Young Chinese students’ teamwork experiences in a UK business school – from a cultural perspective
Using a qualitative approach, this study examines young Chinese students’ (born post 1985) perceptions of teamwork and how these perceptions change as a result of their experiences, whilst studying at a UK university. Built from deep and rich data collected from in-depth interviews with an experimental group of students, the research establishes that through direct communication with students from various cultural backgrounds during teamwork, the Chinese students adapt psychologically, cognitively and behaviourally to varying degrees. The decreased wariness of local and other international students and British university staff, increased self confidence and sense of achievement may be categorised as psychological adaptation. Changes are also revealed in their open mindedness, decreased ethnocentrism, increased cultural awareness, and attitudes towards time and assessment, opinions on abiding principles, that is following ethical and moral aspects and regulations. These may be labelled as cognitive adaptation. Further, changes are shown in their ways of expressing opinions, holding ground, handling uncertainties, mixing with local and international students, and studying autonomously. These may be termed as behavioural adaptation. The research finds that the extent of adaptation is moderated by their individual learning approaches, namely surface, deep and achieving. It stresses that creating optimal cultural synergy with diverse cultural contacts/exposure not only facilitates but maximises cultural adaptation, namely fitting in with new social and educational environment. The results are triangulated by the findings from a comparison group of similar students in China, with respect to age, gender and learning approaches, thus aiming to discount any bias. Implications arising from the study suggest that the internationalisation of education should enhance ‘cultural synergy’ so that both the local and international students can enrich their learning experiences and develop intercultural competence.