The development of intercultural capability through group work with pharmacy undergraduates
School of Pharmacy, Nottingham University, UK
Internationalisation is a major and increasingly important focus within higher education institutions. Within this context many commentators promote the view that an aim of higher education should be to promote global citizenship. One facet of this is the development of intercultural capability, which may be described as specific changes in one’s knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours.
The paper will examine the potential for the development of intercultural capability within an internationalised higher education institution, using the case of the MPharm (Pharmacy) course.
Interviews with undergraduate students demonstrate how group work is a major factor in the development of student relationships. Group working appears to provide a tangible route for the development of friendships and intercultural learning by cutting across cultural groups and promoting the sharing of different learning styles. Yet, despite the varied and multicultural nature of the student groups, opportunities for intercultural learning appear to be hampered by factors including different approaches to learning; reticence to continue relationships outside of group work; and a lack of confidence or ability in use of the English language;
The experience of group work is viewed by students as preparation for a career in the global pharmacy environment. Crucial to practising effectively as a pharmacist is the ability to communicate and interact with patients, the public and colleagues from a range of cultures and backgrounds and to possess an appreciation of some of the cultural and health beliefs held by patients. The paper will conclude by identifying means by which group work can be used within the course to enhance intercultural interactions and learning, development of global citizenship and hence better prepare students for a future career and life within a global environment.