Cooperative learning on an international masters

Mairin Laura Hennebry, Kenneth Fordyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postgraduate taught provision in Anglophone higher education contexts is becoming increasingly populated by cohorts of students from a wide range of linguistic, cultural and educational backgrounds. However, the voices of these students on their learning experiences remain largely unheard. Little previous research exists on the experiences of higher degree students as they participate in group work in multi-cultural settings. This study investigates the perspectives of students from a variety of educational backgrounds on their experiences of cooperative learning in multi-national groups on a Masters programme at a UK university. Seven focus groups were conducted with students from a range of countries including Confucian Heritage Cultures (CHC) and non-CHC backgrounds. Students perceived group work as often lacking adequate structure, leading to feelings of confusion and insecurity. While it was apparent that a complex interplay of cultural, cognitive, and linguistic factors impacted on the functioning of collaborative learning, the data highlighted the need to provide students with more structure and guidance for cooperative learning environments and the importance of creating intercultural learning opportunities for students to better understand the impact of cultural backgrounds on approaches to cooperative learning in multi-national situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-284
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number2
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


  • cooperative learning
  • internationalization
  • international students
  • pedagogy


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