Groupwork

Students doing groupworkCulturally and linguistically mixed groups can be a great learning environment.

  • Allow multicultural groups more time to complete the task as they will need time get to know how each member thinks and how to communicate effectively together.
  • Relating one part of the assessment of multicultural groups to cross-cultural skills can help students to see benefits of their heterogeneous group.
  • Designing groupwork tasks that have an international aspect where international students can bring significant benefits to their group will help group members to value each other.
  • Providing groups with an online space to discuss and develop their work may help international students to have the time and space to formulate and communicate their thoughts more effectively.
  • Dedicating class time to explore and share the benefit of heterogeneous groups will support students in viewing multiculturalism as an asset.
  • Consider establishing avenues for self and peer evaluation.

Why

The workplace is increasingly more multi-cultural and university can be a great place to learn skills to excel in that environment.

Communication is enabled not only by language but shared assumptions of what is actually meant by what is said. Creating those shared assumptions takes time and can be accelerated by making the process explicit.

Everyone works more effectively when they feel valued. This applies to groups where best outcomes are generated when everyone has something substantial to contribute.

Examples

  • A learning journal or portfolio can be used as a tool to explore the international experience of multi-cultural groups. These can be assessed and/or peer reviewed.
  • Making group formation process transparent by deciding selection criteria collaboratively helps with building cohesive groups quicker.
  • Blackboard has sophisticated group functions that allow groups to work together effectively online and for the teaching team to observe/support the process. Consider creating online group spaces for all groups.
  • The SPARK (Self-and Peer Assessment Resource Kit) system is available as a pilot in the Faculty to organise self and peer assessment online.

Further resources