During your time as a student you will be involved in many group activities – from working informally with a friend or study partner – to being set a group project that will attract a group mark. This can be really challenging, especially if you do not feel assertive enough to be heard in a group; or you do not want to share your ideas with other people; or you do not want to carry passengers… Whether the thought of group work fills you with joy or dread, you will have to do it.
The trick will be:
- To investigate the task itself - what are you making, doing or writing?
- To understand the task - what learning outcomes does it relate to?
- To allocate jobs – each member of the group needs to know what they are doing and why and by when
- To communicate – share emails and phone numbers – stay in contact with each other
- To ‘feel’ like a group – commit to each other and the task – be determined to get the job done – and give it a 100%
- To fake it to make it – if all else fails, ‘act like’ a good group member and a real team player.
Listen to these students talking about group work...
Making groups work
As a student you will often be asked to produce an assignment or prepare a presentation as part of a group. Since groups are usually made up of any students in your module, you may be worried about potential problems of working together. Working in a group can feel very unfamiliar and is a particular worry to students who have never worked in a group before or have fears about conflict within a group and how to handle it.
Here are some guidelines to help you ensure you get the best out of your group experience and it provides you with some useful tips on how to prevent problems or conflict or to deal with any that may arise in a group situation.
GUIDELINES FOR GROUP WORKING
At the first meeting
- Exchange contact information - email addresses and mobile phone numbers
- Decide on ground rules for behaviour – such as turning up to meetings on time and completing tasks on time. Then,
- Discuss the assignment and what it involves
- Decide what has to be done – and who will do it
- Write it down! You should appoint a scribe who will write down decisions made by the group and who will be doing which tasks. This should also include deadlines and the date and time of future meetings
- Make sure everyone understands their role and what they have to do.
WHEN YOU SET DEADLINES – KEEP TO THEM!
You should expect some disagreements and even conflict at the start. The best way to deal with this is to be prepared for this possibility and follow the tips below to help avoid problems arising in the first place - or to resolve them if they do.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING CONFLICT IN A GROUP
- Follow the ground rules you agreed to as a group at the start.
- Contribute to the discussion and decisions and encourage other group members to do the same.
- Listen to and respect the values and opinions of others.
- Do not criticise or interrupt other group members or dominate the discussion.
- Be realistic about your task and don’t try and do too much in the time available.
REMEMBER: CONTRIBUTE, CO-OPERATE AND COMPROMISE
And Finally - Be Positive!
Information, further research and reflection
The LearnHigher website has an excellent set of resources to help you develop your ability to work successfully in a group – including the award winning mini ‘soap’ ‘Making Group Work Work’
Click on the image on the right
If you like reading your information – try this booklet:
If you don’t even know where to start, you might want to do a self-audit: