Academic diversity and collaborative learning

Projekter: ProjektForskning



Danish universities, like many others, have become more diversely populated within the last two-three decades. This diversity, and its implications, can be conceptualized and explored in many ways. In this project, we focus on what we term ‘academic diversity’, which zooms in on students’ different academic backgrounds, and how it plays out in collaborative learning contexts. Specifically, we explore collaborative learning in several Master’s programs at one Danish university. The university’s own bachelor degree students, as well as students with bachelor degrees from other universities, including non-Danish ones, populate these programs. Additionally, the program enrol students with bachelor degrees from university colleges, which in Denmark educate nurses, teachers, social workers, etc. in 4 year professional degrees. At our case university, collaborative project-work constitutes a significant learning activity (50% ECTS). In the project-groups, we therefore see students who have significant experience with this learning activity (the university’s own graduates) and some who are new to it and new to university study as such. By drawing on focus group interviews with Master’s students, we undertake an analysis of their experiences with group-work with peers of different academic backgrounds. We ask how they make sense of these differences and what implications they have for the ways in which the students work and learn in the group. We investigate when the differences are considered fruitful and valuable, and when they are considered detrimental and deleterious to the collaborative learning process. We also examine which strategies students use to deal with these differences, for example, how some students against stated policy surreptitiously exclude professional degree peers from joining their project groups. The study is of interest to those who teach or administer programmes with academically diverse students in collaborative learning settings.
Effektiv start/slut dato02/04/201803/06/2019