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Multicultural Group Work

Subject: Global History. Course title: International Organizations and Institutions. Level: MA. Course size: 30.

Motivation for the activity

I use this strategy for forming groups to ensure diverse/multicultural groups that combine a variety of different strengths and resources based on student's academic, disciplinary, linguistic, national, personal and work backgrounds.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

  • To develop student's abilities to leverage their strengths in group work contexts
  • To develop student's intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes through participation in diverse multicultural groups
  • To help prepare them to effectively participate in diverse/multicultural groups in professional settings.

Description of the activity

At the beginning of the course, I form groups of 4-5 students based on students’ backgrounds and strengths. Students are expected to collaborate on visual representations of content from required readings, discuss readings, prepare questions for class discussions, and through this work to draw on their various strengths and to see themselves as resources for each other.

In class, I ask the students to answer some questions about their strengths in various areas and backgrounds, such as their disciplinary background, nationality, native language, special skills and experience working in international organizations. I then form the groups in front of them by sorting their responses to form groups, where they can complement each other.

Outcome of the practice

Constructive processes of supporting each other in writing individual research papers, as well as in preparing group presentations.

Reflections on the activity

Try to reshuffle the groups for different activities and/or mid-semester.