Does nationality composition affect student groups' collaboration and performance? A cross-case analysis

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Abstract

A Dutch STEM university is aiming to create an inclusive international classroom
where diversity is appreciated as an indispensable element of the quality of learning.
One aspect of the international classroom is to enable students to acquire
international collaboration skills through working in mixed nationality student groups.
In a previous interview study, we found that group composition of nationalities has
consequences for collaboration, in which having just one ‘token’ international
member group seems particularly ineffective. This paper presents a follow-up
observation study that compares collaboration and performance in three
compositions of mixed-nationality student groups. We analyzed online meeting
recordings, evaluation questionnaires, and self-reflection reports. In the cross-case
analysis, we focused on: 1) members’ participation in the meetings (frequency of
utterances), 2) disagreement episodes (triggers and solutions), and 3) group
performance (teachers’ grading and students’ perceived performance). The results
suggest that in the group with one international member, group meeting
conversations were skewed towards the domestic Dutch students. This group
encountered more process-related disagreements, competitive disagreement
solutions, experienced a low level of trust, more emotional discomfort (such as
pressure), and experienced less satisfaction. By comparison, in the other two groups
where nationality was more equally distributed, members evenly contributed to
meetings. These groups were observed to have more task-related disagreements,
more information elaboration and agreement solutions, and higher levels of trust,
satisfaction, and group belongingness. This observation study contributes to
awareness of student diversity effects that allow teachers to take the next step
towards facilitating mixed-nationality student groups in the international classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBlended Learning in Engineering Education: challenging, enlightening – and lasting?
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of SEFI 49th Annual Conference
EditorsHans-Ulrich Heiß, Hannu-Matti Järvinen, Annette Mayer, Alexandra Schulz
PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education (SEFI)
Pages1160-1170
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-023-6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021
Event49th SEFI Annual Conference: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening - and Lasting? - Online, Virtual, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 13 Sept 202116 Sept 2021
Conference number: 49
https://sefi2021.eu/

Conference

Conference49th SEFI Annual Conference: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening - and Lasting?
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2021
Country/TerritoryGermany
CityBerlin
Period13/09/2116/09/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • Collaboration
  • Group composition
  • International classroom
  • Nationality

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