Enhancing Intercultural Teaching Competence

To work effectively with the increasingly diverse student populations, educators at Queen’s University are expected to enhance intercultural teaching competence (ITC) as a direct response to the Global Engagement Strategic Plan.

What is Intercultural Teaching Competence?

“Intercultural Teaching Competence is the ability of instructors to interact with students in a way that supports the learning of students who are linguistically, culturally, socially, or in other ways different from the instructor or from each other, across a very wide definition of perceived difference and group identity.”
(Dimitrov, Dawson, Meadows & Olsen, 2014, P. 89)

Intercultural teaching competence enables educators in higher education to1, 2, 3:

  • –bridge cultural, linguistic and many other forms of gaps in the classroom to enable learning
  • –establish meaningful relationships with and amongst students to promote engagement
  • –facilitate dialogues about critical global issues in a respectful, inclusive, and appropriate manner
  • –promote multiple perspectives when selecting content, readings, and learning activities

Three Interrelated Components of Intercultural Teaching Competence

Adapted from Dimitrov et al.1 and Dimitrov & Haque3

Foundational Competence

  • knowledge of one's own positionality as an educator
  • ability to respond effectively to diversity in the classroom

Facilitation Competence

  • ability to create a safe, inclusive learning environment and promote dialogue in the classroom

Curriculum Design Competence

  • ability to enrich the curriculum with diverse perspectives, paradigms, and/or approaches

Read more about the components of Intercultural Teaching Competence.

The three components of ITC work together as a framework for educators to reflect on practices of teaching and learning in terms of:

  • –recognizing how ITC has already been incorporated
  • –identifying areas for continuous development
  • –exploring new approaches to enhance ITC

Enhancing Intercultural Teaching Competence


  1. Positionality in Teaching
  2. Communication in the Intercultural Classroom
  3. Intercultural Group Work
  4. Globally Engaged Curriculum

Positionality in Teaching4

Positionality refers to where we are located in relation to our various social identities (i.e., gender, race, class, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, class, etc.); the combination of these identities and their intersections shape how we understand and engage with the world, including our knowledges, perspectives, and teaching practices. As individuals and educators, we occupy multiple identities that are fluid and dialogical in nature, contextually situated, and continuously amended and reproduced5. Our experiences in life, school, and the broader world can be starkly different from those of our students due to the differences in our positionalities.

Positionality matters in teaching because all knowledge is socially constructed and taught from particular perspectives6. Therefore, knowledge is not neutral, objective, or free of human interests—nor is teaching. They both are situated, produced, and positioned in relation to all kinds of locations and relationships we, as educators, inhabit7. In accordance, our positionality influences all aspects of our course design, delivery, and assessment, including:

  • –What is taught (content)?
  • –How is it taught (practices and activities)?
  • –What is evaluated and how (assignments, etc.)?

These choices significantly impact how we may or may not be supporting the success of students from diverse backgrounds that are different from our own. We might not always be able to relate to students’ challenges due to our different identities and experiences. This inevitably leads to obstacles to further learning, relationship building, and knowledge creation.

As a ‘positionality in teaching’ reflection activity, take a few minutes to answer the following questions. These questions are developed with inspiration of the Three Pillars of Internationalization8 and the Indigenous 4Rs of Relevance, Reciprocity, Respect, and Responsibility9.

Who Am I?

  1. What social identities (i.e., race, gender, sexual orientation, age, social class, ability, linguistic background, etc.) do I identify with?
  2. How do my social identities inform my teaching in terms of disciplinary canon, instructional strategies, and classroom dynamics?
  3. In what ways do my social identities contribute to how I develop curriculum including learning outcomes, assessment, and content?

Who Benefits from My Course?


  1. Whose history, ways of knowing, practices, and cultures are represented in this course?  
  2. Who is missing?   


  1. Whose perspective, background, and experience are valued and appreciated in this course?  
  2. Whose are dismissed?   


  1. Who benefits from this course and achieves desired learning outcomes?  
  2. Who faces barriers and struggles?


  1. Who is privileged and has agency in this course?
  2. Who feels powerless and marginalized?     

What Can I Do to Make a Difference?


  • How can I incorporate different ways of being, thinking, and knowing to enable learning and enhance student success?


  • What approaches should I employ to recognize, appreciate, and respond effectively to different perspectives, knowledges, and practices to address diverse backgrounds and experiences?


  • How can I connect with students in meaningful ways, help build learning communities, and share leadership?


  • What are the opportunities to challenge the Euro-American focus dominating the subject/discipline, and create new paradigms to bridge gaps and/or barriers in learning?

Please Note: questions inspired by the Indigenous 4Rs are developed in consultation with Lindsay Brant, Educational Developer-Indigenous Curriculum and Ways of Knowing, Centre for Teaching & Learning. These Indigenous knowledges are used with respect and appreciation for educational purposes. They remain the cultural property of the Indigenous Peoples from whom they originate.

To learn more about positionality in teaching, please check the Positionality Statement RISE Module.

Communication in the Intercultural Classroom

Despite the critical role communication plays in academic interactions, communicating in a culturally diverse classroom often results in misunderstandings or conflicts. Building (or enhancing) intercultural communication competence (ICC) is one helpful approach for educators to work effectively with diversity.

Definition of Intercultural Communication Competence

In the field of education, ICC is defined as “abilities to understand [and respect for different] cultures, including one's own, and use this understanding [and respect] to communicate effectively with students from diverse cultures”10.

While ICC enables educators to facilitate dialogues and promote engagement in culturally diverse classes, we must be cautious to avoid cultural stereotypes. But instead, base communications with students on observations, not on assumptions to prevent unnecessary feelings of ambiguity and confusion.  

Cultivating Intercultural Communication Competence

At the heart of what we do to cultivate ICC is to promote cultural humility in Queen’s classrooms and on Queen’s campus. To build and achieve ICC, educators can benefit from:

  1. establishing awareness of one’s own cultural values and biases
  2. continuously gaining cultural knowledge
  3. practicing intercultural communication skills

Intercultural Awareness

Intercultural awareness refers to “the ability to effectively and appropriately execute communication behaviors that negotiate each other’s cultural identity or identities in a culturally diverse environment”12, p. 28. In general, there are two steps associated with developing intercultural awareness as educators.

First, we explore our own values, beliefs, and world views, as some of them may be culturally biased13. It is crucial that we become cognizant of the existing gaps in expectations and assumptions about education between us and students14. Developing a thorough understanding of our own academic beliefs and teaching philosophies helps us break down cultural barriers and appreciate students who are different.

Second, we come to realize that our own culture doesn’t always have the answer15. Cultures that differ from what’s prevalent at Queen’s are not deviant or wrong. They are just different and are of great value if viewed through the lens of cultural humility. In thinking of teaching and learning, judgement should be avoided when different academic expectations and/or behaviours are encountered. Students from diverse learning experiences are capable of following Queen’s academic expectations, but these academic expectations need to be made explicit for them to learn.

To summarize, intercultural awareness enables educators to13:

  1. Move from being culturally unaware to being culturally aware and respecting cultural differences
  2. Become cognizant of our own cultural values and biases, and their effect on how we communicate and teach
  3. Be sensitive to circumstances involving sociodemographic variables, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth; mediate personal biases and avoid stereotypes

As an ancient Chinese pearl of wisdom says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one initial step.” Educators at Queen’s are encouraged to begin with identifying our own cultural values and biases. The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is a great tool curated to help us in this effort. Our colleague Alison Cummings, Learning & Development Specialist in Human Resources, is a certified facilitator of IDI workshops as well as assessment. Please feel free to contact Alison at ac23@queensu.ca to arrange an IDI assessment if interested.  

The Cultural-Competence Self-Assessment Checklist is another tool that we could use to briefly understand our own intercultural sensitivity and competence.
Furthermore, here are some tips on enhancing intercultural awareness13, 14:

  • develop mindfulness: be conscious of cultural differences in class rather than overlooking them
  • build comfort with ambiguity: take time to explore and expect some uncertainty when communicating in an intercultural classroom
  • become student-oriented: try to think from students’ perspectives; be patient and empathetic

Cultural Knowledge

Developing intercultural awareness serves as the primary step towards cultivating intercultural communication competence. Intentional and continuous gaining of cultural knowledge composes another critical approach that enables educators to13:

  1. Avoid cultural stereotypes by focusing on observations when communicating with students
  2. Be aware that messages from students may be misinterpreted based on multiple factors
  3. Identify barriers that prevent students from accessing learning resources and opportunities in class

In this section, we will focus on discovering the different communication styles our students may bring into the classroom. As the prerequisite, we will firstly explore the Basic One-direction Intercultural Communication Model16.

A red box: Cultural Filter: "Person A" stick figure person with a communication box: 1) Formulate message to send; 2) Send the message using verbal and non-verbal cues. Arrows between Red box and Blue Box: Cultural Filter: "Person B" stick figure person with a communication box: 3) Recieve the verbal and non-verbal cues; 4) Interpret the message from the cues.

According to LaRoche & Rutherford (2007), it takes at least two people to make a conversation. In an intercultural conversation, Person A (for example, the instructor) formulates a message to send, and they send the message using both verbal and non-verbal cues rooted in their cultural filter (i.e., thought patterns, communication styles, and other cultural norms or regulations). Person B (for example, a student) receives the verbal and non-verbal cues A sent out and immediately interprets them using their own cultural filter which is different from A’s.

This model explains clearly to us why intercultural communication is a challenging task, as it is easy for messages to be misinterpreted or even distorted going back and forth through different cultural filters. To a large extent, we could regard all communication as intercultural communication because each one of us is a unique cultural being. To communicate effectively in an intercultural classroom, consider modifying our use of verbal and non-verbal cues and if necessary, correct any misinterpretation through paraphrasing, summarizing and recapping17.

Bearing the basic one-direction intercultural communication model in mind, let’s explore both the verbal and non-verbal cues as barriers to intercultural communication. The former is often projected in the different communication styles we (and students alike) resort to when interacting in the classroom. Here is one example of how we may convey messages or information differently in communication.

Communication Style Example: Direct and Circular17

Direct Communication: - straightforward messages; - Directness is perceived as an apprach tht shows honesty and respect for the interlocutor; - avoid ambiguity. Circular Communication: - meaning conveyed by subtle means, stories; - Frequent use of implication; - beaing indirect express politeness and respect for interlocutor; - requests for help are often make very indirectly, through implication

Some of us may be direct and straightforward in communication, while others may be indirect and use circular approaches. When we study these two communication styles (and other styles too), it is critical that we view it through a continuum instead of a dichotomy or oppositional binary. Our ways of communication fall on a wide spectrum of interactions between these two styles, and how we communicate is highly contextual. It rarely happens that we apply one style over the other in real life communication. More likely, our ways of communication fit somewhere on the continuum, and they are dynamic.

In this light, we need to avoid attaching communication styles to any specific nationality. For example, we cannot claim that Canadian students are direct communicators because it denies the lived experiences of indirect speakers in the student group. There exist both direct and indirect communicators in our class, and each one of us communicates differently in different situations.  

Here is a review of other communication styles. Please remember to apply the view of continua instead of dichotomies.

Non-verbal cues, on the other hand, refer to eye contact, body language, gesture, touch, facial expression, display of emotions, and other forms of non-verbal communication16. However, there exist no universal rules when it comes to interpreting non-verbal cues. Even simple nodding or shaking hands could mean very different things across cultures. To be more specific, a firm and strong handshake, although is generally considered appropriate in the Canadian concept, may be interpreted as being aggressive in personality in other cultures. Moreover, direct eye contact may represent a disrespectful behaviour in some cultures while in many Canadian contexts, avoiding eye contact in conversations can be interpreted as a sign of lying or hiding something16.

To summarize, in order to communicate effectively in a culturally diverse classroom, educators are encouraged to11:

  • seek information: intentionally and continuously learn about different cultures represented in class
  • ask questions and listen effectively: reduce uncertainty and ambiguity by asking for clarification, and listening actively to the answer
  • focus on relationship building: create common ground in class and establish meaningful relationships with students

On top of verbal and non-verbal cues, there exist many other forms of barriers that prevent effective communication from happening. These barriers include but are not limited to negative emotions (i.e., fear, anxiety, and distrust), physical environments that are noisy, uncomfortable, and lacking privacy, and the restrictions of time18. To engender effective communication, it is vital that educators establish a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment in class and build trust with students. In addition, the physical environment and time factors should be considered prior to having formal conversations with students.  

To establish a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment in class, review the strategies found under "Identifying best practice to support international students" on our Supporting International Student Success Page.

Intercultural Communication Skills

To cultivate intercultural communication competence, intercultural awareness and cultural knowledges need to be put into practice.

Developing intercultural communication skills is a lengthy progress, a learning curve, and an exploring journey that requires intended practice and constant reflection. At the beginning stage of the journey, educators may benefit from adopting and/or adapting some communicative models and then gradually move beyond that stage to develop our own styles in intercultural communication.
Here are three recommended communication models for consideration, adoption, or adaption.

A. The ODIS Model19

4 overlapping circles with a word in each: Observe, Describe, Interpret, Suspend Judgement

Observe: When facing a reaction, response, or behaviour that is not expected, step back and catch any judgment that may cloud our ability to see other possibilities.

Describe: What is happening? Notice the full context (i.e., physical setting, timing, atmosphere, etc.) of the situation. Use factual and non-debatable descriptions to avoid conclusion or judgment.  

Interpret: Consider possible explanations of what is happening. Think beyond our own view and expand thinking to include how others may look at the situation through different lenses.

Suspend Judgment: While engaging in all of the steps above, suspend certainty of what makes sense. Stay neutral and objective at best.

B. Something is Up Cycle20

graph showing 4 circles with arrows pointing between them in a clockwise order

Notice Something is Up: What happened that triggered a “something’s up” response?

Suspend Judgement: What judgments and conclusions may first come to mind?

Make Sense: What might be contributing to the situation, i.e., different communication styles, diverse ways of knowing, etc.?

Informed Action: Now that what might be contributing to the situation have been explored. How to appropriately address the situation?

C. The Star Approach11

An Orange Star with "The Start Approach" in the center with a word/phrace at each point: Top: STOP; Middle Right: LOOK; Bottom Right: LISTEN/FEEL; Bottom Left: DON'T ASSUME; Middle Left: ASK

Stop: In situations of ambiguity and discomfort, our natural tendency is to speed up and extricate from the uncomfortable situations. In fact, the opposite needs to be implemented, that is, to slow down and reflect.

Look & Listen: Observe and listen to the conversations that are happening. What’s their communication style?

Feel: Feel the atmosphere. Is it friendly, or hostile?

Don’t Assume: Making assumptions is the most natural thing we tend to do, but how to do the opposite?

Ask: If in doubt or in need of clarification, make sure to ask.

To summarize , based on the different communicative models, there are a few actions that educators can take to engender effective intercultural communication11:

  • avoid negative judgments: resist thinking that our own culture, including communication style, has all the answers, and avoid weighing culture on the “right or wrong” scale
  • grow flexibility: check our perceptions about what students say because our perceptions tend to be rooted in cultural bias and value system; adjust the perceptions when needed
  • adapt how we communicate: adjust our ways of communication to effectively respond to students’ needs and expectations

Other Strategies for Communicating Effectively in an Intercultural Classroom11:

  1. Empathy is key; there is always more to what appears.
  2. Don’t act on negative feelings.
  3. Awareness is 50% of the solution.
  4. Patience is a virtue.
  5. Listening carefully and asking questions to clarify ambiguity and misinterpretations.  
  6. Continuously monitor the impact of different communication styles on students.
  7. Separate impact from intention; the former is what matters.
  8. Engage in ongoing reflection regarding cultural sensitivity; learn different cultures from students.
  9. Understand that being helpful or respectful means different things to different students.
  10. Be sensitive to issues of power, trust, and respect in the relationship with students; identify the boundaries.

Intercultural Group Work

Intercultural interaction and engagement in class have a number of benefits for all students, including developing intercultural awareness and practicing communication skills. In addition, such engagement provides students, particularly international students, with a greater sense of belonging in class, which has a positive impact on their learning achievements20.

While the increasing presence of international students and students from diverse experiences has enhanced opportunities for intercultural interaction in post-secondary classrooms in Canada, both anecdotal and research evidence have shown that spatial proximity does not necessarily result in meaningful collaboration between students across cultural, linguistic, and educational backgrounds22.

To support Queen’s educators in enhancing group work, the Centre for Teaching and Learning has adapted the Intercultural Collaboration for Learning Framework23 as a resource. This framework is composed of six interrelated components. Each represents particular teaching aspects and learning opportunities associated with interactions between students of different backgrounds23, 24.

A circle with 5 sections and in the middle in a pentagram "Planning Collaboration" Moving around the image from top clockwise: Supporting Collaboration, Incorporating Reflective Porcesses, Creating An Environment to Collaborate, Assessing Collaboration, and Forming Intercultural Groups.

(Adapted from Arkoudis, S., et al., 2010)

Six Interrelated Components

  1. Planning collaboration
  2. Forming intercultural groups
  3. Supporting collaboration
  4. Creating an environment to collaborate
  5. Incorporating reflective processes  
  6. Assessing collaboration

1. Planning Collaboration23, 25
Planning is the first and foremost step to foster engagement and interactions among students from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Formalizing intercultural collaboration in the classroom can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Identify the instructional objectives
    • determine what students need to achieve through collaboration (i.e., knowledge to develop, skills to practice, etc.)
    • align student group work with course learning outcome/s
  • Engage with subject knowledge
    • engage students with the subject knowledge through learning from each other (e.g., prior knowledge, experiences, and values)
  • Design collaboration in multiple forms
    • keep students’ diverse approaches to learning in mind while planning intercultural group work (i.e., pairs, small groups, large groups, online synchronous and/or asynchronous, etc.)
  •  Build in individual accountability
    • structure individual accountability into group work to help monitor student learning; this also helps to prevent the “free-rider”

2. Forming Intercultural Groups25, 26
Randomly assigning students to groups by counting off and grouping them according to numbers is the quickest approach, especially for large classes. To vary group composition and increase diversity within groups, here are a few factors to consider:

  • Decide on group size
    • there are no firm rules; the size of a group should be shaped by the project’s objectives, the number of students, and the variety of voices needed within a group
  • Decide who selects group members
    • the responsibility for selecting group members can be viewed as a continuum between the instructor and students
  • Decide on roles
    • members of the groups need a specific role in the task to fairly balance the workload
  • Develop a contingency plan for changes in group members
    • consider in advance what alternative work is feasible for groups just in case group membership changes (i.e., a member withdraws from the course)

3. Supporting Collaboration23, 24, 26
The goal of supporting collaboration is to help students understand the purpose of intercultural engagement and interactions and develop associated skills to work effectively with peers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

  • Introduce group work
    • don't assume students understand the benefits of intercultural engagement; explicitly communicate these to students (e.g., explain the connection to learning outcomes/goals)
    • describe clearly with students what they need to do in group work and what the final product may look like
  • Set ground rules
    • establish principles such as respect, active listening, and methods for decision making, etc.
    • consider using a group contract
  • Monitor group work
    • communicate clearly with students what the instructor can/cannot do to help with group work
    • help facilitate group cohesion as students work best together if they get to know each other beforehand
    • monitor the groups but do not hover
  • Devote time specifically to teamwork skills
    • don’t assume students already know how to work in intercultural groups
    • help student develop skills to work effectively together

4. Creating environments to collaborate23
Intercultural collaboration in higher education goes beyond pedagogical practices but focuses more on student experiences. Students generally feel more comfortable interacting with one another in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive classroom environment.

  • Use icebreakers
    • icebreakers help students feel comfortable working with each other and establish openness and trust
    • when planning icebreakers, consider the amount of time available as well as the ultimate goals (i.e., ask students to simply introduce themselves or get to know their prior learning experience, etc.)
  • Encourage students to move beyond their regular social groups
    • allocate seating or ask students to sit with someone they have not talked to and/or worked with before
    • structure activities that require students to work with peers from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds
  • Create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment
    • make the classroom a place where students feel secure and encouraged to try new ways of learning
    • increase students’ willingness in interacting with peers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds

Read more strategies about establishing a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment in class on our Supporting International Student Success Page, under "Identifying best practice to support international students".

5. Incorporating reflective processes23, 27
To make meaningful learning happen, students need to take steps back and reflect on their collaboration process. A few strategies that encourage students to critically reflect on their learning processes include, but are not limited to:

  • Reflecting on one’s own role in making contributions to a group project. This reflection encourages students to develop skills in self-assessment, which is critical for academic success both within and beyond the course.
  • Critically analyzing and reflecting on the group learning process, including how students interacted with each other and how they incorporated or negotiated diverse perspectives and approaches that lead to more effective peer learning.
  • Examining one’s own approaches to knowledge and exchanging ideas with peers about intercultural collaboration helps students develop a heightened understanding and a sense of compassion for others who learn differently.

When students are intentionally involved in reflecting on what they have learned in an intercultural collaboration, they may become more willing to:

  • –move beyond individual understanding and perceptions
  • –begin to look at the world from a non-self perspective
  • –develop open-mindedness
  • –utilize the knowledge base available within the community of diverse learners
  • –practice intercultural communication skills
  • –interact more effectively with students from diverse backgrounds

Moreover, effective critical reflections can be encouraged by asking students to:  

  • analyze and synthesize ideas to prepare feedback for peers
  • –offer constructive feedback that support their own learning
  • –reflect on their own approaches to knowledge and the different perspectives that informed them

The types of reflections vary in length and complexity, for example:

  • –complete a checklist
  • –itemized scoring sheet
  • –write a reflective essay

6. Assessing collaboration24, 26, 28
Most principles of assessment that apply to individual work also apply to group work as well, but assessing group work has added challenges. First, depending on the objectives of the group work, educators might want to assess the group’s final product (e.g., report, presentation, etc.), the collaboration processes, or both. Second, group performance has to be translated into individual grades, which often raises issues of fairness.  

Therefore, in addition to evaluating the group’s output, educators need to find ways to determine how groups functioned and the extent to which individuals contributed to the effort. This isn’t always easy, but there are some general principles for guidance and/or reference.

  • Assess individual as well as group learning and performance
    • assess individual student’s learning and performance in addition to the group’s output
    • ensure both group and individual performance are reflected in the total project grade
  • Assess process as well as product
    • assess both process (how students worked together) and product (the work they produced)
    • rely on groups to self-report using:  
      • group evaluation (each member of the group evaluates the dynamics of the team as a whole)
      • peer evaluation (each member evaluates the contributions of their peers)
      • self-evaluation (each member documents and evaluates their own contributions to the group)
  • Make assessment criteria and grading scheme clear
    • clearly articulate the criteria of intercultural group work to help students understand the goals and expectations
    • give students rubrics for both group work and individual work before they start working together
    • use the rubrics to provide meaningful feedback during and at the end of the collaboration

Group work assessments can be either quantitative or qualitative. They can be done as reflective writing or short questionnaires targeting specific dimensions of the intercultural collaboration. To determine the ways of assessment, it is important for educators to consider the following questions:

  • which assessment tools suit the purpose and context of the group work?
  • –how to allow students to use various means (i.e., writing, video, presentation, portfolio, etc.) to demonstrate their learning?
  • –when the assessment will be used (in the middle of the semester or at the end or both)?  
  • –who should see it (instructors only or other members of the group)?  
  • –if the assessment should be anonymous?
  • –who assigns the grade (students, instructors, or both)?

It’s also critical for educators to contemplate how to weigh the various components of group work in the grading scheme. Consider the questions below:  

  • what percentage of the student’s total grade will be based on the group’s performance vs. individual components?  
  • –what percentage will be based on assessments of product vs. process?  
  • –how much weight will be given to group evaluation, peer evaluation and/or self-evaluation?

Read Promoting Intercultural Engagement and Collaborations in the Classroom Handbook (PDF, 1.3MB) for more information about the Intercultural Collaboration for Learning Framework.

To help students work effectively with one another in intercultural group work, educators may consider encouraging all students to seek opportunities to develop intercultural awareness and competence that will enable them to collaborate effectively in class. The Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) offers the Intercultural Awareness Certificate for both students and staff.

Intercultural Group Work Toolkit

To support students in working effectively with one another during group work, Student Academic Success Services (SASS) has curated some practical tools that educators at Queen’s may consider adapting and/or implementing.

Group Work Resource

  • A student-oriented guide to group work skills, inc. planning, communication, forming groups, intercultural questions, and conflict resolution

How could educators use it?

  • Include link in assignment instructions
  • Assign all or part of the resource for a tutorial discussion
  • Encourage students to write a reflection paper on the resource and their skills or past experiences

Team Skills Assessment

  • A self-assessment tool using a Likert scale for desirable soft skills for teamwork, e.g. communication, understanding cultural norms, leadership styles, etc.

How could educators use it?

  • Ask students to complete before group work begins (non-graded mandatory assignment)
  • Encourage students to share their strengths and weaknesses in first group meetings

Asset Mapping Activity

  • A system for enabling and supporting shared growth among group members
  • Students consider not just who is “best” for a task but who would like to improve their skills in that area

How could educators use it?

  • Use in tandem with Team Skills Assessment
  • Encourage students to produce/submit a project completion plan after 1-2 group meetings
  • As part of plan, students should map out who will support whom

Looking for more support for students? SASS offers group work training for students based on educators’ request. Please contact SASS at academic.success@queensu.ca for more information about this service. Students can also receive one-on-one support by booking an academic skills appointment.

The group work handouts curated by Carnegie Mellon University may also be helpful. These handouts are categorized as below and can be accessed through the sample group project tools webpage.

  • Group resumes and skills inventories
  • Team contracts
  • Team roles
  • Self-assessments
  • Peer assessments
  • Group assessments

Globally Engaged Curriculum

One key approach to enriching curricula with diverse perspectives, paradigms, and pedagogies is developing globally engaged curriculum. To help educators across disciplines envision what a globally engaged curriculum might look like in their subject field and academic context, the Centre for Teaching & Learning (CTL) has developed a few resources to support educators in this effort.

To access the resources, please check the Developing Globally Engaged Curriculum section.


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