Research that works: a practical approach to student collaborative work

Author: Clark, Jill

Date: 2009-12-23

Publisher: Whitireia Community Polytechnic

Type: Conference item

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The authors of this paper, who tutor at two different technical institutes, have collaborated for the past four years on a research project examining New Zealand experiences with student collaborative learning in multicultural groups. International research, while acknowledging the challenges involved, is positive about the educational benefits of working in diverse groups. There has been little New Zealand research, however, in this area. The first stage of this project identified issues that tertiary tutors faced when using collaborative learning in their classrooms. Subsequent findings of this research project have been consistent with the literature on the benefits and challenges of inter-cultural collaborative learning. The results indicate that students are often inadequately prepared for working in groups and therefore do not achieve the desired outcome of learning to work together constructively and collaboratively. The development of the 'soft skills' required by industry is often not achieved by either domestic or international students. This paper outlines the particular challenges faced by New Zealand tertiary tutors who wish to use collaborative learning techniques for assessment purposes. The findings from this and other research projects have been used to construct a model that will help tutors set up collaborative programmes that not only meet the basic requirements of effective collaborative learning but are also pedagogically sound and culturally accommodating. Such programmes will benefit tutors as well as domestic and international students.

Subjects: collaborative learning techniques, assessment, multicultural groups, tertiary education, bilingual, multilingual and multicultural education, educational assessment, evaluation, and research, 13 - Education

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