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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Oguzhan Tekin, Education (Applied Linguistics)

A Comprehensive Look at Intergroup Relations and Contact Between International Students and the Host Community

Date & time
Tuesday, March 26, 2024
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Nadeem Butt


Faubourg Ste-Catherine Building
1610 St. Catherine W.
Room 5.335

Wheel chair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Studying abroad offers a multitude of benefits for international students. Besides acquiring field-specific knowledge and developing their academic skills, international students can also improve their linguistic and intercultural skills through contact with host community members. However, previous research on international students has demonstrated that building such contact is not without its challenges. International students sometimes experience discrimination on- or off-campus stemming from negative attitudes on account of their linguistic as well as cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, which can impact the quantity and quality of their contact with host community members. In other words, being a distinct social group, international students may be perceived as an outgroup and elicit negative or competitive intergroup attitudes, which may consequently hinder intergroup contact. Similarly, given the reciprocal nature of social interactions, international students may also form negative attitudes toward host community members based on imagined or real experiences with them. Therefore, to address these issues, this dissertation set out to investigate variables that may lead to potentially prejudicial attitudes between international students and host community members and to examine the link between such attitudes and the quantity and quality of intergroup contact. Informed by the social identity approach and drawing on the integrated threat theory in social psychology, the dissertation consists of two studies. The findings of these studies are expected to inform future attempts to enhance the quality and quantity of contact between international students and host community members.

Study 1 focused on francophone residents of Montréal given that they constitute the linguistic and cultural majority in the city (71% based on the first official language spoken) (Statistics Canada, 2021). Drawing upon Stephan and Stephan’s (2000) integrated threat theory, the study explored potential factors that inform the attitudes of this population (i.e., dominant group) toward international students (i.e., nondominant group) enrolled in English-medium universities in the city and examined the association between francophone residents’ quality and quantity of intergroup contact and their attitudes as well as perceived threat from international students. In addition to focusing on four types of threat (i.e., realistic threat, symbolic threat, negative stereotypes, and intergroup anxiety) that have been shown to contribute to prejudice (Stephan & Stephan, 1996), this study also incorporated language attitudes (i.e., linguistic threat) as a potential predictor of attitudes, considering the study’s sociolinguistic context (i.e., Montréal). A total of 59 local francophone participants—30 non-students (i.e., working professionals) and 29 students pursuing higher education in Montréal’s English-medium universities—were recruited to complete a battery of questionnaires that target variables contributing to attitudes toward international students and elicit the quality and quantity of intergroup contact. First, host community members’ attitudes toward, perceived threat from, and the quality and quantity of contact with international students in English-medium universities were compared via independent samples t tests. Second, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine potential predictors of host community members’ attitudes toward international students. Third, the relationship between the quality and quantity of intergroup contact (i.e., behaviour) and attitudes as well as perceived threats were explored via correlational analyses.

Study 2 essentially replicated Study 1 to provide a complementary perspective from international students attending English-medium universities as members of the non-dominant group and to explore potential sources of their attitudes toward local francophone residents of Montréal (i.e., dominant group) while examining the association between the quality and quantity of intergroup contact and their attitudes toward and perceived threat from local francophone residents (both students and non-students). Participants included 60 international students from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds recruited from English-medium universities in Montréal. Students completed a battery of questionnaires adapted from Study 1, assessing their attitudes toward and perception of threat from local francophones (both students and non-students) and eliciting the quality and quantity of intergroup contact. In line with Study 1, after comparing international students’ attitudes toward, perceptions of threat from, and the quality and quantity of contact with student and non-student francophone locals via paired-sample t tests, threat variables were regressed on attitudes to reveal any potentially significant contributors, and correlational analyses were run to examine associations between the quality and quantity of intergroup contact and attitudes as well as perceived threat.

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