Learning à la Suède – Group work and presentations!

The transition into the style of a Swedish classroom has been, all around, a smooth one. This results in that sometimes I’m not entirely able to notice the little differences between the new system and that to which I was used to before.

As every once in awhile, I was made aware of said adjustment with a course I’m currently taking, called Sustainable Transportation. Among other interesting perks, the course has the particularity of containing one group seminar, one group project and three group home exams. As I had to look for three different partners for each of the home exams, I realized that in my old university there wasn’t such an intense emphasis on joint work as I experience now in Chalmers.

Looking back to a whole year of classes, pretty much all of the courses have been graded in base of group projects done by 3 or more people. As explained in a seminar I attended about Work Culture in Sweden, decisions around here are generally taken by consensus and always under the cultural hat that everyone is equal. This could surely be an explanation for the lack of solo assignments! I think the group work culture is highly beneficial in the sense that it trains us to take into account differing views and allows us to reach conclusions that include these different perspectives.

On the other hand, most of these projects also culminate in an oral presentation, as opposed to the usual hand-in-and-forget-about-it I experienced before. For some this might be unnerving, and I can say that even though I used to greatly enjoy presenting to audiences, the fact that now I have to do it in English adds a whole other dimension to it. However uncomfortable I find it now, I do recognize that it is a useful skill that needs to be developed for our future jobs.

Pondering about the differences of assignment structures between my university in Santo Domingo and Chalmers has left me wondering about the skill-sets that I’ve gained in both… And you, future Chalmerist, which structure do you think is best?