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Multicultural groups – additional thoughts

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Two weeks ago I posted my reflections on using compulsory multicultural groups in an essay assignment.  In that post I discussed the issues that arose from the assignment.  Unfortunately I was wearing blinkers at the time: I had tunnel vision.  I missed what is probably the most important benefit from using multicultural groups.

Happy Business TeamThe assignment essay was due three weeks before the end of the semester.  In the last four weeks of the semester I noticed far greater engagement in tutorials from international students generally and from students who spoke English as a second language in particular.  The timing of this improved engagement and that I had not detected similar changes in engagement in other units convinces me that the improved engagement was a result of the international students improving their cross-cultural communication skills.  The two elements I noticed in particular were that international students were more comfortable in conversing in English and that they had, somewhat, overcome their fear of being wrong.

This outcome makes all the effort worthwhile.

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