The teams seem to be getting somewhere at the project. Great! There are some unspoken difficulties though which are common in a way, but very new to me as well. First: they’re not working as teams yet, more like individuals who, it has to be said, want to get the best results possible. In that quest it seems that the bold and outspoken students take the lead and the others are trying to catch up being intimidated a bit.
Second: there seems to be some other form of intimidation at play as well. Not in an active way, nobody is consciously intimidating anybody, but more in a passive way. Some behave intimidated by the actions and words of others. The active, more outspoken students are not just the more ‘assertive types’, they are also the students who are native speakers of English. This year is the first year that I find more than one student from the US or the Commonwealth in my groups and it is great. Conversations are context rich, funny and abundant. As a non native English speaker I am also aware of a subconscious process within me. Because of their fluency and natural accent (just like the movies!) I tend to take them more seriously. This is unwanted but very natural and it probably also happens when non native Dutch speakers talk to me in my mother tongue. I wonder if the students, all students realise that a dynamic like this might be taking place. What would it be like if they did realise and have a conversation about how they unwontedly effect each other?
If they read this, I hope it can be an opening or conversation starter in their next meeting. This article (please click) may also help in pointing out what might be happening. If they don’t read I’ll certainly start with it in our next tutor meeting.