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International students’ transition to university: Connection and disconnection in online group work interactions


An Australian higher education experience often includes group work as an important social learning opportunity. For international students, taking part in a group assignment can positively influence learning and adjustment to the new cultural and educational context through social interaction. However, students are increasingly choosing to use digital technologies to participate in group assignments, which may impact on opportunities available to make social connections with peers. This study investigated the experiences of 26 international students as they transitioned to study at an Australian university about their use of social media for group assignments and their resulting perceptions of connection to classmates. Analysis of the results suggests that students who engaged in collaborative rather than cooperative interactions via social media were more likely to perceive a connection to their classmates. This has implications for educators to include classroom modelling of digitally-mediated collaborative interactions to benefit students’ participation in group assignments, which can improve the transition experience through social connection.

Published: 2019-08-09
Pages:35 to 45
How to Cite
Sleeman, J., Lang, C., & Dakich, E. (2019). International students’ transition to university: Connection and disconnection in online group work interactions. Student Success, 10(2), 35-45.

Author Biographies

La Trobe University
Australia Australia

Jade Sleeman works in Student Transition Achievement and Retention in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce at La Trobe University. She is currently completing her PhD on international students’ uses of social media in their transition to university.

La Trobe University
Australia Australia

Dr Catherine Lang is Associate Professor (Honorary) in the School of Education, at La Trobe University. Her research is focused on Information and Communication Technologies, with recent projects on primary school students’ Cybersafety awareness and preservice teachers’ uses of digital tools for creativity

La Trobe University
Australia Australia

Eva Dakich PhD, is an Academic in 21st Century Teacher Education and Postgraduate Research Training at Victoria and La Trobe Universities in Melbourne, Australia. Eva has worked as a researcher on projects of national significance, such as the Smith Family's Tech-Packs Project, and the Technology Enriched Curriculum Project (TECP), a Closing the Gap initiative. She has published widely about the implications of digital technologies on learning, teaching, pedagogical transformation and social participation.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795