INTERCULTURAL COLLABORATION IN STUDENT PROJECT TEAMS- BARRIERS AND OPPORTUNITIES AT AALBORG UNIVERSITY?

T. Hussain Maken

Aalborg University (DENMARK)
In recent years there is much emphasis on the group work at educational institutions due to many educational benefits associated with this method of teaching and learning like team work, interpersonal skill, communication, negotiation skills, leadership and intercultural understanding. Working in teams of collaborative groups is considered as one of the essential skill of the engineers in this age.
Aalborg University is famous for Project based learning (PBL) in Engineering education. In the PBL learning environment, the students work in the forms of groups on real life projects. Project activities require an intensive collaboration and communication among group members. There is also increase in the enrolment of international student at many western European universities. In this context, it will be interesting to explore the issues in inter-cultural collaboration and communication in mixed groups of both local Danish and international students.
A study conducted by Du and Hansen (2006) identified five challenges or barrier for the development of intercultural learning at Aalborg University, which were: language barrier, different beliefs about learning, perceptions about group work, miscommunication in the management of group projects and collaboration issues. Especially, this study pointed out that there is a lack of collaboration between Danish and the international students in the groups. This paper will take the point of departure from the study of Du and Hansen and study the learning environment and in particular the factors leading to intercultural collaboration in the groups.
This paper will be based on qualitative data from Aalborg University. It is part of a Ph.D. A project for which the authors will be using the mixed method approach. The data for that will be collected through continuous observation of the group and in depth interviews with participants.