If reading that title made your stomach drop, you aren’t alone. The majority of high school and college students alike hate group projects. Especially the ones where every student on your team receives the same grade despite their participation in the group effort.
This easily results in one, or more, people on the team just not taking the project seriously and putting all of the work upon one or two other members in the team. That sucks.
Luckily, if you follow these tips your group project experience can be virtually painless.
Craft the Dream Team
Sometimes your professor will randomly (or not so randomly) divide the class into groups. Then, you have no choice but to deal with it. However, if your professor allows you to create your own group, take advantage of it! While it is crazy tempting you choose your best friends, sometimes working with friends is more trouble than it’s worth.
Weigh the pro’s and con’s. You know your friends. Will they take the project as seriously as you will, or will they slack off? Are they crazy busy, or will they be a breeze to find times to meet? Are they reliable when you need them to help with something, or could they not care less when they let you down?
You love your friends. But there’s a chance they might not be the right choice here.
If you know that working with your friends for this particular project is the wrong move, take a deep breath and stand up for yourself. Go pick a group of people who you know will get the work done. Who will be reliable, make the time, focused, have great ideas, and overall make your time with this group project less stressful.
Find a Meeting Time
Not all group projects require that you meet with your group outside of class time, but most do. The bigger the group, the more difficult it is to find a common time that everybody can meet.
Struggling to find a meeting time? Try using a website such as Doodle to help! With this you can put it in time options and each person marks the times that they can or cannot make it. This is great for scheduling any groups, or even events.
Pick a Leader
Every group needs a leader. Without someone to hold the group accountable for the project requirements the project will never get anywhere. If nobody steps up to take this position there may not be any progress, and your grade will definitely suffer.
If nobody else is willing to step up and take charge, you may need to take one for the team and handle it. Delegating tasks, getting contact info, figuring out the meeting time, and overall ensuring that the quality of the project is up to your standard.
This may seem silly. There doesn’t have to be any “alright who’s gonna be the leader?” talk, but you’ll all still know who it is. Who is guiding the discussion? Arranging the project details and meeting times? That is the leader.
Especially for long term group projects, communication is key. Whether you start a group text message, a group Facebook message, a group e-mail, or even a group chat from an outside app like WhatsApp or GroupMe, you need to create some form of digital mass group communication that can be used.
It’s so easy for projects to fail due to lack of communication.
While some project forms don’t allow this to work as successfully as others, most of the time it works well to delegate or split up tasks among group members. Make a game plan.
First, take a look at the project requirements. These might be found in your syllabus or might be found in a separate project rubric given by your professor. Group tasks together which seem similar and write them down on a piece of paper so everybody can see them in one place. Then split them up among the members.
While you will be working together on every aspect, it is still important to have one person “in charge” of a specific section to make sure that it does not get thrown under the rug and forgotten about.
For example: Let’s say we are doing a presentation. I’m in charge of the PowerPoint design, the introduction slide, and the first 2 slides. You are in charge of the next 2 slides, the sources slide, and the closing slide. I get so focused on the rest of the presentation that I completely forget that we need a sources slide, but since you are in charge of it you remember and make sure we don’t turn in the project without it.
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t fall short of the expectations you are setting for everybody else.
I am a firm believer in the saying “treat others the way that you want to be treated” so if you want the rest of your team to follow through on the parts of the project they have been assigned, you need to do the same.
Now you should be set with the ideas to kick start your group project. Remember to take deep breaths, be supportive of your group members, and remember that in the end.. it’s just a grade.
Though, the project itself? Can’t help you there 😉
What’s your least favorite kind of school project?