No matter where you are in your academic career, group assignments are always difficult. However, being able to work collaboratively with people you may not see eye-to-eye with is a skill that will benefit you across your work and study. Group work provides a great opportunity to improve communication and problem-solving skills.
Here are some tips to make sure you get through group assignments with great marks and your sanity intact.
Starting as early as possible means you have lots of time to make edits and hand in the best work you can. You’ll get this tip for every assignment you ever do, but it’s especially important for group work. Starting early means you can set clear expectations, assign roles and remove any confusion early in the process. It also gives you time to figure out what you may need support for to complete your portion of work. Also, planning your schedule early means there are no excuses for not getting work done – for you or your group.
Keep in Contact
COVID-19 means that you likely aren’t spending a lot of time together in person, but there are no excuses to not keep in contact. Whatever form of contact suits the group – whether that be creating a group chat or a private Facebook group or setting a weekly time for a Zoom meeting – make sure you are putting aside time to check in with each other and keeping each other on track.
Google Drive is a really great tool for group work because multiple people can contribute to a document, slideshow or spreadsheet in real-time, and leave comments on other people’s portions or ask for advice. Using Google Drive also means you don’t have to worry about wiping out each other’s work and track who is responsible for contributing different things.
Trust Your Group Members
Being a part of a group means not always being in control. Everyone works in different ways and it’s important to respect their opinions and directions. Being overbearing in a group environment is never going to lead to productive, conversive learning so make sure you’re leaving room for your group members to share their opinions and contribute to your project. So long as deadlines are being met and you’re reaching the standards of work outlined in the planning stage, there are no benefits to micro-managing group members or even taking on extra work. Trusting that your group members can take on feedback and will meet deadlines will only make your life easier.
Make sure everyone is doing their part – keeping in regular contact means you can always touch base and get any help you may need. If someone isn’t responding to messages or contributing to the assignment, make sure your teacher is aware and can follow up. Group assignments aren’t meant to be completed by one person: make sure you aren’t taking on extra because someone isn’t pulling their weight.
Talk to Your Lecturer
This seems like a really obvious tip, but it’s one that not enough students utilise. Talk to your teachers! That’s what they’re there for! Make sure you’re staying on track and meeting their goals for the assignment and keep them up to date with what your plans are. Opening lines of communication early in the process means that you are always staying on top of what their expectations are for different areas of the project and will only improve your final output.