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Teaching across countries

A virtual, collaborative learning experience for College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences students with students from Halmstad University in Halmstad, Sweden, has thrived during the pandemic.

In fall 2020, WVU sport and exercise psychology students worked with their peers at Halmstad University as part of the SEP 272 course, Psychological Aspects of Sport. Students collaborated on cross-cultural aspects of a sport psychology discussion that promoted deeper cultural understanding.

“Through collaborative online discussion boards, group presentations, assignments and joint Zoom-workshops facilitated by WVU and Halmstad graduate students, the course represented the most advanced and intensive collaborative learning experience thus far in our partnership,” said Scott Barnicle, program coordinator and teaching assistant professor.

Now in the fourth year, Barnicle explained the process: “The planning begins roughly six months in advance of the fall course. Skype meetings, numerous e-mails, drafts of syllabi and assignments and in-person meetings at academic conferences in previous years, have all led to positive and effective partnerships with my Halmstad peers.”  

The class planning progression is a team effort, with faculty members at each institution having equal input on the course agenda. Last year, the partners included graduate students for the first time.

“Graduate assistants had the responsibility of designing and facilitating Zoom workshops on selected cultural topics for our undergraduate students. Our doctoral student worked in collaboration with two master’s-level graduate students at Halmstad University to develop Zoom-workshops, which are the first of their kind in our field and a tremendous addition to our class,” he added.

Although COVID-19 changed the classroom environment at both universities, Barnicle noted that it did not influence their cooperative efforts. “My peers and I have been working jointly from across the Atlantic Ocean for the past four years, so the COVID-19 situation did not have much of an impact on our class. We have already been working via Skype and Zoom for the past four years, and the pandemic did not change our strategy,” he stated.

The cross-cultural and multinational collaboration with Halmstad University over the past decade has featured evolving teaching techniques and tools. “I look forward to the continued growth of the WVU-Halmstad partnership and am excited to lead the study abroad trip to Sweden in spring 2022, marking our sixth such trip,” he added.

Students garnered a fulfilling and unique semester of learning throughout the virtual class.

“Dr. Barnicle’s SEP 272 was an interesting class, due to the course content and international collaboration with Halmstad,” Alex W., a sport and exercise psychology major, stated. “This collaboration allowed me to learn about a different culture and sport psychology at a different university, plus, it gave me the opportunity to share my university and home.

“The seminars held by WVU and Halmstad graduate students were an engaging part of this class. We learned more about the field of sport psychology, as well different perspectives. Discussion boards on Halmstad’s Blackboard were another engaging component that allowed for interaction about course content and a shared interest in sport and exercise psychology. The collaboration with Halmstad makes this class so unique. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience and participate in this course,” Alex said.

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