Maastricht University - Albertine Zanting


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Maastricht University - Albertine Zanting

  1. 1. Cultural diversity in student teams Its impact on the learning process in Student Centred Learning Mix-in Conference Maastricht University Amsterdam 23 March 2010 Albertine Zanting
  2. 2. Presentation <ul><li>What is Student Centred Learning ? </li></ul><ul><li>Starting points -> research question </li></ul><ul><li>Literature review </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><ul><li>small tutor groups discuss problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>independent collection of information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tutor guides discussion </li></ul></ul>What is Student Centred Learning/Problem Based Learning:
  4. 4. Starting points: <ul><li>SCL: learning through exchange of information and intensive interaction </li></ul><ul><li>concept SCL: diversity as source for learning </li></ul><ul><li>as result of internationalisation and introduction Ba/Ma -> increasing diversity of students’ background </li></ul>
  5. 5. Research question: <ul><li>What are the (positive and negative) effects of cultural diversity in a student population on the classroom interaction (as important element of the learning process in SCL) at a European higher education institution ? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Literature review <ul><li>Culture = a set of implicit principles and values </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural diversity has endless number of aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Culture influences interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural diversity has both beneficial and detrimental effects </li></ul><ul><li>Exisiting research on cultural diversity in European HE is limited </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural diversity in European HE is increasing </li></ul><ul><li>-> general impression of what goes on in a culturally diverse classroom -> qualitative research methodology </li></ul>
  7. 7. Research method <ul><li>3 FHML programmes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bachelor European Public Health (mainly German and Dutch students, group of Thai students) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Master Molecular Life Sciences (students with HBO and WO background, also many Belgian students) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Master Public Health for Professionals (students with work experience from all over the world) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Observation in 4 tutorial group meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with 13 students and 3 teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Research themes: open mindedness, exchange of multiple perspectives, cognitive and personal growth and development, academic skills, classroom behaviour of student/teacher, language </li></ul>
  8. 8. Findings (1) <ul><li>Main aspects of diversity playing a role in student teams: religion, gender, age, motivation, work experience, educational background, level of participation in class, langague, academic skills, nationality, personality, culture </li></ul>
  9. 9. Findings (2) <ul><li>Diversity can be beneficial: more information, unheard of experiences from workplace, unfamiliar customs in certain countries, innovative perspectives, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity takes more time to arrive ‘on the same page’, for example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accents, dialects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional/educational backgrounds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(No) experience with SCL </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Findings (3) <ul><li>Diversity can also make the exchange of information more complicated: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different language competences and uses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different communication and behaviour styles (level of participation, interaction with teacher, non verbal communication) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These differences can lead to misunderstandings, sometimes conflicts </li></ul>
  11. 11. Findings (4) <ul><li>Students and teachers differently interpret interactive situations, make generalisations, have prejudices </li></ul><ul><li>Unawareness + overemphasis of the implication of culture </li></ul><ul><li>Special role of the teacher: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As assessors: take culture into account or not ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness of cultural differences </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. THANKS ! Questions ?
  13. 13. Recommendations (1) <ul><li>Develop policies and activities aimed at creating diverse student teams, for example in recruitement strategies + composition of student teams </li></ul><ul><li>Organize longer tutorial meetings in order to develop ‘shared culture’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. Recommendations (2) <ul><li>Make students and teachers aware of the existence of cultural differences and of its influence on interaction (for example during introduction programme, as part of curriculum, and as part of tutor training) </li></ul><ul><li>Have teachers pay attention to diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on ‘learning conditions’, not on categories </li></ul>
  15. 15. Recommendations (3) <ul><li>Ensure strict testing of and selection on English language competences (especially oral) </li></ul><ul><li>Make it a ‘code of conduct’ to stimulate group members to speak a language that is understood by all members </li></ul>