Some people love group work, while others dread it. But the reality is you can’t avoid it in college or the workplace. Here are some quick tips from Georgian’s student advisors on how to make the most of the experience:
1. If you can pick your own group members, choose wisely. If you can’t, see this as an opportunity to work with people who have different learning styles and strengths.
2. Get to know each other first. Share a little bit about who you are and why you’re here.
3. Make sure everyone is clear on what’s expected. Go over the assignment. Does everyone know what the group needs to do?
4. Establish roles and responsibilities. Who is doing what?
5. Decide how you’ll communicate. Will you meet in person or use Skype? How often should you check in or provide an update? Are there online tools you can use to help, e.g. Google docs? Did you know you can book a study room at the Barrie and Orillia campuses online?
6. Set clear deadlines at the beginning. Make sure everyone knows what’s due when and you leave a little buffer room.
7. Determine what success looks like. Do you all want an A? Are you comfortable with a C?
8. Don’t try to take control. This might be a challenge if you’re used to leading or love working independently.
9. Practise empathy and active listening. Ask clarifying questions, create a safe space to share ideas, and recognize that everyone brings diverse viewpoints and experiences.
10. Be supportive. Cheer your groupmates on and help those experiencing difficulty.
11. Deal with conflict right away. Don’t let things fester. Voice concerns and questions as they come up.
12. Pack your patience. Sometimes, life happens. Kids might be sick. Someone might get a nasty cold. Be ready to be flexible.
13. Provide constructive feedback. Rather than criticizing or placing blame if something goes wrong, focus on what the team can learn together.
14. When in doubt, ask your prof for advice. Someone not pulling their weight? Not sure how to tackle an aspect of the project? Get some help, and early on.
Georgian’s student advisors offer lots of tips and tricks to help students build both academic and personal resilience. Log in to the Student Portal to book an appointment with your advisor.
This article was originally published in October 2018. It was updated and re-shared in October 2019.