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Title: The co-construction of experience during multicultural group encounters
Author: Beuster, Vivette
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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Researchers have examined non-native English speaking (NNES) student integration problems and survival strategies in U.S. academic classes mainly from NNES student perspectives. Noticeably scarce or absent are studies investigating the role of U.S. students during multicultural interactions, the impact of NNES students on U.S. students, or the socially constructed nature of group work. Guided by a social constructionist methodology, this study approached group work interaction from both a U.S. and NNES college student perspective. Intensive interview data were gathered and analysed by employing constructivist grounded theory strategies, which exposed behaviours and processes participants reported using in groups. Discourse analysis was used to gain a deeper understanding of what participants tried to achieve with their language. The findings confirm that multicultural interaction is extremely complex and changeable and poses difficult but different interpersonal problems for both parties, though NNES students are more profoundly affected. Analyses suggest that students used a discourse of difference to position themselves and others. In the discourse, U.S. student group work conduct was used as the standard against which NNES student behaviour was measured. The discourse favoured U.S. students and disturbed power circulation accordingly. Positioning acts and story lines anchored in the discourse seemed to be part of changeable substructures, specific to the individual and the situation. The substructures, consisting of needs and expectations, formed the local moral order that determined participants' rights and duties. Positioning involved complicated decisions about whether individuals should take social risks, leave comfort zones, reposition themselves, revise story lines, perform emotion work, or change ideas and expectations. Consequences of decisions were group inclusion or exclusion, becoming visible or invisible in class, and learning or not learning from group encounters. Trying to alleviate U.S.-NNES group interaction problems involves a broad approach that includes creating institutional commitment to diversity through setting meaningful educational goals and making individuals aware of personal stakes and responsibilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available