A cross-sectional study was undertaken that focused on hospital nurses in Taiwan. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire; 300 questionnaires were distributed and 200 valid questionnaires were returned. To test the reliability of the data, they were analyzed by Cronbach's α and confirmatory factors. Correlation analysis was used on the relationships between organizational cultures, leadership behavior and job satisfaction.
As universities worldwide rapidly internationalise, higher education classrooms have become unique spaces for collaboration between students from different countries. One common way to encourage collaboration between diverse peers is through group work. However, previous research has highlighted that cross-cultural group work can be challenging and has hinted at potential social tensions. To understand this notion better, we have used robust quantitative tools in this study to select 20 participants from a larger classroom of 860 students to take part in an in-depth qualitative interview about cross-cultural group work experiences. Participant views on social tensions in cross-cultural group work were elicited using a unique mediating artefact method to encourage reflection and in-depth discussion. In our analysis of emergent interview themes, we compared student perspectives on the role of social relationships in group work by their academic performance level. Our findings indicated that all students interviewed desired the opportunity to form social relationships with their group work members, but their motivations for doing so varied widely by academic performance level.
However, limited research has specifically focused on the role of social relationships in encouraging collaboration. Thus, one goal of this study is to highlight student voices on the subject of social tensions in group work with peers from different countries. A second goal is to better understand the nuances in social experiences between students of varying academic performance levels. Finally, as little is known about the role of the teacher in developing these relationships, we aim to highlight student expectations of teachers in developing social capital between diverse group work participants. Using in-depth qualitative methods coupled with robust quantitative tools in a highly diverse multidisciplinary business module with 860 students, in this article, we analyse 20 interviews to compare cross-cultural group work experiences and expectations between students of varying academic performance levels.
However, other research has demonstrated that cross-cultural group work is often fraught with tension. For example, Fozdar and Volet (2012) demonstrated that, although students felt positive about working with peers from other countries, they found the work challenging. In the UK, Harrison and Peacock (2009) found that many domestic students felt negative about working with international students. Similarly, Moore and Hampton (2015) highlighted that many students (particularly domestic students) preferred to work with those from their own background. In a problem-based learning environment, Singaram et al. (2011) demonstrated self-segregation by cultural background between students in collaborative tutorials.
We additionally recognise a pressing need for research on this topic to link explicitly to practice, as limited research has considered student expectations of teachers in developing social relationships between cross-cultural group work members. Thus, we also consider the following:
Overall, a total of 1582 codes were recorded, of which 39.1% (n = 618) were in the social element category. Participants in cluster 1 contributed an individual average of 94.4 (SD = 29.28) total codes and 31.2 social element codes (SD = 7.76). Cluster 2 participants contributed an individual average of 71.6 (SD = 17.75) codes and 27.75 (SD = 12.14) social element codes. Finally, participants in cluster 3 contributed an individual average of 76.7 codes (SD = 17.66) and 24.28 social element codes (SD = 11.40). A descriptive summary of social element themes by cluster is depicted in Table 3. We considered whether there were differences between clusters in terms of the quantity of statements for each code and found only a few differences. First, high-performing students on average discussed cultural influences with working with diverse group members more often. Second, low-performing students more frequently discussed the role of forming social relationships with group members.
Participants in cluster 2 were also more likely to discuss negative social experiences in group work. Unlike those in cluster 1, who often felt that cross-cultural communication was relatively natural, there was more of a perception of social tensions for all those in cluster 2.
The seven participants in cluster 3 tended to feel less comfortable with group work and often admitted to contributing less than their peers. At the same time, all participants in cluster 3 frequently noted that social relationships are essential and necessary components for productivity in cross-cultural group work, using stronger language than participants in cluster 1 or 2. Six of the seven participants highlighted that knowing their group members on a more personal level helps them feel more comfortable and more likely to participate.
Although participants in cluster 1 typically felt that collaboration happens naturally, those in cluster 3 all felt that cross-cultural group work is inherently socially awkward. This was typically expressed in more definite terms than participants in cluster 2.
Previous literature has highlighted that tensions exist in cross-cultural collaboration (Fozdar and Volet 2012; Harrison and Peacock 2009; Moore and Hampton 2015). In this article, we have added to the understanding of these tensions by considering the role of social relationships in cross-cultural group work. In terms of research question 1, we found that all students interviewed felt that social relationships are necessary components of cross-cultural collaboration. In every case, students wanted more opportunities to get to know their peers before working on group-related tasks, particularly when group members were from countries other than their own. Indeed, many participants in this study believed that cross-cultural group work tensions derive in part from a lack of social relationships between diverse group members. Thus, it is worth considering if the difficulties of cross-cultural group work highlighted in previous research (Kimmel and Volet 2012; Moore and Hampton 2015; Takahashi and Saito 2013) could be alleviated with increased opportunity for group members to form social relationships within and outside the classroom. Further research, thus, should consider which evidence-based interventions can support social relationships in collaborative work.
In this article, robust quantitative tools were used to select 20 students from a larger classroom of 860 students to participate in an in-depth interview about their experiences with social tensions in cross-cultural group work. In doing so, several limitations are recognised. First, this study took place in just one context and replication in other contexts will be necessary to confirm findings. Secondly, the focus of this study was on student reflections on cross-cultural group work, and, thus, did not include more objective measures of their experiences, such as by using social network analysis or observations of group work activities. Finally, we recognise that individual students should not be essentialised as collective identities from entire countries or regions. Indeed, more research will be needed in the future to further unpack variations in group work experiences between cultures. However, in contrast to previous quantitative and qualitative studies, we were able to select a representative, broad sample of students using cluster analysis techniques of academic performance. We also incorporated a unique mediating artefact method to elicit in-depth responses about personal topics, such as culture and social integration. This allowed us to provide a comprehensive, complex picture of how international and host national students overcome cross-cultural group work tensions.
This innovative study builds on previous research that highlights the potential role of social relationships in cross-cultural collaboration. In doing so, we have found that motivations for building social relationships with group members differ between students of various academic performance levels. Lower performing students, in particular, demonstrated a desire for teacher intervention to encourage relationship building in the classroom. Therefore, it is worth considering in the future which evidence-based interventions can drive social cohesion in the classroom and further encourage low-performing students to socially integrate with their higher performing peers. After all, a key takeaway from this present study is that social relationships are a desired component of the academic experience by all students, and thus an important consideration for the universities that serve them.
Information and communication technologies influence a variety of approaches to teaching and learning. They offer flexible time and space as well as the formation of heterogeneous groups, not possible in the past. Online projects that provide opportunities for collaborative learning in a multicultural environment, even between hostile cultures, have been increasing. In such an environment, learners from different cultures and countries interact, learn together, and form relationships without the stereotypes influenced by external appearances. These online encounters have been found to contribute more successfully to cross-cultural understanding than face-to-face meetings (Hoter et al. 2009). Digital technologies can also help immigrants, minorities, and marginalized groups begin to learn and explore new languages and cultures. 2b1af7f3a8