The Open UniversitySkip to content

The role of cultural background and team divisions in developing social learning relations in the classroom

Rienties, Bart; Nanclares, Núria Hernández; Jindal-Snape, Divya and Alcott, Peter (2013). The role of cultural background and team divisions in developing social learning relations in the classroom. Journal of Studies in International Education, 17(4) pp. 332–353.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


A common assumption is that students prefer to work together with students from similar cultural backgrounds. In a group work context, students from different cultural backgrounds are “forced” to work together. This might lead to stress and anxiety but at the same time may allow students to learn from different perspectives. The prime goal of this article is to understand how international and home students from different cultural backgrounds build learning and work relationships with other students in and outside their classroom using an innovative quantitative method of Social Network Analysis in a pre-post test manner. In Study 1, 50 Spanish and 7 Erasmus economics students worked in self-selected teams. In Study 2, 69 primarily international students in a postgraduate management program in the United Kingdom worked in randomized teams. The results indicate that in Study 1 learning ties after 14 weeks were significantly predicted by the initial team division and friendship ties. The seven international students integrated well. In Study 2, learning ties after 14 weeks were primarily predicted by the team division, followed by initial friendship ties and conational friendships. Although international students developed strong (multinationality) team learning relationships, international students also kept strong links with students with the same cultural background. As the initial team division had an 8 times stronger effect on learning ties than cultural backgrounds, these results indicate that the instructional design of team work has a strong influence on how international and home students work and learn together.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2012 Nuffic
ISSN: 1552-7808
Keywords: internationalization of higher education; internationalization of teaching; learning and research; study abroad; globalization and international higher education; international exchange programs
Academic Unit/School: Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI) > Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI)
Item ID: 39484
Depositing User: Bart Rienties
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2014 10:54
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 13:10
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU