The dissertation presents a research study designed using hermeneutic phenomenology to explore challenges of academic writing experienced by international undergraduate and graduate students admitted to a Midwest U.S. university. The study also explored the institutional level services, technological resources, and coping strategies employed by the participants to alleviate their academic writing challenges. Data were gathered from video-recorded Zoom interviews conducted with ten purposefully selected international undergraduate and graduate students, representing diverse linguistic, cultural, and academic backgrounds. The data were then analyzed following a thematic analysis approach. The study revealed that the international undergraduate students experienced academic writing challenges pertaining to content, organization, academic vocabulary, genre awareness, research papers, grammar and mechanics, and citing and referencing sources. Likewise, the challenges experienced by international graduate students included writing concisely and directly, writing critically and analytically, using academic vocabulary, and writing research papers. The study also revealed that the participants used peer feedback, teacher feedback, Writing Center feedback, library resources, technological tools, and coping strategies to alleviate their academic writing challenges. Also, the participants shared that they needed more support, guidance, empathy from their peers, instructors, and staff, and resources and more effective services to overcome their academic writing challenges. The results inform the ESL instructors, writing tutors, and ESL and EAP program directors about the challenges of academic writing faced by international students. The dissertation concludes with some recommendations on how ESL and EAP instructors, writing tutors, and different departments can better support international students to enhance their academic writing skills, and become successful in their academic endeavors.


Natalie D Rasmussen

Committee Member

Julie A Carlson

Committee Member

Glen Poupore

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership



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