Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Group Work: Surviving and Thriving

"Plays well with other children.”

Did that show up on your first grade report card? If not, would it show up now? The ability to work well with peers isn’t just a crucial skill in elementary school, or even in college. Almost every profession requires that one have the ability to work successfully with a team. One way that college professors try to prepare students for the world of work is by assigning group projects. I am currently in the process of working on two group projects at once. Because I have little experience in this department, I decided to ask my learned friend, roommate, and classmate (oddly enough, we’re in a group together, too) for advice on how to successfully navigate The Group Project. Here are her tips, together with a few of mine.

• Understand the purpose of group work - learning to work with others.
• Meet early with the group to discuss expectations.
• Exchange contact information with all group members.
• Clearly and evenly divide the workload according to each person’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
• Know that it is difficult to perfectly divide group project responsibilities and that someone will most likely end up doing a little more work than the others. Do not, however, use this as justification for not fairly sharing the workload.
• Be prepared to calmly resolve conflicts within the group if necessary.
• Consider organizing information electronically so that each member has access to project data at all times.
• Make sure that someone is responsible for taking attendance at all group meetings.
• Establish group progress dates.
• Be prepared to compromise.
• Set a group goal for what grade you want to get.
• Find out if you will be receiving an individual grade along with a group grade.
• Consider writing a group contract.

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