Part of the 4TU.Federation
4TU.
Centre for
Engineering Education

Project introduction and background information

The project consists of four studies:

Study 1a: an inventory of the international classroom at TU/e in particular in the context of challenge-based learning. This entails both a quantitative overview and a description of the way in which it is dealt with in educational activities (focusing on the composition of and collaboration in student teams and the way these are guided by the teachers) and the expectations about the implications of a change in the quantity and quality of the population of international students.

Study 1b: Student perspective is an indispensable element of Study 1. Therefore, on the basis of the literature and the findings of Study 1a, ten semi-structured interviews are conducted with students from different programs at TU/e who have experienced group work involving domestic and international students. An analysis of the interview data leads to an initial overview of relevant factors that are proposed to impact outcomes such as learning, performance, and satisfaction.

Study 2a: In preparation of main questionnaire study, an observation study will be conducted involving wearable technology and/or video registrations of student-group meetings. This should provide a detailed picture of group member behaviors and the group processes during student-group meetings. Together with the findings of study 1b, the findings study are the basis of a comprehensive research model and concomitant hypotheses to be investigated in study 2b.

Study 2b. In a large-scale questionnaire study, involving student teams from different programs and courses, we will answer our main research question: Which factors/processes influence (hamper, facilitate) collaboration, learning outcomes and satisfaction of student teams in courses and projects involving domestic and international students?”

Objective and expected outcomes

The objective of this project is fourfold:

  1. Provide insight into the current state of the international classroom at TU/e, and more specifically in challenge-based courses and projects that involve group work,
  2. Provide in-depth insight into factors/processes that help or hamper the success of internationalized Challenge Based learning,
  3. Provide a description of best-practices in the area of student-group composition under various conditions (e.g. ratios of Dutch versus international students, different cultural backgrounds) and creating effective challenge-based education in the international classroom,
  4. Generate tested guidelines that educational policymakers, teachers, and students can use to optimize student group composition, support/guidance of student group learning in the international classroom

Results and learnings

A particular strong point is the multimethod character of the project, which employs analyses of course enrollment data, interviews, observations as well as large-scale questionnaires.

1. Inventory study showed that a positive mindset toward an international classroom is found among staff and students, however, awareness, attitude, knowledge, and intercultural competencies appear limited. The Dutch and international student communities seem to co-exist as two relatively independent worlds. 

2. Interview study with domestic and international students showed that group composition (the ratio of domestic and international students present in one group) has consequences for group collaboration processes and group performance. Particularly becoming the only one international member in a Dutch student-group has brought great challenges to the international students, such as Dutch students are more easily switched to speaking Dutch, that makes the "token" international member feel frustrated, distanced, and excluded.

3. Observation study on three student groups with different nationalities composition showed that in the group that had one "token" international member, group meeting conversations were skewed towards Dutch students. This group encountered more process-related disagreements, competitive disagreement solutions, low level of trust, more emotional discomfort (such as pressure), and experienced less satisfaction. By comparison, in equally distributed nationality groups, group meeting conversations were more evenly distributed. These groups were observed to have more task-related disagreements, more information elaboration, and agreement solutions, reported higher levels of trust, satisfaction, and group belongingness. 

Recommendations

1. More efforts need to be put into creating opportunities for domestic and international students to get to know each other, such as through intercultural social activities. 

2. A deliberate mix of Dutch and international students when forming a student group deserves more attention in the international classroom. 

3.  The ratio of domestic and international student members present in one student group needs to be taken into consideration when deliberately mixing Dutch and international students. Try to avoid assigning one international student member into a Dutch-student group. 

4. Being aware of the student diversity effects on group collaboration process and group performance, and such awareness allows the teacher (lecturer) to take the next step towards facilitating multicultural student groups in the international classroom. 

Practical outcomes

Report: Sewnarain Sukul, I., Taconis, R., Kleingeld, A., & Rispens, S. (2019). Effective learning and student collaboration in the international classroom at TU/e  (study 1).

Taconis, R., Sukul, I. S., & Kleingeld, P.A.M. (accepted, 2020). International classroom at Eindhoven University of Technology. Paper for the 2020 IEEE EDUCON conference, Porto Portugal.

Ping, C., Kleingeld, A., Rispens, S., & Taconis, R. (2021). Perceptions of Multicultural Group Work in the International Classroom. The 17th CDIO International Conference, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Inteview format

Questionnaire