The role culture and personality play in an authentic online group learning experience

Mittelmeier, Jenna; Heliot, Yingfei; Rienties, Bart and Whitelock, Denise (2015). The role culture and personality play in an authentic online group learning experience. In: Proceedings of the 22nd EDINEB Conference: Critically Questioning Educational Innovation in Economics and Business: Human Interaction in a Virtualising World (Daly, P.; Reid, K.; Buckley, P. and Reeve, S. eds.), EDiNEB Association, pp. 139–149.


Both educators and students face challenges in successful collaborative work, particularly when students come from a diverse set of backgrounds and cultures. This is especially the case at business schools, which have some of the most diverse student populations in the UK. One explanation for this could be that culture and personality influence behaviour in group work, creating mismatched expectations. This assumption has led to current research focusing upon student reflections and perceptions of these challenges, while few studies objectively explore what influences actual student behaviours in group work. Therefore, this paper describes a learning analytics study of an activity designed to replicate a group learning experience. In a lab environment, 58 students at a UK business school were placed in small groups to work with a Harvard Business School case study using an online chat to communicate with all members of their group. Student contributions were analysed and compared using Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and the Big Five Ten Item Personality Measure (Gosling, Rentfrom, & Swann, 2003). Our analysis suggests that cultural traits in particular influences and can predict student group work behaviours.

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