International Students Enjoy Teamwork More Than American Students

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According to a new study, international students enjoy teamwork more than American students. Why?

When I read the results of a latest survey sharing that American students do not prefer to work in teams, I whole-heartedly agreed. Thinking back to my days of group projects while in college, I immediately thought of those people who “didn’t pull their weight”, meaning they didn’t do their share of the work. Heck, sometimes even I was that person. Sure, I’ll admit it. Sometimes in the group the opposite occurred where we had three or four people who wanted to be the leader and do everything! Just a few reasons why I didn’t like group projects.

According to a Graduate Management Admission Council survey of MBA students, only 13 percent of American citizens said they preferred working in teams as a teaching method.

However, international students felt differently.

25 percent of students from Africa and the Middle East preferred working in groups.

20 percent of Chinese students liked working in groups too.

So, how do American students like to learn?

35 percent of Americans said they like both lectures and discussions.

So, what’s the deal? Why do Americans not like working in groups?

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]“Americans resist the notion of their success and livelihood being tied to someone else’s performance. People want to know that when they work hard, they get the reward. Other cultures are about harmony in the group,”[/typography]  said Bradley Kirkman, head of the management, innovation, and entrepreneurship department at North Carolina State’s Poole College of Management who has published research about teamwork. “That’s why you’ll see push-back in U.S. MBA programs.”

Peter Rodriguez, senior associate dean for degree programs at Virginia’s Darden School of Business said international students rarely complain about group projects.

“What I know about international students is most of them came here seeking closer networks with U.S. students, so they enjoy the opportunity to do close-up work with them,” he said.

However, the reality is in most careers, we need to know how to work with others. Employers want to know you have the ability to work with others and no matter what, get the work done. Now I can look back and see how those group project experiences prepared me for my career. Even though I didn’t like it at the time, it has proven to be beneficial.

How do you feel about working in groups for class projects? Share with us on Facebook, Tweet at us on Twitter, join the discussion in our LinkedIn group, or comment below.


international student voice magazine webCarrie2Carrie Circosta

Editor in Chief




Information for article provided by Business Week
Featured photograph courtesy Novartis AG

One thought on “International Students Enjoy Teamwork More Than American Students

  1. I agree with you, Carrie. Group projects were not my favorite method for learning. As a perfectionist, it didn’t suit me too well as I didn’t trust everyone would pull their weight or do their portion correctly (or up to my standards). But, I think a lot of teachers understand that there is give and take in group projects, and a lot of my professors would ask us to rate our group as a whole, as well as individual members of the group after the project was complete. I suppose this was their way to get a better idea of what went on “behind-the-scenes” to grade accordingly, and fairly.

    More importantly, I think group projects were good in the fact that they encouraged different perspectives and ideas on how to go about the project; they allowed for leaders to lead and followers to follow; group projects provided opportunities for compromise (a necessary skill for any business), brought comradery to the classroom amongst classmates who may not have mixed otherwise, etc. I realize now, that there are more benefits to group projects and teamwork than I believed before.

    Regardless if everyone pulled their weight or not, the project always had to be turned in – and its always a relief when you know you’ve done what you could do and no point worrying anymore, because its out of your control at that point. Either the team worked well together, or it didn’t. Whether you liked everyone or not, got along or didn’t, you had to put your differences aside and pull something together – and, I suppose, in the end, that’s all that really mattered.

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