Gangs,Clubs & Soroities - Diverse Students Successful Collaboration: Building Community Understanding through Groups

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Teaching at a large university I wanted students to experience collaboration with diverse peers. Previously, I had used a common method of placing students in groups according to their diverse backgrounds, races and religions. The outcome seemed forced and the collaboration had continuous challenges. I decided to try something totally different. I began grouping students in my courses according to similar criteria such as personality type, learning preferences, and interests. When I grouped by intrinsic qualities the extrinsic differences appeared!

Each semester the first assignment in all of my courses is a series of inventories to collect personal data. The second week of class they are placed in a small group of 3-7 students who they will remain with throughout the semester. Students are grouped by similarities not differences. The commonality of their personalities, learning preferences and interests make their group work noticeably easier and their ideas more unique. This has been quite successful and I was asked to do formal research using this method. I would like an opportunity to share the research results with other universities, colleges or businesses to build collaboration. Speaking engagements give me that platform. I hope to give inspirational and practical data for duplication of this method in numerous settings.

Keywords: Multicultural Education, Collaboration between Diverse People, Intrinsic Similarities, Diverse Groups, Community Building
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Gangs,Clubs and Soroities

Dr. Sara Worley

Assistant Professor of Education, School of Education, Macon State College
Macon, Georgia, USA

Communities where education and diversity succeed wonderfully or fail miserably interest me. I learn from the successful and try to apply it where the needs are immense. That is why I left a larger University to build a brand new School of Education at more rural college here in Georgia. This state ranks as 46th in education out of 50. We have worked hard and our first graduating class May of 2007 scored the highest in the exit exam compared to all other universities in Georgia. Something is working. I hope to share one discovery with your organization because I believe our goals are similar. I have taught and coached for twenty-five years in around the U.S. public and private education. My graduate work has been in Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta in the areas of diversity and special education. I am passionate about this work.

Ref: D08P0300