Understanding Information Practices of International Student Saudi Mothers During their Studies in the USA


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Information Systems


Information Systems

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International student-mothers face the challenges of fulfilling their motherhood responsibilities while pursuing their studies abroad. Despite the rich literature related to international students, international student-mothers received less attention. This dissertations aims to fill this gap by exploring the experiences and information practices of a group of International Student Saudi Mothers (ISSMs) during different phases of their studies in the USA. These phases cover their pre-arrival to the USA, early arrival to the USA, post early arrival to the USA, and during their preparation to return to Saudi Arabia. The Translocal Meaning Making five steps framework by Allard (2015), and Allard and Caidi (2018) was used to guide this research. This dissertations expands upon the TMM framework with a new sixth step that captures the time of preparing to return to Saudi Arabia. Qualitative research methods were adopted to answer the research questions through two study phases, an online survey and semi-structured interviews. Results showed that ISSMs' daily experiences during their studies in the USA were challenging. ISSMs' information practices evolved over the course of their academic journey as their language and online search skills improved. ISSMs relied on their co- nationals in the USA as a main source of information and emotional support. Preparing to return to their home country, ISSMs shared some concerns related to readjustment for themselves and their children. At this point in their academic journey, the main challenge was accessing this information online while they were still in the USA due to a lack of online content related to Saudi Arabia. This dissertations contributes to the current literature on the information practices and technology uses of an understudied population of student-mothers during their academic journey in another cultural context. Findings from this research can inform institution officials, librarians, educators, and policymakers in both countries on how to help international students and mothers with cultural adjustment and academic achievement. Further, this dissertations informs system developers to consider culturally sensitive features for different user groups.