THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL CATEGORIES ON STUDENTS’ SELF-SELECTED GROUP WORK FORMATION IN A PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN MALAYSIA

Ong Sue Lyn

Abstract


When students of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Malaysians and international students from culturally diverse backgrounds work together in group assignments, negotiations on whom to include or exclude would take place during the formation of self-selected groups. Social categories appears to influence students’ choices in group membership during these face-to-face interactions. Set against the backdrop of Intercultural Communication, the objective of this study is to investigate the influence of the specific social categories of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, mother tongue and English language ability on self-selected group work formation. Relying on a basic quantitative approach for a case study, a set of questionnaire with a 5-point Likert-type scale was developed.  Participants were asked whether or not they prefer to work with other participants from the same or similar social categories. The study found that in the formation of self-selected groups, the social categories of age and English language ability are significantly influential.  This study affirms that social categories influence students’ choices in self-selected group work formations.


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