“This module will include group work”. Something that I’m sure many of us dread hearing at university. This may be because you prefer working on your own or because you’ve had a bad group work experience before. Group work brings different personalities together and these can sometimes clash, I’ve compiled a few tips to help get you through the group work and out of the other end smiling!
1. Make sure everyone understands the assignment
When the project is first assigned, the most important thing is to make sure everyone understands what is needed and when by. Making sure all group members are on the same page early on is essential to good group work. Get to know a little bit about all the group members and where they feel their strengths will lie within the project.
2. Spilt up tasks and create a team
Once you’ve determined what people’s strengths are, you can use them to make your project a success. Some people may be creative, some may enjoy writing, some may prefer to present the presentation (if this is part of your task). If you can split the work up evenly between yourselves and utilise everyone’s strengths, it makes the whole process run a lot smoother.
3. Encourage participation
Sometimes during group work, it’s easy for people to feel as if their ideas are not valued or are not being listened to. Always try to encourage members to talk about their ideas and if you don’t agree with them, try to say this in a non judgemental, constructive way….so explain why you don’t think that’s the right idea for the project or what you could change slightly to make it the right idea. Trying to compromise on ideas is always better than saying no outright. Challenge opinions respectfully and always be open to other members’ points of view.
Communication is key to group tasks! You will never have a good group work experience unless you communicate. Stay in regular contact with group members and keep everyone up to date with anything that is happening. I’ve always found creating a WhatsApp or Facebook chat group is an easy way to keep group work chat in one place. Try to meet up regularly as well, having a message group is good but messages can often be taken in a different manner to which they are meant. Meeting up as a group is good for brainstorming and developing the project.
5. Don’t try to take charge immediately
I get it, some people are naturally ‘leaders’. Try not to be the person who walks into group work and immediately tries to take charge, this can cause problems within the group from the start that may be hard to rectify later on. Everyone within the group should be equal and often one person ‘taking charge’ is great for organisation but when there is more than one person who wants to be the ‘leader’, this can often lead to clashes. Everyone should work together to ensure the project is completed. A ‘leader’ may naturally emerge throughout the weeks, and that is a much better way than someone assuming they will be from the start.
6. Pull your weight
It can be easy during group work for someone to take on a lot of the tasks and for others to not do much. This isn’t fair on the other members and can often lead to resentment. If you are assigned a task within the group, keep up with the work for it and have it completed by the relevant deadline date.
7. Picking your group
If you find yourself in a situation where you can pick your own group, you think ‘great! I can be with all my friends and it will be great’. Whilst it’s nice to be in a group full of friends, it may not be right for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be organised and your friend is a last minute type of person, being in a group together may not work for you. Try to be in a group with people who work like you and you may just find that you enjoy the process!
8. Recognise why group work is used
Group work may feel like a pointless task at times, but there are many benefits to it. You can improve communication skills that you already have and work with a variety of different people. In first year, group work is a great tool for getting to know other people in your cohort. Group work can help with team building and collaboration skills which we will all need when we start our NQN jobs. Other skills you can develop are problem solving, time management, delegation and confidence in your own knowledge.