How to Deal with Group Projects
Group projects are inevitable when you’re in college or university. There’s no doubt that most students dread group projects – coordinating with group members can be a pain, you somehow end up doing all the work, and your peers always seem to be lazy, procrastinating, or apathetic.
On the flip side, group projects do help prepare you to deal with people who have different styles of work. While group dynamics can be a hurtle to overcome, a successful project will require that every member is willing to cooperate and contribute. However, group projects don’t have to be something to stress out about or quickly finished the night before it’s due. Follow these helpful tips so you can smoothly handle group projects in college.
Utilize Your First In-Class Meeting
You’re in class and your professor just announced the details of your group project. Usually, the group will get to meet for a little during class. It is important that you use this time wisely since everyone in the group is present and relevant details are fresh in your mind. During this first meeting, it is important that you not only get acquainted with your group members, but also start getting organized. This includes collecting everyone’s contact information, figuring out the best means of communication, brainstorming ideas with all members, and picking a leader.
Designate a Leader
Pick a trustworthy leader who will ensure everyone pulls their weight. With a leader in place, passive members will have more guidance and stay on track with the assignment. A good leader will be open minded, consider everyone’s opinion, and oversee the assignment before the final submission.
Do not be afraid of stepping up and being the leader. This can be a great chance to expand your leadership skills. Remember, you do not have to do all the work, but make sure everything gets completed on time. Instead of asking your teammates to take on work, assign it. Instead of criticizing fellow group members, encourage them. Make a genuine effort to listen to everyone’s ideas and get at least a little acquainted with them.
It is critical to ensure that the team stays on track. Split up the responsibilities and work together. Set clear and measurable guidelines from the start. Establish a timetable so ensure deadlines are met. Consider using tools such as Google Drive or Asana to allocate everyone’s work. This will allow all group members to collaborate simultaneously, which could even eliminate the need for group meetings, and avoid last-minute scrambling.
Communication is Key
Get organized with your means of communication as well. When you work with other people, it is important to keep track of what they are all saying and doing. Utilize communication tools to create a group chat. This can be done with WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Google Hangouts or Slack. The key to a successful team is clear and open communication.
Talk to Your Professor
In the case of an uncooperative team member who refuses to do complete their share of the work, approach your professor (only after you tried solving the problem internally to no success). Usually, professors are aware that some students might not pull their weight, so they can help you find a way to get them involved.
Group projects can sometimes be stressful and create tension, but if you approach it with a positive attitude, they can be a great experience. Be open-minded and set a positive tone for this experience.
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