Managing group work

Group work within courses has its own associated challenges and strains. But, a commonly reported issue that affects the progress of many group assignments is the challenge of encouraging our local and international students to work effectively together. Recent research highlights that intervention from the lecturer with regard to providing guidance and strategies around successful collaboration is the preferable approach as this can help students more explicitly understand the complexities of working with others (see Briguglio paper), while guided group discussions in tutorials is another method that can break down communication and cultural barriers (see Flinders University help sheet).

Video: John Nash - A Beautiful Mind & Intercultural Competence (2011) (YouTube, 2:59min)

This excerpt from A Beautiful Mind was uploaded onto YouTube by an academic teaching an intercultural communication course. The purpose is to introduce students to the concept of intercultural competence using this scene as an example, especially in conflict situations. 

Paper: Empowering students by developing their intercultural communication competence: a two-way process (Briguglio, n.d.) (pdf, 268kb)

'This paper describes a workshop that was implemented with a group of undergraduate students at Curtin University of Technology to assist them in working successfully in multinational student teams…The paper emphasises the importance of guided discussion and how the workshop facilitator needs to lead students carefully and sensitively to explore cultural and linguistic issues in intercultural communication. The paper also discusses directions for a classroom pedagogy which utilises teaching and learning approaches that build on cultural diversity and develop intercultural communication competence in students.'

Help sheet: Theory into practice strategies: Small groups (Flinders University, n.d.) (pdf, 1.3mb)

This help sheet offers some strategies for making tutorials more inclusive when you have a culturally diverse student population.