Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Group assignments are widely used in higher education for a range of educational reasons. Although there is a large body of research on the merits of group work and factors that may contribute to successful group work, less is known about students’ and teachers’ perspectives, particularly when groups are composed of students from diverse linguistic backgrounds. The current qualitative study investigated students’ and teachers’ perspectives on group assignments in a Master of Applied Linguistics program offered by a leading research university in Australia. The program has predominantly English as an additional language (EAL) students. Teachers and students in four graduate subjects that involved group assignments were interviewed for their views and reflections. Analysis of the interview data revealed similarities and differences in perspectives in five main areas – group work benefits and challenges, group formation and assessment, and the need for pre-implementation training. The findings highlight the need for teachers to promote open discussion about the purposes and merits of group work, both pedagogical and social.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bacon, D. R.
    (2005) The effect of group projects on content-related learning. Journal of Management Education, 29(2), 248–267. 10.1177/1052562904263729
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1052562904263729 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bacon, D. R., Stewart, K. R., & Anderson, E. S.
    (2001) Methods of assigning players to teams: A review and novel approach. Simulation and Gaming, 32(1), 6–17. 10.1177/104687810103200102
    https://doi.org/10.1177/104687810103200102 [Google Scholar]
  3. Brown, C. A., & Mcllory, K.
    (2011) “Group work in healthcare students’ education: What do we think we are doing?” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(6), 687–699. 10.1080/02602938.2010.483275
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2010.483275 [Google Scholar]
  4. Chapman, K. J., Meuter, M., Toy, D., & Write, L.
    (2006) Can’t we pick our own group? The influence of group selection method on group dynamics and outcomes. Journal of Management Education, 30(4), 557–569. 10.1177/1052562905284872
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1052562905284872 [Google Scholar]
  5. Cheng, L. T. W., Armatas, C. A., & Wang, J. W.
    (2020) The impact of diversity, prior academic achievement and goal orientation on learning performance in group capstone projects. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(5), 913–925. 10.1080/07294360.2019.1699028
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2019.1699028 [Google Scholar]
  6. Cruickshank, K., Chen, H., & Warren, S.
    (2012) Increasing international and domestic student interaction through group work: A case study from humanities. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(6), 797–810. 10.1080/07294360.2012.669748
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2012.669748 [Google Scholar]
  7. Davies, W. M.
    (2009) Groupwork as a form of assessment: Common problems and recommended solutions. Higher Education, 581, 563–584. 10.1007/s10734‑009‑9216‑y
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-009-9216-y [Google Scholar]
  8. De Hei, M. S. A., Sjoer, E. J., Strijbos, J. W., & Admiraal, W. F.
    (2016) Teacher educators’ design and implementation of group learning activities. Educational Studies, 42(4), 394–409. 10.1080/03055698.2016.1206461
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03055698.2016.1206461 [Google Scholar]
  9. Denies, K., Yashima, T., & Janssen, R.
    (2015) Classroom versus societal willingness to communicate: Investigating French as a second language in Flanders. The Modern Language Journal, 99(4), 718–739. 10.1111/modl.12276
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12276 [Google Scholar]
  10. Ellis, R., & Barkhuizen, G. P.
    (2005) Analysing learner language. Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Fellenz, M. R.
    (2006) Toward fairness in assessing student groupwork: A protocol for peer evaluation of individual contributions. Journal of Management Education, 30(4), 570–591. 10.1177/1052562906286713
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1052562906286713 [Google Scholar]
  12. Hennerby, M. L., & Fordyce, K.
    (2018) Cooperative learning on an international masters. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(2), 270–284. 10.1080/07294360.2017.1359150
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2017.1359150 [Google Scholar]
  13. Hinds, P., K. Carley, K., D. Krackhardt, D., & Wholey, D.
    (2000) Choosing work group members: Balancing similarity, competence and familiarity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 81(2), 226–251. 10.1006/obhd.1999.2875
    https://doi.org/10.1006/obhd.1999.2875 [Google Scholar]
  14. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R.
    (1989) Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Interaction Book Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. (1999) Learning together and alone: cooperative, competitive and individualistic learning (5th ed). Allyn & Bacon.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T.
    (2009) An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365–379. 10.3102/0013189X09339057
    https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X09339057 [Google Scholar]
  17. (2013) The impact of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning environments on achievement. InJ. Hattie & E. Anderman (Eds.), International handbook of student achievement (pp.372–374). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., Roseth, C., & Shin, T. S.
    (2014) The relationship between motivation and achievement in interdependent situations. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(9), 622–633. 10.1111/jasp.12280
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12280 [Google Scholar]
  19. Judd, T., Kennedy, G., & Cropper, S.
    (2010) Using wikis for collaborative learning: Assessing collaboration through contribution. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 341–354. 10.14742/ajet.1079
    https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1079 [Google Scholar]
  20. Kamau, C., & Spong, A.
    (2015) A student teamwork induction protocol. Studies in Higher Education, 40(7), 1273–1290. 10.1080/03075079.2013.879468
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.879468 [Google Scholar]
  21. Laurie, M.
    (2019, August28). At uni, English-speakers are now unpaid tutors. The Age.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Leeming, P.
    (2019) Emergent leadership and group interaction in the task-based language classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 53(3), 768–793. 10.1002/tesq.506
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.506 [Google Scholar]
  23. Leki, I.
    (2001) A narrow thinking system: Nonnative-English-speaking students in group projects across the curriculum. TESOL Quarterly, 35(1), 39–57. 10.2307/3587859
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587859 [Google Scholar]
  24. (2007) Undergraduates in a second language: Challenges and complexities of academic literacy developments. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Liang, X.
    (2004) Cooperative learning as a sociocultural practice. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 6(5), 637–668. 10.3138/cmlr.60.5.637
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.60.5.637 [Google Scholar]
  26. Mahenthiran, S., & Rouse, P. J.
    (2000) The impact of group selection on student performance and satisfaction. The International Journal of Educational Management, 14(6), 255–264. 10.1108/09513540010348043
    https://doi.org/10.1108/09513540010348043 [Google Scholar]
  27. Nokes-Malach, T. J., Richey, J. E., & Gadgil, S.
    (2015) When is it better to learn together? Insights from research on collaborative learning. Educational Psychology Review, 27(4), 645–656. 10.1007/s10648‑015‑9312‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9312-8 [Google Scholar]
  28. Seethmaraju, R., & Borman, M.
    (2009) Influence of group formation choices on academic performance. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(1), 31–40. 10.1080/02602930801895679
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02602930801895679 [Google Scholar]
  29. Storch, N.
    (2013) Collaborative writing in L2 classrooms. Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781847699954
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781847699954 [Google Scholar]
  30. (2017) Implementing and assessing collaborative writing activities in EAP classes. InJ. Bitchener, N. Storch, & R. Wette (Eds.), Teaching writing for academic purposes to multilingual students: Instructional approaches (pp.130–144). Routledge. 10.4324/9781315269665‑9
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315269665-9 [Google Scholar]
  31. Strauss, P., & U, A.
    (2007) Group assessments: Dilemmas facing lecturers in multicultural tertiary classrooms. Higher Education Research & Development, 26(2), 147–61. 10.1080/07294360701310789
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360701310789 [Google Scholar]
  32. Strauss, P., U, A., & Young, S.
    (2011) ‘I know the type of people I work well with’: Student anxiety in multicultural group projects. Studies in Higher Education, 36(7), 815–829. 10.1080/03075079.2010.488720
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2010.488720 [Google Scholar]
  33. Summers, M., & Volet, S.
    (2008) Students’ attitudes toward culturally mixed groups on international campuses: Impact of participation in diverse and non-diverse groups. Studies in Higher Education, 33(4), 357–370. 10.1080/03075070802211430
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070802211430 [Google Scholar]
  34. Walker, A.
    (2002) British psychology students’ perceptions of group-work and peer assessment. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 28–36. 10.2304/plat.2001.1.1.28
    https://doi.org/10.2304/plat.2001.1.1.28 [Google Scholar]
  35. Wheelan, S. A.
    (2009) Group size, group development, and group productivity. Small Group Research, 40(2), 247–262. 10.1177/1046496408328703
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496408328703 [Google Scholar]
  36. Yashima, T.
    (2002) Willingness to communicate in a second language: The Japanese EFL context. The Modern Language Journal, 86(1), 54–66. 10.1111/1540‑4781.00136
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4781.00136 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cooperative learning; EAL students; group formation; group work
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error