Effect of Mixed Groups on Multicultural Interaction and Student Experience


British Universities attract students from around the world. Being able to work effectively in multicultural teams increase students’ competitiveness and employability. Therefore, it is crucial to equip students with this valuable skill. There is a vast literature exploring the challenges in multicultural classrooms. One such challenge is that students rarely engage in interactions with those from other cultural backgrounds. The objective of this research is to investigate how working in a culturally mixed group on a summative assessment affect the level and type of interactions. All those involved in teaching in multicultural classrooms would find details of this initiative and results valuable. At the beginning of the semester, the 48 students enrolled in an undergraduate Economics course were asked to form groups of four with members from at least two nationalities. The group project submission deadline was at the end of the semester. Feedback about their experience of working in such a group was collected through survey questionnaires. We wanted to find out what the students talk about; the benefits and challenges; whether and how such a group affect the quality of the output and whether we should design such opportunities for students to interact across cultures. The results from the analysis of the survey responses provide strong support for such interventions to promote multicultural interactions, recognising many benefits and highlighting potential challenges. Moreover, there is evidence that students interact on topics wider than the project itself, such as differences in culture, university life, leisure activities etc.

Author Information
Geethanjali Selvaretnam, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Wenya Cheng, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2021
Stream: Learning Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon