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OMNES : The Journal of Multicultural Society2011. Vol.2 No.1, pp.

56-84

Article

Korean International Students Coping Resources and Psychological Adjustment in Australia

Anita S. Mak & Inkuk Kim*


1)

Abstract
Despite a large and increasing number of Korean international students in Australia, there has been limited research on their cross-cultural psychological experiences. The present study aimed to examine the relative contributions of various coping resources to explaining the variation in depressive symptom - an indicator of psychological adjustment - among Korean students in Australia. Based on previous research on cross-cultural adjustment, it was hypothesized that lower levels of English proficiency, social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness would be predictive of more depressive symptoms. Participants in the present study were 185 Korean international tertiary students (99 males, 85 females and one unknown) in Sydney and Canberra. One hundred and eighteen participants completed a self-report questionnaire in Sydney and 67 participants completed it in Canberra. Results obtained showed that lower levels of social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness predicted more depressive symptoms, but English proficiency was not associated with depressive symptoms. Regression analysis revealed that low levels of social connectedness and academic self-efficacy were the best predictors of Korean students depressive symptoms. Mediating analyses showed that the relationships between social support and depressive symptoms and between intercultural social self-efficacy and depressive symptoms were fully mediated by social connectedness. The implications of the present study include the need for future research and programs to enhance Korean and other international tertiary students cross-cultural coping resources, especially social connectedness, in a multicultural social environment. Key wordsAcculturation, Korean, International Students, Self-efficacy, Social connectedness
* University of Canberra, Australia.

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The number of international students in Australia has increased rapidly over the last two decades. According to Linacre (2007), the number of students visiting Australia for educational purposes doubled between 1995 and 2005, and increased more than tenfold between 1985 and 2005. Department of Immigration and Citizenship [DIAC] (2010) also demonstrated the continual increase in the number of international students between 2001 and 2009. However, Phillimore and Koshy (2010) revealed that the number has started to decrease in 2010 due to a variety of factors such as a stronger Australian dollar and substantial changes to skilled migration policy. Koreans substantially contributed to the growth of international students. Korea was the third largest source country of international students in 2010, after China and India (DIAC, 2010). Australian Education International [AEI] (2010) also revealed that 6,985 Korean international tertiary students were enrolled in Australia in 2009, making Korea the sixth largest source country of international tertiary students. The number of Korean international tertiary students gradually increased between 2002 and 2008 (AEI, 2009). In 2009, it further increased by 11.4 percent compared to the year before (AEI, 2010). Korea shares some cultural similarities with other Asian countries, while possessing its distinctive cultural characteristics. For example, according to Kim et al. (2001), in the United States, migrants from Korea differed from those from the Philippines, in that the former tended to adhere more strongly to traditional Asian values such as emotional self-control. Despite the large number of Korean international students and the difference in cultures between Koreans and other Asians (Kim, et al., 2001), little research has focussed on the acculturation experiences and psychological health of Korean international students in Australia (Choi, 1997). The original research reported in this article was designed to gain a better understanding of the types of cross-cultural coping resources that are important for understanding the psychological adjustment of Korean international students in Australia.

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Korean International Students


Korean culture, generally classified as being high on collectivism, values interdependence and harmony, while Australian culture, characterized by individualism, tends to emphasize independence (Lee & Jablin, 1992; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). These cultural differences have a negative effect on the establishment and maintenance of close relationships with host nationals (Barker, et al., 1991). According to Cross (1995), international students who are high in collectivism tend to emphasize close relationships and feel disappointed when interacting with those who are highly individualistic. As a result, students from Korea struggle when joining class discussions and when endeavouring to form close relationships with peers and teachers (Choi, 1997). Korean students reported that they experienced more difficulties in interacting with Australians than in studying, and regarded their relationships with Australian peers and teachers as unsatisfactory and superficial (Choi, 1997). This fundamental cultural difference also hinders the effectiveness of Korean international students academic activities (Choi, 1997). Korean students, unlike students from individualistic countries, held the collective belief that it was the responsibility of teachers and students to maintain class harmony. Teachers were expected to give students an equal opportunity to participate in class and students should show respect for other students and not interrupt class progression (Choi, 1997). For these reasons, Korean international students may seem passive in class.

Cross-Cultural Adaptation
International students need to adjust to a new environment and face a variety of adjustment difficulties involving a foreign host language, a new educational system, different customs and norms, financial concerns and racial discrimination (Lee, et al., 2004). According to Lee and colleagues, the stress generated by the process of adjustment to a new culture is referred to as acculturative stress. Those who suffer from it are likely to experience physical and mental problems (Constantine, et al., 2004; Crockett, et al., 2007).

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Cross-cultural adaptation can be broadly divided into psychological and sociocultural adjustment (Searle & Ward, 1990). Psychological adjustment involves coping with acculturative stress and generally reflects psychological and physical health, while sociocultural adjustment involves individuals competence in managing daily tasks in a new world (Berry, 2006). As psychological adjustment is related to emotional and physical wellbeing, levels of depressive symptoms are often used as an indicator of psychological adjustment (Lee, et al., 2004; Neil & Mak, 2007). Appraisal of the environmental changes, coping strategies and coping resources as well as the cultural distance between the country of origin and that of the receiving country could affect the amount of perceived stress and psychological adjustment (Berry, 2006). International students who have effective coping strategies, coping resources and positive stress appraisal adjust to the new environment without much acculturative distress, while other students who lack such strategies and resources might experience greater acculturative stress and are vulnerable to high anxiety and depressive symptoms (Berry, 2006; Neil & Mak, 2007).

Coping Resources
According to Holaban and colleagues (1997), coping resources are associated with psychological adjustment directly and indirectly. Possession of high levels of coping resources could contribute to psychological wellbeing directly regardless of the perceived levels of stress. Coping resources could also affect psychological wellbeing indirectly by influencing an individuals coping responses under a high level of perceived stress. It appears that coping resources are especially important for understanding the psychological adjustment of acculturating international students from a particular country of origin, as cultural distance is fixed and there could be direct and indirect effects of coping resources on wellbeing, especially under perceptions of high stress. This research was designed to focus on the coping resources highly relevant to international students, such as social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness, as well as English proficiency.

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English proficiency. Host language and communication proficiency are vital for sociocultural adaptation (Masgoret & Ward, 2006). For international students, host language proficiency is important for achieving their academic purpose and establishing a social network with host nationals. Language difficulties in studying and participating in class discussions affect international students academic performance (Yeh & Inose, 2003). Furthermore, language barriers prevent international students from having social interaction with host students (Yeh & Inose, 2003). Host language proficiency could contribute to international students psychological adjustment (McLachlan & Justice, 2009; Smer, Poyrazli & Grahame, 2008). Poyrazli, et al. (2002) found that language proficiency was a unique contributor to the adjustment of international graduate students. Neil and Mak (2007) further found a small but significant association between English proficiency and psychological adjustment among Asian international students in Australia; however, that effect became non-significant when intercultural social factors were also taken into consideration. Social support. Social support refers to the nature of the interactions occurring in social relationships, especially how these are evaluated by the person as to their supportiveness (Sarason, et al., 1983, as cited in Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 249). Social support confers benefits to acculturating individuals psychological adjustment through direct and buffering effects (Crockett, et al., 2007; Graziano, et al., 2009). Social support significantly predicted depressive symptoms and adjustment among international students in the United States (Smer, et al., 2008; Yeh & Inose, 2003). Neil and Mak (2007) also found that social support is predictive of depressive symptoms among Asian international students in Australia. Lee, et al. (2004) found a significant buffering effect (but not a direct effect) of social support among Korean international students in the United States. Self-efficacy and adjustment. Self-efficacy refers to an individuals sense of competence in managing their internal and external demands (Bandura, et al., 1996). Self-efficacy was found to be positively linked with performance (Carmona, et al., 2008; Karademas, 2006; Osman-Gani & Rockstuhl, 2009) and wellbeing. A sense of incompetence causes distressing emotional states and reduces the effectiveness of ones cognitions and behaviors

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(Maddux, 1995). Furthermore, Maddux and Meier (1995) argued that individuals with strong self-efficacy, not being seriously anxious and dependent, are able to meet the challenges of stressful events. Intercultural social self-efficacy. According to Fan and Mak (1998), intercultural social self-efficacy refers to peoples beliefs about their ability to carry out intercultural social interaction. Social self-efficacy has been found to contribute to social adjustment of international students (Gong & Fan, 2006; Li & Gasser, 2005). In particular, intercultural social self-efficacy may increase social contact with host nationals, and in turn increase opportunities for cultural learning and thereby cross-cultural social adjustment (Li & Gasser, 2005). Interpersonal stress in intercultural settings is a major determinant of life stress among international students (Misra, et al., 2003), while self-efficacy is closely related to psychological health (Muris, 2002). Therefore, intercultural self-efficacy is possibly one of the most important coping resources in cross-cultural psychological adjustment. Neil and Mak (2007) reported that among Asian international students in Australia, intercultural social self-efficacy was inversely related to depressive symptoms. In addition, Lin & Betz (2009) found that social self-efficacy in the host language setting of Chinese and Taiwanese international students in the United States was negatively linked with acculturation stress. In contrast, social self-efficacy in native language settings was not linked with acculturation stress (Lin & Betz, 2009). Academic self-efficacy. Academic self-efficacy refers to students beliefs in their competence to control their learning and academic activities (Bandura, 1993). Academic self-efficacy is positively associated with academic adjustment and performance (Carroll, et al., 2009; Ferla, et al., 2009). Individuals who have a strong sense of personal competence set higher goals, and they are more devoted, persistent and emotionally adaptive (Poyrazli, et al., 2002). As the main purpose of becoming an international student is studying and gaining a qualification for the future, academic self-efficacy is possibly one of the most important coping resources facilitating international students psychological adjustment. Academic self-efficacy has been found to be associated with psychological adjustment (Singley, et al., 2010; Vecchio, et al., 2007).

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According to the longitudinal study by Chemers, et al. (2001) of first year university students, academic self-efficacy was linked to students adjustment and accomplishments. Poyrazli et al. (2002) also demonstrated that academic self-efficacy made a unique contribution to the variance in general adjustment levels among graduate international students. In addition, academic self-efficacy was shown to be reciprocally associated with positive affect (Lent, et al., 2009). Social connectedness. Social connectedness is another potentially important factor in psychological adjustment of international students. Social connectedness refers to the subjective awareness of being in a close relationship with the social world (Lee & Robbins, 1998, p. 338). Social connectedness has a pervasive influence on individuals feeling, thinking and behavior, especially in social interactions (Lee & Robbins, 1998). Individuals with a high sense of social connectedness are more able to deal with their needs and emotions effectively. This suggests that a sense of social connectedness enhances psychological health (Hill, 2006). Social connectedness contributes to a reduction in acculturative distress. Social connections are helpful in managing stress for international students who face difficulties in adjusting to a new world (Leung, 2001; Yeh & Inose, 2003). Duru (2008) also claimed that a real sense of social connectedness can have a positive effect on students adjustment to university by providing greater social and academic opportunities. Therefore, students who succeeded in creating social connections demonstrated better adjustment to the new environment than those who did not succeed in creating such connections (Duru, 2008; Yeh & Inose, 2003). In addition, social connectedness, both in mainstream society and in the ethnic community, was positively associated with life satisfaction and positive affect among 188 Korean immigrants in the United States (Yoon, et al., 2008). Social support and intercultural social self-efficacy may impact on international students psychological adjustment through social connectedness in the multicultural host environment. The direct effect of social support is related to being socially integrated and experiencing self-worth (Cohen & Wills, 1985). The nature of the direct effect seems similar to the nature of social connectedness. It was argued that supportive relationships im-

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prove a sense of social connectedness (Sarason, Sarason & Shearin, 1986, as cited in Lee & Robbins, 1998). Furthermore, intercultural social self-efficacy contributes to sociocultural and psychological adjustment by enhancing social networks with host nationals (Gong & Fan, 2006; Li & Gasser, 2005). It is conceivable that greater social support and levels of intercultural social self-efficacy would enhance a sense of social connectedness. In the case of Korean international students, the effects of social support and intercultural social self-efficacy on the students depressive symptoms could be mediated by their perceptions of social connectedness in their current environment.

The Present Study


The primary aim of the present study was to investigate the unique contributions of English proficiency and the individual coping resources to depressive symptoms among Korean international students. Previous research on acculturation in the United States has examined the relationships between English proficiency and social support and psychological wellbeing among Korean international students (Lee, et al., 2004; Shin, et al., 2007). However, the authors have not identified published research on the effects of intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness on the mental health of such students. Extending from previous investigations, it was hypothesized that lower levels of English proficiency, social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness would be predictive of higher levels of depressive symptoms. A secondary research aim, related to the primary aim, was to explore the possible indirect effects of social support and social self-efficacy on international students depressive symptoms through social connectedness. Based on previous research on cross-cultural adjustment (Gong & Fan, 2006; Li & Gasser, 2005; Sarason, Sarason & Shearin, 1986, as cited in Lee & Robbins, 1998), it was hypothesized that social connectedness would mediate the effects of social support and intercultural social self-efficacy on depressive symptoms.

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Method
Pa rticipants
In the present study, 185 Korean international students from various tertiary institutions in Sydney and Canberra (with over 88 percent from nine universities) participated in the study. Over 36 percent of the participants (n = 67) completed the questionnaire in Canberra while 63.78 percent (n = 118) completed it in Sydney. Twenty-nine out of 88 surveys distributed with reply-paid envelopes were posted back from Sydney. The remaining surveys were collected in person. The final group of participants consisted of 99 male (M = 23.71 years, SD = 3.76 years), 85 female (M = 23.01 years, SD = 3.85 years) and 1 unknown. The average length of stay in Australia was 3.91 (SD = 3.15) years, ranging from one month to 20 years. Of the participants, 83.7 percent (n = 139) were undergraduate students.

Measures
Demographics. Demographics include items such as gender, age, name of institution, year enrolled in, country of birth, length of stay in Australia, and residential status. The information on the students country of birth and their residential status was used to confirm the respondents Korean international student status. English Proficiency. A four-item measure of English proficiency was used to assess participants subjective fluency in writing, reading, and speaking in English and English comprehension on 6-point Likert-type scales from (1) Very Limited to (6) Extremely Well (Mak, 2009). Overall English language scores were calculated by averaging the scores of the four items. Higher scale scores indicate higher level of perceived host language proficiency. Mak (2009) found that the measure for English proficiency had satisfactory internal reliability ( = 0.78). In the current study, the English language proficiency scale had excellent internal consistency reliability at = 0.93. Social Support. A seven-item measure was used to assess social support received by international students. Participants were asked to indicate the extent of their perceived support

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from a variety of sources, on six-point Likert-type scales from (1)Strongly Disagree to (6) Strongly Agree. Three items reflected social support from non-host sources (e.g., family, conational friends and other international students), while four other items reflected social support from host national sources (e. g., Australian friends, lecturers, the international student office and other university staff members). The items of social support from host nationals were adapted from Mak (2009) and the items of social support from non-host co-nationals were created for the present study by Mak (personal communication, March 27, 2010). Mean levels of received social support were used in this study, with higher scores indicating greater perceived social support. This scale attained satisfactory internal consistency reliability in the present study ( = 0.71). Intercultural Social Self-efficacy. Social self-efficacy in interacting with locals was measured by a 12-item measure, which had been abridged from a 20-item measure from Fan and Mak (1998). Neil and Mak (2007) have also used the 12-item adaptation. Participants rated each item on a seven-point Likerttype scale, where 1 = Very Strongly Disagree to and 7 = Very Strongly Agree. Five sentences (Items 3, 4, 5, 7, 11) were negatively worded to control for acquiescence responses. After reversing those items, the mean value was calculated, with higher scores indicating higher levels of intercultural social self-efficacy. Mak (2009) found that this measure had satisfactory internal consistency reliability ( = 0.85). In the study, the scale also attained a satisfactory reliability coefficient of 0.83. Academic Self-efficacy. Majers (2006) ten-item Beliefs in Educational Success Test (BEST) was used to assess academic self-efficacy. To achieve scale size consistency with the social self-efficacy measure, the scale size of BEST was changed from 1-100 scale to a seven-point rating scale (1=Not at All Confident and 7 = Most Confident). Accordingly, instructions were changed from Respond to each question using a 1 100 scale How confident are you to Please indicate your level of confidence in each of the tasks by circling an appropriate number(adapted from Majer, 2006). Changes of wording to each item were also made (e. g., that you will do well in future courses to Doing well in future courses). Mean academic self-efficacy scores were used in this study, with a higher score

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indicating a higher level of academic self-efficacy. Majer (2009) found that the measure showed excellent internal reliability ( =.92). The present study also found a similar reliability coefficient of 0.92. Social Connectedness. Five items for social connectedness were adapted from Lee and Robbins (1995). Participants were asked to indicate their degree of agreement with a sense of social connectedness (e. g., I feel so distant from people) on six rating scales from (1) Strongly Disagree to (6) Strongly Agree. All five items were reverse scored and then averaged, with higher scores implying a greater sense of social connectedness. Lee and Robbins (1998) found that their measure attained satisfactory internal consistency reliability ( = 0.91). In the current study, the abridged scale also attained satisfactory internal consistency reliability ( = 0.78). Depressive Symptoms. Eleven items from Israel, et al. (1989) were used to measure depressive symptoms. These items had originally been abridged from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depressed Mood Scale (CES-D) of Radloff (1977). Participants were asked to rate how often they had felt various depressive symptoms during the past week on a 3-point scale (1= Hardly Ever, 2= Some of the Time, 3= Most of the Time). Scores were averaged across the 11 items with a higher score indicating more depressive symptoms. Neil and Mak (2007) found that the measure attained satisfactory internal consistency reliability ( = 0.79). The present study also found a satisfactory level of internal consistency reliability for the scale ( = 0.75).

Procedure
The present study employed a cross-sectional survey with a purposive and a snowball sampling method. Korean international students in Sydney and Canberra were targeted. The questionnaires were distributed through a variety of channels, such as churches, universities, Korean societies in universities and Korean education agencies, and by students active in the Korean student community. The questionnaires were collected either in person or through postal return. For participants who were busy but interested in the study, a reply envelope was handed out with the questionnaire. The overall response rate for the present study

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was 76.49 %. Informed consent was part of the participation information on the first page of the questionnaire. Participants were informed that the study was voluntary, confidential and anonymous as well as approved for human research by the University of Canberra Committee for Human Ethics in Research. Furthermore, participants were informed that the survey would take 15 to 20 minutes to complete and that they could withdraw freely at any time. Participants were invited to complete the questionnaire after they had read the participation information.

Results
SPSS version 18 was used for all statistical analyses. Mean scores of scales were calculated by averaging the valid item values only if the percentage of valid items was at least 80%.

Descriptive Statistics
Table 1 displays the descriptive statistics of the measured variables. The mean values of all the variables with the exception of depressive symptoms were above the scale mid-point. The mean scale scores of social connectedness and academic self-efficacy were higher than one standard deviation above the scale mid-point. The mean scaled score of depressive symptoms was lower than one standard deviation below the scale mid-point. Distributions of the scaled variables displayed dispersion of scores. Actual ranges were similar to potential ranges. Normal probability plots, skewness and kurtosis scores were examined to check the normality of the distribution of variables. The distributions of intercultural social self-efficacy scores and depressive symptoms were slightly positively skewed, but academic self-efficacy and social connectedness scores were slightly negatively skewed. However, all of the skewness and kurtosis statistics were between -1 and +1, indicating that the assumption of normality was not violated (Allen & Bennett, 2010).

Intercorrelations
Table 2 presents intercorrelations among coping resources

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and depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were significantly negatively correlated with social support, social self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy and social connectedness. However, there was no significant correlation between English and depressive symptoms. English proficiency was significantly positively related to social self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy and social connectedness. Social variables such as social support, social connectedness and social self-efficacy were significantly positively correlated to each other and academic self-efficacy, at small to moderate effect sizes.

Multiple Regression Analysis Predicting Depressive Symptoms


Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted to estimate the relative contributions of the various coping resources to explain the variance in depressive symptoms, with the background resource English proficiency being entered initially. Social support, social self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy were subsequently entered at the second step. Finally, social connectedness, a potential mediating variable, was entered at the third step. A preliminary analysis was conducted to evaluate the assumptions of multiple regression analysis. First, the normal probability plot of standardized residuals and the scatter plot of standardized residuals against standardized predicted values indicated that the assumptions of normality, linearity and homoscedasticity of residuals were met. Second, inspection of standardized residuals, Mahalanobis distances and Cooks D (Howell, 2009; Allen & Bennett, 2010) revealed that two multivariate outliers were present. After these were excluded, Mahalanobis distance and Cooks D became satisfactory. Third, the collinearity statistics were all satisfactory, suggesting that multicollinearity is not a problem (Allen & Bennett, 2010). Table 3 presents a summary of the regression analysis results. At the first step, English proficiency was found to have no significant effect on depressive symptoms. In the second model, the coping resources of social support, social self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy were added, and each resource significantly predicted reduced levels of depressive symptoms. In the final regression model (see Table 3), the addition of

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social connectedness decreased the unique contributions of social support and social self-efficacy to zero. A low level of social connectedness was the most important predictor of depressive symptoms, exerting a medium effect size. A low level of academic self-efficacy was the only other significant predictor, exerting a small effect size. The final model explained 27 percent of the variance in depressive symptoms, F(5,177) = 13.103, p < .001. By Cohens (1988) conventions, an effect of this magnitude can be re2 garded as large (f = .37).

Social Connectedness as a Mediator between Social Support and Depressive Symptoms


Baron and Kennys (1986) procedure was subsequently employed to examine whether the relationship between social support and depressive symptoms was mediated by social connectedness. Figure 1 presents the results of the procedure with social connectedness being considered as a mediator between social support and depressive symptoms. Social support significantly predicted depressive symptoms in the first step, and social connectedness in the second step. When depressive symptoms were regressed on both social support and social connectedness in the third step, it was found that social connectedness was a significant predictor of depressive symptoms. It was also revealed that the relationship between social support and depressive symptoms became non-significant. A z-test (Sobel, 1982) showed that this relationship was significantly reduced in size, z = -3.26, p < .01. This suggests that the relationship between social support and depressive symptoms is fully mediated by the level of social connectedness.

Social Connectedness as a Mediator between Intercultural Social Self-Efficacy and Depressive Symptoms
Baron and Kennys (1986) procedure was also employed to examine whether the relationship between intercultural social self-efficacy and depressive symptoms was mediated by social connectedness. Figure 2 shows the results of the three step regression analysis with social connectedness being considered as a mediator between social self-efficacy and depressive symptoms.

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Social self-efficacy significantly predicted depressive symptoms in the first step, and social connectedness in the second step. When depressive symptoms were regressed on both social self-efficacy and social connectedness in the third step, social connectedness was a significant predictor of depressive symptoms, while the relationship between social self-efficacy and depressive symptoms became non-significant. A z-test (Sobel, 1982) showed that this relationship was significantly reduced in size, z = 4.74, p < .001. This suggests that the relationship between social self-efficacy and depressive symptoms is fully mediated by the level of social connectedness.

Discussion
The main hypothesis, that lower levels of English proficiency, social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy and social connectedness would predict more depressive symptoms, was only partially supported. The lack of an association between English language proficiency and Korean international students depressive symptoms contrasts with previous research findings (e.g., Poyrazli, et al., 2002). A possible explanation for the non-significant relationship may be that the participants perceived English skills were generally sufficiently proficient. Indeed, only seven participants reported that their English proficiency was limited. An alternative interpretation of this finding is that English language proficiency is important for academic adjustment (such as indicated by a positive association between English proficiency and academic self-efficacy in this study), but much less so for international students emotional adjustment. The coping resources of social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, and academic self-efficacy, were all significantly correlated with depressive symptoms. The finding is in line with research by Smer et al. (2008) and Yeh and Inose (2003), which found social support to be a predictor of mental health symptoms. Consistent with previous research (Lin & Betz, 2009; Neil & Mak, 2007), intercultural social self-efficacy was found to be related to psychological adjustment. The present finding that academic self-efficacy was a significant correlate of depressive

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symptoms also corroborated with previous research findings (Chemers, et al., 2001; Lent, et al., 2009). These results provide evidence for the positive effects of coping resources on Korean international students wellbeing, suggesting that coping resources such as social support, social self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy should be enhanced to support the psychological adjustment of Korean students. When social connectedness was also considered in the final regression analysis model, only academic self-efficacy and social connectedness significantly predicted depressive symptoms. The effects from social support and social self-efficacy became nonsignificant, with their unique contributions reduced to zero. This indicates that social connectedness is a more important variable in the prediction of depressive symptoms than social support and intercultural social self-efficacy. Furthermore, the unique contribution of social connectedness was far greater than the contribution of academic self-efficacy. Thus, improving social connectedness would contribute more to the psychological adjustment of Korean students than improving academic self-efficacy. The second research hypothesis, that social connectedness would mediate the impacts of social support and intercultural social self-efficacy on depressive symptoms, was supported. The effects of social support and intercultural social self-efficacy on depressive symptoms were fully mediated by social connectedness. This finding emphasizes the importance of social connectedness as a mediator variable among social coping resources. This finding is somewhat different from Yeh and Inoses (2003) finding that social support and social connectedness were both significant predictors when they were added together in the final model. Differences in social support measure, target population and host country may have rendered different results in the two studies.

Limitations
A methodological limitation of the present study has been the use of a cross-sectional survey design, so that it was not possible to ascertain the temporal sequence of variables and the directionality of relationships between variables. Longitudinal studies are needed to explore the temporal sequence of the coping resources and depressive symptoms and the temporal variability of

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the relationships found in the present study. Another limitation of the present study is that the purposive and snowball sampling methods may have led to sample bias. Just as severely maladapted students may not have been accessed, those well-connected students who have many friends were more likely to have participated in the study. Therefore, the effect of social connectedness on depressive symptom may have been affected by this probable bias. Moreover, the geographic locations for data collection were restricted to Sydney and Canberra. Future research could access more representative samples from different parts of Australia, and consider using in-depth qualitative research with Korean students presenting to health and counseling services.

Future Research
Additionally, future studies could examine separately the effects of social support from co-nationals, other international students and host nationals on Korean students cross-cultural adjustment. A separate examination of social support sources would more effectively identify the type of student services relevant for Korean international students psychological adjustment. Future research could also investigate the effects of the coping resources on psychological adjustment among Korean adolescent international students in secondary schools. According to Cho and Haslam (2010), Korean adolescent international students levels of depression tend to be significantly higher than American indigenous and Korean immigrants in the United States. Moreover, these researchers found that a considerable proportion of the students was suffering from clinically significant levels of depression and suicide risk. Adolescent students from Korea may be more vulnerable to depression than their tertiary counterparts. Therefore, an investigation into the effects of the coping resources should be conducted on adolescent students to minimize their risk of depression and suicide. While the present study has identified social connectedness to be a mediator in the relations between social support (as well as intercultural social self-efficacy) and Korean international students mental health, further research could investigate additional intervening variables, such as coping responses, which could me-

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diate the effects of cross-cultural coping resources on acculturating students psychological health. Additional research in this area could explore other types of cross-cultural adaptation outcomes, including academic and sociocultural adjustment outcomes among Korean international students. Psychological adjustment and sociocultural adjustment are predicted by different variables although the extent of cultural distance and adaptive acculturation strategy predict both adjustments (Berry, 2006). While psychological adjustment is generally predicted by personal factors, the number of stressful life changes and social variables, sociocultural adjustment is generally predicted by the amount of host cultural knowledge, the frequency of contact with host nationals and intergroup attitudes (Berry, 2006). An examination of predictors related to sociocultural adjustment would generate more insight into cross-cultural adaptation among Korean international students and would positively contribute to their sociocultural adjustment.

Implications for Student Services and Programs


Present findings imply that the psychological adjustment of Korean international students may be improved by enhancing their coping resources, particularly social connectedness. While English language proficiency was found to be linked to the students academic self-efficacy, English proficiency alone was not associated with the students reports of depressive symptoms. Present implications include the need to promote diverse and active student clubs in tertiary education institutions and to encourage Korean international students to be actively involved in the clubs activities. Club activities may engage Korean students in higher levels of informal interactions with students from other countries, improve social integration, and increase feelings of social connectedness on multicultural campuses such as those in Australia. Tertiary educational institutions could consider rewarding student clubs that actively recruit and encourage international students to participate and interact with other other. The findings of the present study also suggest the need to provide intercultural social skills programs, such as the EXCELL (or Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership) Program (Mak & Barker, 2004), to Korean international students

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in English-speaking countries. The EXCELL Program has been found to improve social interaction skills, intercultural social self-efficacy, and cross-cultural friendships in multicultural educational environments (Mak & Barker, 2004; Mak & Buckingham, 2007). Korean students may gain benefits in enhancing their social self-efficacy through this program. These improvements could in turn help Korean students establish and maintain friendships with host students, and instill in them a sense of social connectedness. The present results further suggest the need to establish and promote peer mentoring programs for new Korean and other international students adapting to a different educational system. Mentors whether local or overseas-born - who are familiar with the host educational system and have experience in the courses being undertaken by Korean students, may help them navigate in an unfamiliar academic environment. Peer mentoring programs that provide regular meetings between mentors and mentees were found to enhance university students achievements (Fox & Stevenson, 2006; Rodger & Tremblay, 2003). As academic performance is the primary determinant of academic self-efficacy, Korean and other international students academic self-efficacy may be enhanced by peer mentoring programs. Regular meetings between mentors and student mentees could further foster a sense of social support and social connectedness in a multicultural educational environment.

Conclusion
In conclusion, the present study has identified the relevance of various coping resources - social support, intercultural social self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy, and particularly social connectedness to the psychological adjustment of Korean international tertiary students in Australia. Moreover, social connectedness was found to have fully mediated the effects of intercultural social self-efficacy and social support on depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the need for further research on Korean international students cross-cultural adjustment and for student services and programs designed to improve students coping resources, particularly social connectedness and academic self-efficacy.

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Table 1. Descriptive Statistics for Coping Resources and Depressive Symptoms. Range Variable English proficiency Social support Social self-efficacy Academic self-efficacy Social connectedness Depressive symptoms
a

N 185 185 185 184 184 184

M 3.85 3.68 4.57 5.12 4.51 1.63

SD .89 .81 .83 .98 .92 .32

a .93 .71 .83 .92 .78 .75

Potential Actual Skewa Kurtb 1.0-6.0 1.0-6.0 1.0-7.0 1.0-7.0 1.0-6.0 1.0-3.0 1.0-6.0 1.7-6.0 2.3-7.0 .10 .19 .35 -.03 .01 .20 .28 -.24 -.39

1.4-7.0 -.44 1.8-6.0 -.46 1.1-2.6 .50

SE Skewness = .18. bSE Kurtosis = .36.

Table 2. Intercorrelations between Coping Resources and Depressive Symptoms. Variable 1. English proficiency 2. Social support 3. Social self-efficacy 4. Academic self-efficacy 5. Social connectedness 6. Depressive symptoms
*p < .05. **p < .01.

1 --

2 .02 --

3 .18* .15* --

4 .27** .23** .33** --

5 .16* .26** .45** .26** --

6 -.09 -.24** -.25** -.27** -.49** --

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Table 3. Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Predicting Depressive Symptoms. Depressive symptoms Variable Step 1 English proficiency Step 2 English proficiency Social support Social self-efficacy Academic self-efficacy Step3 English proficiency Social support Social self-efficacy Academic self-efficacy Social connectedness
*p < .05. **p < .001.

B -.03 -.00 -.07 -.06 -.06 .01 -.04 .00 -.05 -.15

SE B .03 .03 .03 .03 .03 .02 .03 .03 .02 .03

sr2 .00 .00 .03 .02 .03 .00 .00 .00 .02 .14

R2

-.09 -.01 -.18* -.16* -.18* .02 -.10 .01 -.15* -.43**

.01

.13

.12**

.27

.14**

Social Support

-.24*(-.13)

Depressive Symptoms

.26**

-.45**

Social Connectedness
Note: Values are standardised regression coefficients. The value in the parenthesis indicates a standardized regression coefficient when the mediator was added in the final model. For the final model, R2 = .25, F(2,180) = 30.21, p < .001. *p < .01. **p < .001.

Figure 1. The Mediating Effect of Social Connectedness between Social Support and Depressive Symptoms.

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Social Self-Efficacy

-.25*(-.03)

Depressive Symptoms

.45**

-.47**

Social Connectedness
Note: Values are standardized regression coefficients. The value in the parenthesis indicates a standardized regression coefficient when the mediator was added in the final model. For the final model, R2 = .24, F(2, 180) = 28.11, p < .001. *p < .01. **p < .001.

Figure 2. The Mediating Effect of Social Connectedness between Social Self-efficacy and Depressive Symptoms.

Biographical Note
Anita Mak is Professor of Psychology and currently Head of Discipline at the Faculty of Health, University of Canberra (UC). An immigrant and former international student from Hong Kong to Australia, Anita is a Fellow of the International Academy of Intercultural Research. She has published extensively in her research areas of acculturation, intercultural interactions, intercultural training evaluation, adolescent mental health, and work-related stress. Anita is co-developer of the EXCELL (Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership) Program, an evidence-based program for developing students and immigrants sociocultural competencies. EXCELL has been introduced into over 100 institutions nationally and internationally. E-mail: Anita. Mak@canberra.edu.au Inkuk Kim was born in the Republic of Korea and came to Australia for his tertiary studies in 2005. As an international student, he has experienced firsthand a range of difficulties in adjusting to a new culture. Despite numerous challenges, he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the end of 2009 at the University of New South Wales. He further earned a Psychology Honours degree at the end of 2010 at the University of Canberra, graduating with a High Distinction for his Honours thesis, on which this article has been based. E-mail: chris.kim.ik@gmail.com