Find out how to make it work when it comes to group work with our latest guide.
Group work is a great opportunity to analyse, discuss and explore ideas with fellow students, so it features in most degrees. However, if you’ve ever been in a team where certain members don’t contribute to the work, then you might be frustrated when you hear that a group project is looming. Here are three effective strategies to improve group work and get the grade you deserve, even if you would rather work alone.
Set clear goals
At the start of any team project, you should spend your first meeting agreeing on specific targets and setting some ground rules. This will improve your experience working in a group as everyone will understand their contribution to the project.
Decide how often you'll meet, how you'll communicate with each other and how the group will be led. Ask your peers what their strengths are so you can divide the work to match each member’s best skills.
Ensure everyone contributes
While some people are naturally confident in group work situations, others may initially find putting their points forward challenging. If you notice members of the group that aren’t forthcoming with their ideas, why not prompt them for their opinions?
It’s essential to establish roles within a group to make sure the project runs smoothly. Whether you’re better at listening or directing, there’s a role for everyone:
- The leader - ensures the group remains on-task by coordinating resources, assigning tasks and driving members to achieve a positive result.
- The compromiser - attempts to maintain harmony and rapport by resolving any differences of opinion.
- The encourager - energises the team, suggesting ideas and confronting any problems.
- The evaluator - offers a critical analysis of all options before coming to an informed decision.
- The ideas - suggests original and new ways to organise the task or solve problems.
- The recorder - keeps the group focused and organised through timekeeping and note-taking
Unless you want to seriously jeopardise your chances of success, some behaviours should be avoided at all costs. You'll find that your task can quickly go off the rails if even just one participant:
- becomes overly aggressive
- displays unhappiness with any decisions made
- disrespects others and criticises their ideas without suggesting alternatives
- distracts focus by acting the clown
- fails to contribute
- listens too little and interrupts others when they're talking
- talks too much and dominates the discussion
While disagreements are inevitable, it's important not to make things personal. After all, the grade you receive depends on your team and your ability to work together, so it’s important that you can collaborate effectively and put your differences aside.
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