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International Group Work for Sustainable Development


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Presented at Horizons in STEM Education, July 2016

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International Group Work for Sustainable Development

  1. 1. Bring Back Pen Pals: International Group Work for Sustainable Development Katherine Haxton & Richard Darton @kjhaxton July 2016
  2. 2. Year 1/Level 3 (NXU) Year 2/Level 4 (NXU) • 4 bridging modules: 3 'in person', 1 distance Year 3/Level 5 (NXU) • 4 bridging modules, 3 'in person', 1 distance Year 4/Level 6 (KU) • 120 credits , 15 credits EFAP
  3. 3. Sustainable Chemistry Module Personal Care Health Care Food Security Water Security Energy Future Chemistry
  4. 4. Module Design Keele University (KU) [face-to-face] - 12 x 2 hour workshops - 5 online tasks (35%) - 2 essays (50%) - 1 magazine (15%) Nanjing XiaoZhuang University (NXU) [distance] - 10 topics - 5 online tasks (30%) - 1 essay (50%) - 1 video (20%)
  5. 5. International Group Work 37 NXU, 59 KU students in groups of 4 – 6. Suggestions for topics made but deliberately vague. Identical assessment guidelines, slightly different submission. 3 weeks to do task (later extended). Fairly low stakes: 10% of module. Sufficient to get engagement. General assessment criteria based on engagement with task.
  6. 6. Engagement KU: 48/59 students submitted NXU: 34/37 students submitted “I didn’t like this task!! Because the Keele students didn't email me more!!!” - NXU “The assignment was completely pointless as nobody from China replied.” - KU Student
  7. 7. Emails on deadline day The Chinese Students haven’t responded to my email When did you send it? Last night *&%$£ “The main surprise was the time difference between the 2 countries as it was about 8 hours meaning that the conversations were often stop start, which was weird to me as at first it didn’t really click to me that I was speaking to people half way around the world about the same chemistry course from the same lecturers.”
  8. 8. NXU Perspective Very difficult to ‘get in touch’ - issues with accessing Keele email accounts Some very successful interactions - students who signed up for WeChat General internet issues “Be more nice and open, don't be shy, be willing to chat to others.” “It's already very good. It's interesting. The problem is some of the students in my group didn't talk with each other.”
  9. 9. 0 10 20 30 40 strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree %response NXU: Emailing the Keele Students was Interesting
  10. 10. 0 10 20 30 40 50 strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree %response KU: Most of my group responded to emails.
  11. 11. KU Perspective “It was nice to converse with the Chinese students and to find out about how another culture tackles sustainability.” “I feel that the assignment was too dependent on the Chinses students responding to our emails.” “I'd just like to say how nice it was that Xinyu was so enthusiastic about talking to people from another country and it was a pleasure talking to him, he even told me his favourite actor is Daniel Craig.”
  12. 12. KU Perspective “The language barrier was hard to overcome, not that I can speak any Chinese but it made it hard to ask and have answered in depth question.” “The fluency of my groups English is astounding, rarely did we have a communication barrier due to language. Also, the Teletubbies are very popular in China!
  13. 13. 0 10 20 30 40 strongly disagree disagree neutral agree strongly agree %response KU: I will keep in touch with Chinese students from my group. 9 students
  14. 14. KU Topics of Conversation
  15. 15. Reflections This task rewards students who are engaged and: - organised (emailing well in advance of deadlines) - curious (willing to learn from one another) - open (not deterred by language or cultural barriers) This task is harsh on students who: - leave things to the last minute - are reluctant to engage fully, ask questions, be curious - dislike social activities and prefer solitary research
  16. 16. Any Questions? Katherine Haxton & Richard Darton @kjhaxton July 2016