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International Students' Housing Experience
theoretically grounded guidelines for each step of the research process, from developing
the interview protocol through data analysis. CQR is a descriptive qualitative
methodology that allows themes to emerge from the data and uses a consensus process
to develop categories and identify frequencies of categories (Hill, 2012).
We utilized focus groups for data collection. These groups were chosen for their
ability to provide dynamic information through their interactions with one another as
well as the support and empowerment that comes from group membership (Goldman,
1962; Morgan, 1988; Peters, 1993; Sim, 1998). Also, focus groups can be effective in
discussing perceptions and thoughts because many participants feel that this forum is
less threatening than one-on-one interviews (Krueger & Casey, 2000; Onwuegbuzie et
al., 2009). Thus, focus groups were ideal because participation in the study would not
only give participants a voice, but would also provide them with some support.
We conducted five focus groups with two to four participants in each group.
Via email and in person, residence life staff invited students who were enrolled in
the multicultural living-learning program to participate in a 60-minute focus group
interview. Focus group participants included 15 cisgender female international students
from a small liberal arts university in the mid-Atlantic region. We only included
female international university students because at the time of the data collection the
university was not coeducational. All participants were living in residence halls designated
as a multicultural living-learning community and shared a room with one or
more students from a different culture. Participants' demographics are summarized
in Table 1 (see page 57).
The interviewer who conducted all focus groups was an Asian American cisgender
female faculty member with expertise in international students and qualitative research.
The interviewer had experience living with roommates from a different culture
during her study abroad as an international student. The judges who conducted CQR
data analyses included one cisgender female faculty member, who was the interviewer,
and three cisgender female graduate students in a counseling psychology program.
Two were Asians with international backgrounds, one was Black/African American,
and the other was White American. All had experiences of living with roommates, and
two had experiences of living with roommates from different cultures. Finally, the auditor
was a White cisgender female psychologist with expertise in qualitative research
and in teaching multicultural counseling courses and providing counseling to college
students; she did not have the experience of living with roommates from a different
culture. The diversity of team members in terms of their international background
allows for rich discussions based on diverse perspectives (Hill, 2012). We were aware
of the potential biases and expectations based on the judges' own experiences as international
students or domestic students in residence halls. Thus, as with other qualitative
studies, the judges recorded and discussed their biases and expectations before
the data collection and analysis began. They were asked to set aside (i.e., bracket) their
biases and expectations, and they revisited and discussed the influence of their biases
and expectations on data analysis as needed throughout the process (Hill, 2012).
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