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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Understanding Group Learning Processes Using Mixed and Non-mixed Groups in Tertiary Business Classes

Julie Gerstman, Judy Rex.

This study gives an insight into whether the benefits of peer group learning as posited by Biggs (1999) applied to the group learning experience in an Australian University. To do this, exploratory research using depth interviews was conducted with students who worked on an assessment task in small groups of three to four students, in two different business subjects. This research compared the recollections of a mixed group and a non-mixed group, in order to assess if the learning outcomes matched those of effective peer learning, as specified by Biggs (1999). The findings from this research indicated that positive outcomes applied to both groups’ description of their learning experience. The findings also supported claims that the cultural composition of the groups was not a significant factor affecting the group process or the satisfaction of group members. The research suggested that for a productive outcome from a group’s assessment task, students need to have an input into choosing their group members; share a common work ethic; and that they should be required to connect the different parts of a project by demonstrating to the lecturers an understanding of the task as a whole. In response to these findings, the paper suggests ways to assist achieving deep learning outcomes through group assessments.


Julie Gerstman  (Australia)
School of Business, Economics Discipline

Julie Gerstman is a lecturer in Economics and Finance in the School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research interests include developing methods to enhance deep learning in tertiary classes comprising culturally diverse students. Julie has published papers on analysing methods and assessments introduced to achieve deep learning outcomes.

Judy Rex
Lecturer in Marketing
School of Business
Swinburne University of Technology

Judy Rex is a lecturer in the School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology. Judy has recently completed her Masters by Research, which involved researching the decision-making factors that affected the purchasing process for large users of electricity when choosing their electricity supply company. Judy also has an interest in research and teaching in tertiary education and has written papers on the learning process of university students.

  • Student learning,
  • Group work
  • Mixed and non-mixed groups
  • Approaches to learning
  • Deep learning

(30 min Conference Paper, English)