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Use of “First Semester Education” to Identify and Tackle the Transitional Challenges Faced by Indian Graduate Students in the Construction Department

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Design and Assessment of Graduate Curriculum

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1645.1 - 26.1645.7



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Paper Authors


Dhaval Gajjar Arizona State University

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Dhaval is a third generation construction professional and a Ph. D. student in Construction Management at Arizona State University’s Del E. Webb School of Construction. He is also a researcher at Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG) for 7 years that specializes in Best Value Procurement and Risk Minimization Using Performance Metrics. Dhaval is the lead researcher for our roofing manufacturer’s performance and risk minimization program. Before his involvement only 15 contractors’ performance was being measured, today he has increased it to over 500 contractors. He has been tracking the performance of sprayed poly-urethane contractors and quality of the roofs now expanding into built up roofing systems contractors. He has authored several conference proceedings and journals on roofing performance and the best value concepts. He is an active member in the International Facility Management Association Student Chapter at ASU and serves as a mentor for the Obama Scholar Program.

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Kenneth Timothy Sullivan PhD Arizona State University

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Jacob Shizuo Kashiwagi


Joshua Jason Mischung

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Graduate student researching the impact of emotional intelligence in construction management programs and the construction industry.

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Use of “First Semester Education” to identify and tackle the transitional challenges faced by Indian Graduate Students in the Construction department Over the past several decades there has been a major influx of international graduate studentsinto the United States from many countries, especially from India. Though possessing anundergraduate degree from India, many Indian students enter a US construction graduateprogram with little to no exposure to the expectations and culture of the US higher educationsystem. For these students, the transition to the education system in the United States has to beusually be made within a three week period after arrival into the US. This short period of timecan present some challenges for Indian students to acclimate to a new national culture and a neweducation system, in addition to gaining an understanding of the differences in constructionlexicon, techniques, regulatory environment, and teaching methods between India and the US.This paper focuses on identifying and analyzing the transition challenges faced by Indiangraduate students in a large US construction graduate degree program. The study surveyed andinterviewed thirty-four (34) Indian graduate students in the department. It was identified thatlanguage barriers, different construction terms, not knowing the proper culture norms forinteracting with the faculty, and feeling of inferiority or “second class citizenship” were themajor transition difficulties. In addition to an analysis of challenges, this paper also presentssolutions and recommendations for “first semester education” construction-specific actions thatwill help US construction graduate degree programs increase the probability of success of theirIndian graduate students in graduating and help them become a better construction professionalin the US or whichever country the choose to realize their careers.

Gajjar, D., & Sullivan, K. T., & Kashiwagi, J. S., & Mischung, J. J. (2015, June), Use of “First Semester Education” to Identify and Tackle the Transitional Challenges Faced by Indian Graduate Students in the Construction Department Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24975

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