Barriers to Learning in Culturally Diverse Groups

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Culturally diverse student cohorts are increasingly present in many UK Universities as the numbers of international students grow annually. One consequence of this is that students are regularly required to work together in culturally diverse Collaborative learning (CL) groups. Whilst such experiences should offer many benefits in terms of integration and greater understanding of differences there is instead concern among staff and students that this cultural diversity offers a real challenge to the use of groupwork to promote learning. Problems for such groups include issues such as language problems, differences in cultural practices (e.g. rules about turn taking, assertiveness and hierarchy) and lack of expertise among many academics to manage the diversity. These issues create barriers to student engagement in collaborative discussions through negative patterns of interaction. As interaction and communication are central to the development and sharing of knowledge in CL environments, methods for removing barriers to student engagement must be found. If this is not done, it challenges the ongoing use of this pedagogic approach in culturally diverse groups. In this paper we discuss research at a UK university that is seeking to understand the difficulties students experience when learning collaboratively and explores possible solutions to remove these difficulties to enable students to realise the benefits that collaborative learning could offer.


Keywords: Cultural Diversity, Collaborative Learning, Higher Education
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Jane Prichard

Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton
Southampton, Highfield, UK

Dr Jane Prichard's research has focused around two key areas. First she is interested in team performance and in particular how training people to work more effectively in groups impacts on group functioning. Recent projects include evaluating the impact of team skills training on collaborative groups in educational settings, exploring the role that training has on workload and cohesion and she has just started work investigating barriers to learning in culturally diverse collaborative groups. The second branch of her research focuses on knowledge sharing in teams. Here recent projects have explored the impact of team skills training and task skills training on trust and transactive memory.

Dr. Melanie J. Ashleigh

Senior Lecturer, School of Management, University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton, UK

Prior to her academic career which began with a BSc., in Psychology in 1995, Dr. Ashleigh had her own business in Human Resource Management and recruitment. She completed her PhD in 2002 from the School of Engineering and joined the School of Management in 2003. Dr. Ashleigh’s research interests include trust in teams and technology, innovation, knowledge management and team learning. She has published articles in journals such as Ergonomics, Decision Support Systems, Strategic Change, and Small Group Research.

Sharon M. Holder

PhD Student, Centre for Research on Ageing, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton
UK

Sharon Holder is a PGR student at the University of Southampton. Her academic
grounding in gerontology has contributed to the focus of her PhD research on
‘Health inequalities amongst older people from ethnic minority groups in
Britain’. Other research interests include intergenerational relationships,
quality of life issues and cultural barriers.

Malcolm Hobbs

Researcher, National Addiction Centre, Division of Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London
London, UK

Malcolm Hobbs is a researcher at Kings College London, employed in research on
alcohol treatment. His background is in the Psychology of drug addiction. Other
research interests include memory impariment in undersea divers and the effect
of alcohol on eye witness testimony.

Ref: L09P0859