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Changing Social Norms to Foster the Benefits of Collaboration in Diverse Workgroups

Binning, KR and Kaufmann, Nancy and McGreevy, Erica and Fotuhi, Omid and Chen, Susie and Marshman, Emily and Kalender, ZY and Limeri, Lisa and Betancur, Laura and Singh, Chandralekha Changing Social Norms to Foster the Benefits of Collaboration in Diverse Workgroups. (Unpublished)

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Although collaboration is essential for advancing science and maximizing human performance, collaboration in demographically diverse groups has often proven ineffective and sometimes harmful for negatively stereotyped group members. Here we report the results of a two randomized field experiments that sought to change social norms in an effort to realize the benefits of demographic diversity in collaborative workgroups. Separate experiments were conducted in undergraduate Biology (N=1215) and Physics (N=607) courses that were already employing small-group collaboration (3-4 students) during weekly study sections. At the beginning of the semester, study sections were assigned to receive either the intervention or business-as-usual control activities. The 30-minute intervention used narrative writing, peer testimonials, and small group discussion to establish a local norm that social and academic struggles are normal, anxiety about belonging is common, and most students eventually overcome these challenges. At the end of the semester, students who worked in diverse groups reported more positive social experiences in the intervention compared to control condition. Behaviorally, average attendance was higher in study sections that received the intervention, as was persistence in college after one year. Finally, students in each context theorized to be high in belonging uncertainty showed performance benefits, as the intervention closed the ethnic group performance gap in Biology classrooms and the gender performance gap in Physics classrooms. The results illustrate how social experiences in collaborative groups can be engineered to help realize the benefits of diversity.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Binning, KRkbinning@pitt.eduKBINNING0000-0002-5396-4183
Kaufmann, Nancy
McGreevy, Erica
Fotuhi, Omid
Chen, Susie
Marshman, Emily
Kalender, ZY
Limeri, Lisa
Betancur, Laura
Singh, Chandralekha
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Refereed: No
Uncontrolled Keywords: social belonging intervention, mindset intervention, cooperative learning
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2019 18:16
Last Modified: 01 May 2020 12:59


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