A shared-syllabus teaching approach

Instructor: Pamela Beach,
Course/Department: Motor Behavior
Institution: SUNY Brockport
Subject: Motor Behavior


With a co-instructor participated in a large COIL collaborative project last fall. Here is some information on that experience:

Many universities use study abroad to help their students obtain these competencies. However, only 20% of students registered at Dutch students study abroad (CBS, 2018) and only 10.7% of U.S. undergraduate students study abroad (IIE 2019). At SUNY Brockport, these percentages are even much lower. Given this realization, and along with the recent travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HEIs have started exploring alternative strategies to ensure that all students can continue to have the opportunity to develop intercultural competencies. One of these strategies, which is recently gaining increased popularity especially within the Netherlands and the U.S.A., is Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL, cf. SUNY COIL, 2019). COIL is a shared-syllabus teaching approach, whereby students are given an assignment which they must complete by collaborating online with international students. COIL falls under the social-constructivist educational approach of Collaborative Learning (defined as a joint intellectual pursuit of a common goal, cf. Janssen, 2014; Dillenbourg 1999). It adds an international dimension to regular face-to face classes and can be applied to any discipline. The focus is on collaborative (online) learning which is a keystone to developing intercultural competence (Guth & Rubin,2015). Last Fall a total of 123 undergraduate level students in four classes participated in a HIP COIL experience, 60 from the Hague University in the Netherlands and 63 from SUNY Brockport. Participants were split into 1. an experimental group and 2. a control group, one from each university. The participants were randomly assigned to groups. Both groups followed the same course i.e. a project class for 10 weeks in which they were assigned the same online collaborative learning assignment i.e. learning a new motor skill. Each group consisted of collaborating teams that worked on the assignment together online. These teams were made up of 6 students each. The teams within the experimental group were made up of three Dutch students and three U.S. students who worked with each other online, i.e. this is the COIL dimension, to complete the assignment. While the teams within the control group worked online with their regular classmates (either Dutch or U.S.) to complete the assignment. Students were given a Pre-course and post – course survey, the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ; Van der Zee & Van Oudenhoven, 2000, 2001; Van der Zee, Zaal, & Piekstra, 2003) and at the end of the course focus group sessions were organized to gain insight into their experiences and intercultural development.

Recommended Number of Students: Has been used with 123 undergraduate students, 6 students in each group
Time Requirements (Approximate): Can be completed in a semester time period

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