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Cross-cultural collaborations in higher
education: Anticipated versus realised teacher
roles in dissolving group work tens...
?
Free-rider:
‘contributes to the group task when explicitly
prompted but minimises the effort as much
as possible; often le...
Previous work
Mittelmeier, J., Héliot, Y., Rienties, B., & Whitelock, D. (2016). Using Social Network Analysis to predict ...
Research Questions
RQ1: What role do students believe social elements play
in the success of cross-cultural group work tas...
Setting
860+ student classroom
79.3% international students from 35 countries
Large scale lectures + small tutorial discus...
Classroom clustering
Participants
20 participants from 17 countries
12 males, 8 females
Student 1, domestic student from the Netherlands:
Speaks 23 times
4 times to organise the group/activity
7 times to contri...
Coded
Themes
Teaching
elements
Social
elements
Cognitive
elements
Second coder:
κ = .710
Third coder:
κ = .843
Common themes for
Cluster 1
(high performing)
Social connections as ‘more fun’
‘For me, I think some social talk is much easier than the
academic topics, and people are...
‘Utopian’ vision of diversification
‘Everybody comes from different countries, at least at
this uni. That really helps bec...
Student agency in forming social
connections
‘I think introduction is not enough, but for tutor, I
don’t know. I think it ...
Common themes for
Cluster 2
(mid performing)
Social connections as a precursor
to productivity
‘Wasn’t there a thing in management, like the
water fountain thing? That...
Cross-cultural collaboration as
potentially awkward
‘When you are not speaking socially, you might feel
kind of rejected. ...
Teacher interventions difficult
‘I don’t really want to say all the things that
everybody used to say, like ‘everybody wor...
Common themes for
Cluster 3
(low performing)
Social connections as essential
for working together
‘I was in that situation as well when I was in a group and
I didn’t k...
Cross-cultural group work as
inherently socially awkward
‘I came in class and I was just looking at random
strangers and l...
Teacher a key role in facilitating
social connections
‘There was this one tutor…and she made criteria for us [in our
intro...
Teacher Suggestions
(from students)
Make groups
diverse
Provide
opportunities
for icebreakers
Give feedback
on group work
processes
Common suggestions
Who to
work with
What to
work on
Mixed messages
Follow-up study
Content from
host country
Content from
own country
Content from
randomly
assigned country
Same tutorial
gr...
Contact information:
Jenna Mittelmeier
Institute of Educational Technology
The Open University, UK
jenna.mittelmeier@open....
SRHE 2016 - Cross-cultural collaborations in higher education: Anticipated versus realised teacher roles in dissolving gro...
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SRHE 2016 - Cross-cultural collaborations in higher education: Anticipated versus realised teacher roles in dissolving group work tensions

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As student populations rapidly internationalise, higher education classrooms have become unique spaces for cross-cultural collaboration between diverse students. However, as previous research has highlighted tensions between different cultures on campus, one consideration is the extent to which students see their teachers playing a role in facilitating meaningful and positive communication between peers in their classrooms. To understand this, we have used robust mixed-method tools to select 20 participants from a larger classroom of 860 students to participate in an in-depth interview. Participant expectations of teacher behaviours and resources were elicited using a unique case study method to encourage in-depth discussion about sensitive topics. In our analysis of emergent themes, we compared student perspectives of teacher control in international classrooms between those of differing academic achievement levels. Our findings indicate wide variations between performance levels in students’ expectations of teacher interventions and resources, particularly in regards to scaffolding and social integration.

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SRHE 2016 - Cross-cultural collaborations in higher education: Anticipated versus realised teacher roles in dissolving group work tensions

  1. 1. Cross-cultural collaborations in higher education: Anticipated versus realised teacher roles in dissolving group work tensions Jenna Mittelmeier Institute of Educational Technology The Open University, UK Co-Authors: Bart Rienties (The Open University) Dirk Tempelaar (Maastricht University) Denise Whitelock (The Open University) @JLMittelmeier
  2. 2. ?
  3. 3. Free-rider: ‘contributes to the group task when explicitly prompted but minimises the effort as much as possible; often leading to substandard contributions’ (Strijbos & de Laat, 2010) #1 complaint of students in cross-cultural group work (Popov et al, 2012)
  4. 4. Previous work Mittelmeier, J., Héliot, Y., Rienties, B., & Whitelock, D. (2016). Using Social Network Analysis to predict online contributions: The impact of network diversity in cross-cultural collaboration. Paper presented at the Web Science 2016 conference, Hannover, Germany Social network size and diversity Student contribution quantity
  5. 5. Research Questions RQ1: What role do students believe social elements play in the success of cross-cultural group work tasks? RQ2: How does academic performance influence student views on social elements in cross-cultural group work? RQ3: How do students perceive the role of the teacher in overcoming tensions between diverse group members in cross-cultural group work?
  6. 6. Setting 860+ student classroom 79.3% international students from 35 countries Large scale lectures + small tutorial discussion groups
  7. 7. Classroom clustering Participants 20 participants from 17 countries 12 males, 8 females
  8. 8. Student 1, domestic student from the Netherlands: Speaks 23 times 4 times to organise the group/activity 7 times to contribute academic content 12 times socially Student 3, from Latin America: Speaks 6 times 1 time to organise the group/activity 2 times to contribute academic content 3 times socially Student 2, from East Asia: Speaks 2 times 0 times to organise the group/activity 2 times to contribute academic content 0 times socially Student 4, from Europe: Speaks 13 times 3 times to organise the group/activity 6 times to contribute academic content 4 times socially Student 5, from East Asia: Speaks 7 times 1 times to organise the group/activity 5 times to contribute academic content 1 times socially Visualisation
  9. 9. Coded Themes Teaching elements Social elements Cognitive elements Second coder: κ = .710 Third coder: κ = .843
  10. 10. Common themes for Cluster 1 (high performing)
  11. 11. Social connections as ‘more fun’ ‘For me, I think some social talk is much easier than the academic topics, and people are more willing to speak about their daily life, for instance their hobbies, than speaking about the [group work] topic. It’s boring.’ (Participant 17, female, GPA = 7.33, Chinese) ‘It’s boring to be with always the same people because you have nothing to tell them if they are from the same places and the same country.’ (Participant 20, male, GPA = 8.67, Belgian)
  12. 12. ‘Utopian’ vision of diversification ‘Everybody comes from different countries, at least at this uni. That really helps because you just get a larger point of view. You cannot only look at yourself as yourself, but you can look at yourself in the world. I don’t know how to explain it, but you feel part of something. You feel like you belong.’ (Participant 13, female, GPA = 7.83, Italian)
  13. 13. Student agency in forming social connections ‘I think introduction is not enough, but for tutor, I don’t know. I think it depends on the students themselves. I don’t think the tutor can do much to help this.’ (Participant 17, female, GPA = 7.33, Chinese)
  14. 14. Common themes for Cluster 2 (mid performing)
  15. 15. Social connections as a precursor to productivity ‘Wasn’t there a thing in management, like the water fountain thing? That people in the break room, they learn more, and get more work done, because they got to know each other in the break room and socially, than just working. So I mean, if that works in the real life, why wouldn’t that work in the classroom?’ (Participant 18, male, GPA = 5.00, Latin American)
  16. 16. Cross-cultural collaboration as potentially awkward ‘When you are not speaking socially, you might feel kind of rejected. I think you’re always feeling that awkward moment when you are not speaking with people. I think that maybe the others don’t know how to get on with them [those who are quiet], because they are not speaking so they will not be willing to speak to them. It will always be weird.’ (Participant 2, male, GPA = 6.33, Swedish)
  17. 17. Teacher interventions difficult ‘I don’t really want to say all the things that everybody used to say, like ‘everybody work together,’ blah, blah, blah. I mean, so many advice and so many times we have heard everything from high school teachers, from tutors, from professors. But the thing is, it doesn’t really make a change in people’s minds.’ (Participant 15, male, GPA = 5.67, Greek)
  18. 18. Common themes for Cluster 3 (low performing)
  19. 19. Social connections as essential for working together ‘I was in that situation as well when I was in a group and I didn’t know anyone and they…all knew other and didn’t want to do anything with me or something. I didn’t feel as part of the group. I think that’s the main goal of a group: to get to know each other, to feel comfortable in that group.’ (Participant 16, male, GPA = 4.83, German) ‘This tutorial…I’m not as close with them and I don’t feel as comfortable with them. I’m less likely to put myself out there. I’ll restrict myself just a tiny bit because there’s something subconsciously holding me back.’ (Participant 11, female, GPA = 4.33, Dutch)
  20. 20. Cross-cultural group work as inherently socially awkward ‘I came in class and I was just looking at random strangers and like, “I have to work with them for eight weeks?” And we were sitting there like “oh my god” and we were all, like, having the same feeling.’ (Participant 16, male, GPA = 4.83, German)
  21. 21. Teacher a key role in facilitating social connections ‘There was this one tutor…and she made criteria for us [in our introductions] like, “You have to say your name, you have to say your age, and you have to tell us the most embarrassing moment that happened to you in [university name]”… But because of that, because of how she made us do these things, we really got along good.’ (Participant 8, male, GPA = 3.33, Eastern European) ‘Well, our first tutor was awesome. He was there during the groups and talking to us, asking our plans for the weekend. Now…we have absolutely no personal contact with them [my current tutors]. They never ask, ‘how was your weekend?’ That’s just a small sentence but it makes you more comfortable.’ (Participant 10, female, GPA = 3.83, Eastern European)
  22. 22. Teacher Suggestions (from students)
  23. 23. Make groups diverse Provide opportunities for icebreakers Give feedback on group work processes Common suggestions
  24. 24. Who to work with What to work on Mixed messages
  25. 25. Follow-up study Content from host country Content from own country Content from randomly assigned country Same tutorial group members Mixed tutorial group members Randomised control trial study with 982 participants
  26. 26. Contact information: Jenna Mittelmeier Institute of Educational Technology The Open University, UK jenna.mittelmeier@open.ac.uk @JLMittelmeier
  • RonnieChau1

    May. 15, 2018

As student populations rapidly internationalise, higher education classrooms have become unique spaces for cross-cultural collaboration between diverse students. However, as previous research has highlighted tensions between different cultures on campus, one consideration is the extent to which students see their teachers playing a role in facilitating meaningful and positive communication between peers in their classrooms. To understand this, we have used robust mixed-method tools to select 20 participants from a larger classroom of 860 students to participate in an in-depth interview. Participant expectations of teacher behaviours and resources were elicited using a unique case study method to encourage in-depth discussion about sensitive topics. In our analysis of emergent themes, we compared student perspectives of teacher control in international classrooms between those of differing academic achievement levels. Our findings indicate wide variations between performance levels in students’ expectations of teacher interventions and resources, particularly in regards to scaffolding and social integration.

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