Smartphones as the Tools for South Asian International Students to Navigate Academic and Non-Academic Sites in the U.S.
My dissertation is invested in investigating how south Asian students from a Hispanic serving institution situated on a U.S. Mexico border use smartphone technologies to enhance their navigation of everyday sites in the U.S. This would primarily look at how South Asian international students from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan make use of smartphones to navigate different physical and virtual spaces, both academic and non-academic, to grapple with various complexities of their U.S. lives. The dissertation examines their user experiences and localization practices as they strive to acclimate to the U.S. setting, which to them is both physically and culturally different from their home countries. I conducted a focus group discussion and artifact-based interviews with two students from Bhutan, India, and Nepal, and three from Bangladesh. Based on those, I analyzed their user experience and localization practices to investigate how they use mobile technologies to meet their personal, educational, and professional needs and how, in the process, they adapted/tweaked the features and apps of the smartphones to accomplish their tasks and settle in. I used convenience and snowball samplings to collect my research participants. My research leans on Huatong Sun’s theoretical framework based on user localization and user experience frameworks. I used affinity diagramming and card sorting method of user journey experience to analyze my data. My research stresses that U.S. classrooms need to be more research-friendly, and academia should further invest in training both instructors and students so that they can harness maximum benefits from this technology. Next, it also emphasizes the designers of mobile technology should focus on equipping smartphones with apps and features that cater to the needs of international minority students in the U.S., among other users. This calls for embracing universal design so that users from various multicultural backgrounds can relate to this technology. Also, given the role the smartphones played in facilitating online classes during the COVID-19 and helped ensure social justice, more should be done by academia to integrate pedagogy into this technology better. My research also presses for the need for collaboration between students, designers, and instructors so that smartphone technologies can be adapted to best serve the interests of South Asian international students in the U.S.
Lohani, Suresh, "Smartphones as the Tools for South Asian International Students to Navigate Academic and Non-Academic Sites in the U.S." (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29208739.