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Diversity in group works

From the very beginning of my master’s studies at KTH it was all about group work, either for longer projects or even short reports that you had to hand in during the period. I think that group works are a very engaging way of teaching and learning compared to lectures, where you basically only listen to the professor sharing his or her knowledge. But group works can also be quite exhausting, especially when they are the main component of your studies so that you need to assemble a new group of students for each course or each assignment. And as every course has different requirements on the number of students working on a project, you can’t calculate to always work with the same people.

One of my recent group works, with students from the US, Indonesia, Sweden and Germany

It has a lot of advantages, to always build new groups as you get mixed with completely different cultures, point of views and backgrounds. Espcially at KTH the programmes candidates are very diverse as they come from all over the world. In my programme for example, 9 different nationalities are represented among about 17 students. Most of the times you do not know the other students before starting the project, so it is also about getting to know each other and building a team. However, a lot of diversity also means many different ways of working and therefore trying to find a way that suits everyone in the group.

Overall, I value diverse group works a lot, as they force me to take on different viewpoints. I have a good comparison to homogeneous working groups, as my bachelor studies mainly entailed to work with other German students together. Even though I agree that it might be easier in terms of working structures to work in a homogeneous group, the variety of ideas lacks significantly behind compared to diverse groups.

In one of my courses we were randomly put into groups and had to write a short report within 10 days about three questions on the topic of sustainability. When we met to discuss our opinions about the tasks, we ended up having a discussion about how important sustainability is for different countries in the world. One of my group members started the discussion as he could not imagine that any country in the world would not have sustainability and a healthy environment among one of the top topics in their agenda. However, even if I agree that it is an important topic, I tried to explain to him that there are other countries that want or need to deal with other topics that they consider more important.

This is just an example that shows quite good how your ways of thinking might change when working in a diverse team. I have experienced the same in student associations or just among friends I made at university. Discussions within diverse groups develop completely different than discussions in homogeneous groups where everyone agrees quite quickly on one common opinion. My experiences all relate to group work at universities but as diverse working groups become also more important in the working life, I think it is a great concept of preparing us as students for the life that will wait for us once we leave campus.

Keep on thinking diverse!
// Maria