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Bridge building potential in cross-cultural learning: a mixed method study


Although many international students experience transitional issues, most research assumes that these issues will disappear over time with increased interaction. Using principles of social network theory, this study addressed why some students become bridge builders between international and host students, while others primarily interact with co-national students. In this innovative mixed method study of 81 students from 28 nationalities using dynamic social network analyses combined with embedded case studies of five (potential) bridge builders, the results indicate that students use a range of complex strategies to cope with mixed group work. After 11 weeks, two students stayed as strong bridge builders across groups, two had some bridge building characteristics, and one focussed more on her friends rather than on her assigned group. These findings indicate that even after 3 years of study, international and host students carry on using complex and dynamic social network strategies based on their particular characteristics as well as adaptation to their unique experiences.

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Correspondence to Bart Rienties.

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Rienties, B., Johan, N. & Jindal-Snape, D. Bridge building potential in cross-cultural learning: a mixed method study. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. 16, 37–48 (2015).

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  • Social network analysis
  • Bridge building
  • International students
  • Mixed method
  • Social capital