Chapter 10: Group Diversity and Innovative Thinking: Lessons Learned From a MOOC on Nanotechnology
Published:12 Jul 2023
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide unparalleled opportunities for group work with learners worldwide. Online group work has many challenges, such as generating innovative scientific outcomes in collaboration with peers from diverse backgrounds. Limited study was conducted on group diversity and its association with students’ innovative thinking—the cognitive and social processes that lead to the application of new or significantly improved scientific ideas. Therefore, the goal of this study was to identify the diversity level of groups formed by MOOC learners, and to examine its association with learners’ perceived innovative thinking and group projects’ innovation level. The study was conducted in the context of a MOOC on nanomaterials. Applying the quasi-experimental design, data were collected among higher education science and engineering learners (N = 109) via pre- and post-questionnaires and learners’ scores for group project innovation. Findings indicated a significant positive correlation between group diversity in terms of academic discipline and learners’ perceived innovative thinking. Findings further indicated significant positive correlations between academic discipline diversity, academic level diversity, and group project innovation. Conversely, mother tongue diversity was negatively correlated with group project innovation. This suggests that the level of nanotechnology projects’ innovation depends on learners’ ability to communicate effectively online.