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World Journal of Education ; 12(1):1-16, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2057492


This paper focuses on eight conditions that kept international master's students (IMS) in a Southern Ontario university happy and engaged in their studies during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the first phase of the Appreciative Inquiry's (AI) 4-D cycle--i.e., discovery--this doctoral study conducted 14 individual interviews and three focus group discussions to identify conditions that made the IMS students happier and more engaged despite pandemic-related challenges. The study is crucial in advancing positive experiences of IMS because existing literature has focused primarily on their challenges and problems. The study's use of AI, a strength-based theoretical and methodological approach, suggests the need to highlight the quality experiences of this minoritized group. Data revealed specific factors that brought about happiness and boosted IMS engagement in their studies, namely: financial and emotional support from family, responsive instructors, employment opportunities during the pandemic, and learning and engaging in extracurricular activities with colleagues and friends. Other conditions also proved crucial to participants' happiness and engagement in their studies, including: professionalism of non-teaching staff, the institution's learning management system and supporting online platforms, virtual access to campus software and other learning resources, and reduced travel time. Study findings aim to inform international student policy and enrich the international student experience literature.