Diversifying Student Group Work

How a faculty member brought students together to build businesses by diversifying her groups
Diverse students working together

Diversifying Student Group Work

Submitted by Marnie Staffen

Diverse students working together

What challenge, problem or motivation inspired you to make one small change?

I had 95 students in my 3 sections of Operations Management in the fall and more than 60% were International Students. I wanted to find a way to get all the students interacting in class to bridge some of the gaps and to create a collaborative learning environment.

Tell us about your one small change:

I assigned in class group work [not for marks] where students would build a business from the idea stage through various pieces of operations. Groups were to be of 4-5 students and I instructed the class to form their own groups with the following parameters: each group was to include at least 1 International student, 1 domestic student, 1 male student, and 1 female student. I then had them sit with these groups in every class and gave small in class assignments for them to collaborate and work together.

What was the result of your one small change?

Students became more comfortable with each other, they made connections that I could see both inside and outside of the classroom. Some groups even decided to work together for their graded assignments as well. We had great, lively in class discussions that allowed students to share their cultural experiences in the context of creating a business. As they progressed into second semester I could still see some of the connections apparent in my 4th semester class with them.

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