q. (2018). Chinese international students' coping strategies, social support resources in response to academic stressors: Does heritage culture or host context matter? Current Psychology, 40, 242-252.

Charles, H., & Stewart, M. A. (1991). Academic advising of international students. Journal of

Multicultural Counseling and Development, 19(4), 173-181.

Crain, L. Kavaliauskas (2016). Jiao Tong: A grounded theory of Chinese international students' transition to American tertiary education. (Publication No. 10160543) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Efstation, J. F., Patton, M. J., & Kardash, C. M. (1990). Measuring the working alliance in counselor supervision. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37(3), 322-329.

Faircloth, C. (2017). "Work hard, depend on yourself". The transition stories of seven international master's students at an Elite U.S. school of education. USA. (Publication No. 10619337) [Doctoral dissertation, Boston College]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Galinova, E. & Giannetti, I. (2014). Advising international Chinese students: Issues, strategies, and practices. NACADA.

Gaskin, J. (2016), Stats Tools Package.

Glass, C. R. (2018). International students' sense of belonging-locality, relationships, and power. Peer Review, 20(1), 27-30.

Glass, C. R., Kociolek, E., Wongtrirat, R., Lynch, R. J., & Cong, S. (2015). Uneven experiences:

The impact of student-faculty interactions on international students’ sense of belonging. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 353-367.

Glass, C. R. & Westmont, C. M. (2014). Comparative effects of belongingness on the academic

success and cross-cultural interactions of domestic and international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 38, 106-119.

Green, J. L. (2016). Improving graduate students' satisfaction with academic advising (Order No. 10131742). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1800286751).

Guiffrida, D. A. (2006). Toward a cultural advancement of Tinto’s theory. The Review of Higher

Education, 29(4), 451–472.

Ha, P. L., & Li, B. (2012). Silence as right, choice, resistance and strategy among Chinese ‘Me

Generation’ students: implications for pedagogy. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(2), 233-248. https://doi-org /10.1080/01596306.2012.745733

Hair, J., Black, W., Babin, B., and Anderson, R. (2010). Multivariate data analysis (7th ed.): Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Hausmann, L. R., Schofield, J. W., & Woods, R. L. (2007). Sense of belonging as a predictor of

intentions to persist among African American and White first-year college students. Research in Higher Education, 48(7), 803-839.

He, Y., & Hutson, B. (2017). Assessment for faculty advising: Beyond the service component.

NACADA Journal, 37(2), 66-75.

Hegarty, N. (2014). Where we are now–The presence and importance of international students to

universities in the United States. Journal of International Students, 4(3), 223-235.

Heng, T. (2018). Coping strategies of international Chinese undergraduates in response to

academic challenges in U.S. colleges. Teachers College Record, 120(2), 1-42.

Henze, J., & Zhu, J. (2012). Current research on Chinese students studying abroad. Research in Comparative and International Education, 7(1), 90-104.

Hoffman, M., Richmond, J., Morrow, J., & Salomone, K. (2002). Investigating “sense of belonging” in first-year college students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 4(3), 227–256.

Hu, L. & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.

Hurtado, S., & Carter, D. F. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial climate on Latino college students' sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70(4), 324-345.

Hurtado, S., Alvarado, A. R., & Guillermo-Wann, C. (2015). Creating inclusive environments:

The mediating effect of faculty and staff validation on the relationship of discrimination/bias to students’ sense of belonging. Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, 1(1), 60-80.

Hurtado, S., & Ponjuan, L. (2005). Latino educational outcomes and the campus climate. Journal

of Hispanic Higher Education, 4(3), 235-251.

Number of International Students in the United States Hits All-Time High (2019, November 18). Institute of International Education. Retrieved December 2, 2020 from

Johnson, D. R., Soldner, M., Leonard, J. B., Alvarez, P., Inkelas, K. K., Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., & Longerbeam, S. D. (2007). Examining sense of belonging among first-year undergraduates from different racial/ethnic groups. Journal of College Student Development, 48(5), 525-542.

Kennemer, C. & Hurt, B. (2013, June 20). Faculty advising. NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. Retrieved from advising.aspx

Kohle Paul, W., & Fitzpatrick, C. (2015). Advising as servant leadership: Investigating student satisfaction. NACADA Journal, 35(2), 28-35.

Lau, J., Garza, T., & Garcia, H. (2019). International students in community colleges: On-campus services used and its effect on sense of belonging. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 43(2), 109-121.

Lee, J. J., Rice. C., (2007). Welcome to America? International student perceptions of discrimination. Higher Education, 53(3), 381-409.

Lertora, I. M., Henriksen, R. C., Jr, Starkey, J., & Li, C. (2017). International students' transition experiences in rural Texas: A phenomenological study. The Qualitative Report, 22(7), 1989-2006.

Lértora, I. M., & Sullivan, J. M. (2019). The lived experiences of Chinese international students preparing for the university-to-work transition: A phenomenological qualitative study. The Qualitative Report, 24(8), 1877-1896.

Li, J. (2012). Cultural foundations of learning: East and West. Cambridge University Press.

Ma, W. (2014). Chinese international undergraduate students at a U.S. university: A mixed methods study of first-year academic experiences and achievement. (Publication No. 3619857) [Doctoral dissertation, The University of Utah]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Mataczynski, L. (2013). Advising and acculturation variables as predictors of satisfaction, sense of belonging, and persistence among international undergraduates. (Publication No. 3563948). [Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

McGill, C. M. (2018). Leaders’ perception of the professionalization of academic advising: A phenomenography. NACADA Journal, 38(1), 88-102.

McGill, C. M. (2019). The professionalization of academic advising: A structured literature review. NACADA Journal, 39(1), 89-100.

McGill, C. M. (2021). Toward a substantive theory of the academic advising process: A grounded theory. NACADA Journal, 41(1), 94-105.

McGill, C. M. & Lazarowicz, T. (2022). Supporting the development of academic advisor relational competencies. In K. L. Archambault & R. Hapes (Eds.) Comprehensive Advisor Training and Development: Practices That Deliver (3rd Ed; pp. 243-260). Stylus Publishing.

Mori, S. (2000). Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78(2), 137–144.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model.

Osterman, K. F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70, 323-367.

Rice, K. G., Choi, C.C., Zhang, Y., Villegas, J., Ye, H. J., Anderson, D., Nesic, A., & Bigler, M. (2009). International student perspectives on graduate advising relationships. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56(3), 376–391.

Rosser, V. J., Hermsen, J. M., Mamiseishvili, K., & Wood, M. S. (2007). A national study examining the impact of SEVIS on international student and scholar advisors. Higher Education, 54(4), 525-542.

Saha, N. (2018). International students' experiences with academic advising at a mid-western public research university. (Publication No.10871607). [Doctoral dissertation, Kent State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Schlosser, L. Z., & Gelso, C. J. (2001). Measuring the working alliance in advisor–advisee relationships in graduate school. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48(2), 157-167.

Schulenberg, J. & Himes, H. (2022). Academic advising scholarship: Historical and structural

influences. In C. M. McGill, S. S. Gizerian, & P. L. Hagen (Eds.) Scholarly inquiry in academic advising (pp. 11-31). Stylus.

Shaffer, L. S., Zalewski, J. M., & Leveille, J. (2010). The professionalization of academic

advising: Where are we in 2010?. NACADA Journal, 30(1), 66-77.

Singh, A. (2018). Investigating the sense of belonging for international students through a predictive model. (Publication No.10790775). [Doctoral dissertation, Iowa State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Soria, K., Troisi, J., & Stebleton, M. (2003). Reaching out, connecting within: Community service participation and sense of belonging among college students. Higher Education in Review. Retrieved from

Statistics Solutions. (2019, February 20). Confirmatory factor analysis. Statistics solutions advancement through clarity. Retrieved from

Strayhorn, T. L. (2015). Reframing academic advising for student success: From advisor to cultural navigator. NACADA Journal, 35(1):56-63.

Strayhorn, T. L. (2019). College students' sense of belonging. Routledge.

Stringer, M., MacGregor, C., & Watson, R. (2009). Department head leadership and the use of faculty credit hours as a measure of faculty workload. New Horizons in Education, 57(2), 44–58. Retrieved from

Stuart Hunter, M., & White, E. R. (2004). Could fixing academic advising fix higher education. About Campus, 9(1), 20-25.

Su, M., & Harrison, L. M. (2016). Being wholesaled: An investigation of Chinese international students' higher education experiences. Journal of International Students, 6(4), 905-919.

Thornhill, K. & Yoder, F. (2010). Teaching the soft skills necessary for building advising relationships. In J. Givans Voller, M.A. Miller, &S. L. Neste (Eds.), Comprehensive advisor training and development: Practices that deliver (2nd ed., pp. 171-178). NACADA.

Tran-Johnson, J. (2018). The role of a faculty advisor: A phenomenological study examining how faculty experiences shape their understanding of academic advising (Publication No. 10826727). [Doctoral dissertation, Drake University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Van Horne, S., Lin, S., Anson, M., & Jacobson, W. (2018). Engagement, satisfaction, and belonging of international undergraduates at US research universities. Journal of International Students, 8(1), 351-374.

Walker, R. V., Zelin, A. I., Behrman, C., & Strnad, R. (2017). Qualitative analysis of student

perceptions: “Some advisors care. Some don't.”. NACADA Journal, 37(2), 44-54.

Wangensteen, L. L. (2021). Advising LGBTQA+ international students. In C. M. McGill & J. J. Joslin (Eds.) Advising Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer College Students (pp. 229-244). Stylus.

Wang, Y. (2002). The contextual knowledge of language and culture in education: Exploring the American university experiences of Chinese graduates. (Publication No. 3067255) [Doctoral dissertation, The University of Southern Mississippi]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Wolff, L. (2014). International students' sense of belonging. (Publication No. 1567640). [Doctoral dissertation, University of the Pacific]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Wu, W. (2013). Exploring the experience of mainland Chinese undergraduate students at an American university. (Publication No. 3567369) [Doctoral dissertation, Kansas State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Yan, K., & Berliner, D.C. (2009). Chinese international students' academic stressors in the United States. College Student Journal, 43, 939-960.

Yan, K., & Berliner, D. C. (2011). An examination of individual level factors in stress and coping processes: Perspectives of Chinese international students in the United States. Journal of College Student Development, 52(5), 523-542.

Yan, L., & Pei, S. (2018). Home away from home. How international students handle difficult

and negative experiences in American higher education. Journal of International Students, 8(1), 453-472.

Yao, C. W. (2015). Sense of belonging in international students: Making the case against integration to US institutions of higher education. Faculty Publications in Educational Administration, 45. Retrieved from:

Yıldırım, Ö. (2014). Adjustment problems of international students studying in the USA: The effects of English language and academic culture. International Journal of Global Education, 3(4). Retrieved from

Zhang, Y. (2016). International students in transition: Voices of Chinese doctoral students in a US research university. Journal of International Students, 6(1), 175-194.


2023-09-22 — Updated on 2023-09-30


How to Cite

Yuan, X., Yang, Y., & McGill, C. (2023). The Impact of Academic Advising Activities on International Students’ Sense of Belonging. Journal of International Students, 14(3). (Original work published September 22, 2023)



Research Articles


Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.