Intercultural Group Dynamics

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This module deals with the issues that arise from diversity in relation to group dynamics, and the opportunities and challenges involved in the facilitation of learning in such contexts. This module specifically focuses on the question of how to stimulate meaningful intercultural learning within the multicultural and multilingual classroom, engaging all students. The module addresses the constraints often experienced when addressing intercultural differences as a resource, using critical intercultural incidents as an opportunity for learning.

The module begins with an activity which facilitates the creation of diverse groups to stimulate engagement in a positive and active environment. The concepts are then taken forward into the second activity which deals with understanding intercultural diversity and challenges which emanate from group work in the intercultural context. Finally, in the last part of the workshop, participants actively engage with pedagogical interventions in order to stimulate intercultural learning and leverage the opportunities afforded by the international classroom.

This Intercultural Group Dynamics module builds on the framework established from the Internationalising Course Design which engenders the alignment of IILOs (International Intended Learning Outcomes) with activities and case studies which address the particular context of group work within an intercultural setting. It also supports The Role of Language module by including aspects relating to language within the workshop activities. This workshop builds on the other modules by encouraging participants to review their approaches to group dynamics in an intercultural setting in order to promote and provide evidence of intercultural learning.

The module is intended as the third of five such units in the EQUiiP programme for educational developers, but may also be organised as a stand-alone one-day workshop for a wider audience and can be modified to target different levels of experience and expertise.

In the full EQUiiP programme, participants will have the opportunity to apply the content of this workshop to the issues described in their own cases. Part of this application takes place in the workshops on Feedback & Reflective Processes.

Target group

The target groups for this module are educational developers (EDs) as well as senior staff such as directors of study, course coordinators, and other leadership team members responsible for international programmes in their higher education institutions.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this module, participants should have raised their awareness of the factors characterising the international classroom and should be able to:

  • apply the different pedagogical interventions to stimulate intercultural learning through group interaction associated with the variety of student needs and expectations in the intercultural classroom;
  • incorporate classroom opportunities brought by the cohort in terms of diversity in order to develop intercultural engagement;
  • recognize varied prior knowledge from the international classroom to be used as a resource for learning;
  • identify and use intercultural incidents as opportunities for learning.


If this module is organised as the second of five in the full EQUiiP Certification Programme, it may be completed as a workshop within 4.5 hours. It may also be organised as a stand-alone workshop with (preferably) 2 x 3 hours.


In the right-hand menu you will find a thematic introduction to this module, suggested preparation, and workshop activities, including videos to be used for introduction and wrap up.

References and Further Reading

Berardo, K. & Deardorff, D.K. (2012) Building cultural competence: Innovative activities and models. Stylus Publishing.

Blair, S. G. (2017). Mapping intercultural competence: Aligning goals, outcomes, evidence, rubrics, and assessment. In Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: International Approaches, Assessment and Application (pp. 91-106). Routledge.

Cruickshank, K., Chen, H. & Warren, S. (2012). Increasing international and domestic student interaction through group work: A case study from the humanities. Higher Education Research & Development31(6), 797-810.

Deardorff, D.K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education10(3), 241-266.

Deardorff, D. K., & Arasaratnam-Smith, L. A. (Eds.). (2017). Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: International Approaches, Assessment and Application. Routledge.

Gesteland, R. R. (2012). Cross-cultural business behavior: A guide for global management. Copenhagen Business School Press DK.

Gregersen-Hermans, J. (2017). Intercultural competence development in higher education. In Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: International Approaches, Assessment and Application (pp. 91-106). Routledge.

Griffith, R.L., Wolfeld, L., Armon, B.K., Rios, J. and Liu, O.L. (2016). Assessing intercultural competence in higher education: Existing research and future directions. ETS Research Report Series2016(2), 1-44.

Hall, E. T. (1989). Beyond culture. Anchor.

Kelly, P. (2008). MULTICULTURAL GROUP-WORK: THE GROUP ALLOCATION PROCESS. In Higher Education Association Conference.

Reid, R. & Garson, K. (2016). Rethinking multicultural group work as intercultural learning. Journal of Studies in International Education, 21(3), 195-212.

Turner, Y. (2009). “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” Is There Nothing We Can Do? Pedagogic Challenges in Using Group Work to Create an Intercultural Learning Space. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2).