For many students, a group project often is an ordeal. There are chances that you might not get along with other members, or find it challenging to work together. Even worse, you could wind up with a group member who doesn’t contribute much and yet merit from the hard work of others. However, these are the very same reasons that colleges assign group projects.
In the real world, you do not always get to work with your favorite people. Group projects can help encourage you to learn and work effectively as a part of a team, a crucial skill sought after in every workplace. Whether your goal is to write a paper or develop an experiment, group tasks can remarkably prepare you for your career. So instead of dreading the assignment, consider it as one the most rewarding learning experiences of your student life.
Here are a few tips that will help you tackle the group project.
BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION
It is crucial that you are familiar with all members before you get started. So, the first step is to get everyone introduced, along with stating what their strengths and weaknesses are pertaining to the particular topic. At this point, it would also be a good idea to nominate a team leader. This way, someone can be in charge of coordinating all the activities.
You should also exchange all contact information, including emails, phone numbers, and social media handles. You can also go forward by creating a workspace account in one of many collaboration apps. That would facilitate communication, file sharing, and planning of your project.
SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES
Once the members are clear about the task, it is time to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the objectives. In order to achieve that, consider the following.
- What do you aim to achieve by the end of the project?
- When is the assignment due? Make a schedule.
- What are the available resources and how to gather more data?
It is not uncommon for discussions to become unruly, and not every member might get a chance to share their opinion. Try to maintain a positive environment and encourage everyone to speak up.
PLAN AND PREPARE
This stage is where the action starts. Everyone should think about what should be done, how it has to be done, and who has to be assigned on different tasks. Think about taking the following steps:
- Splitting the outline into achievable goals;
- Assigning tasks and sub-tasks for each member;
- Schedule due dates for various tasks;
- Come up with a system to meet regularly, share, and discuss the outcomes.
EXECUTING THE PLAN
As efficient as your planning might look on paper, it is essential the focus throughout its implementation as well. Communication is the key here, especially when your assignment lasts for a long time. Pay attention to the following aspects:
- Ensure that all members of the team are keeping in touch and exchanging progress reports.
- Rules and schedules are to guide you. If you feel the need to change them, modify them along the way as necessary.
- If someone finds it difficult to complete their tasks, try to figure out how to fix the issue. While it is good to be helpful, emphasize that the group relies on everyone to do their part.
- If you have any overwhelming problems in your group or find it challenging to work with a particular group member, do not hesitate to discuss check-in with your professor. It might be awkward doing it, but your professor is not new to such a scenario and might have some insight that is helpful to resolve any group issues.
COMPLETING THE PROJECT
Regardless of whether things go according to your plan or not, be sure to leave enough time in the end for any contingency. If you expect some part of the project not to meet the expectations, you also have to think about alternatives to solve it.
If your project requires a presentation, go through the same process to discuss who will be presenting what. Make sure that everyone gets an equal share of work and enough time to prepare and practice.
If you are required to submit a report at the end, be sure to plan for that as well. It is common for students to not pay much attention to the report, but that might lead to decreased grades. While you can divide the responsibility, it is best to nominate a member to handle the final piece, particularly someone who is good at writing. This will guarantee the same writing style and a sense of organization in the report.
Towards the end, reexamine the whole project to ensure that there are no loose ends.
A group project can be beneficial to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. It can help you develop and practice critical thinking, decision making, negotiation, conflict resolution, and teamwork. Consider it as an opportunity to build your interpersonal skills, and most likely, you will have a fruitful and enjoyable experience out of it.