Participating in a group assignment promises to benefit you a great deal. It could help you to develop your leadership skill, teamwork skill and many valuable skills that many employers will look for in your resume. However, having a group assignment is also a very tough challenge. There are many potential problems such as tasks divided unfairly and group members not contributing.
In case you have quite a few group assignments this semester, it is time you look for some ways to cope with potential issues that might come for better preparation. This article aims to help you with such problems. Scroll down to read more on how to prepare effectively for your group assignments.
Understanding About Group Assignments
The first thing you need to know before you start working on a group assignment is to understand which type of group assignment you are assigned. It could be a research for a paper or a presentation.
In addition, you should know about the size of your group- how many people will take part in the group and who they are. The group could consist of 2 to 3 people or more, depending on the scale of the project. In case you are allowed to choose who you work with in the group assignment, make sure there are no more or no fewer numbers of students than required.
The people who work with you could be randomly chosen by your professor or tutor or the group of your best friends in class. If you are allowed to form your own group, don’t just choose the ones you get along with the most. Try your best to form a group with the members you know that they can fully concentrate on the task and will not get too busy with their personal life.
Here are some most effective tips you should know in order to do well in group assignments.
1. Exchange Contact Information
Right away when you know about the group assignment and the people who you will work with, you need to meet them and exchange your contact information with other members.
- You can create a list of every member’s mobile number.
- Collect their email addresses as well.
- You can also exchange your FaceBook account if you think it is not too personal.
- One of my favourite means of communication is Gmail. You can create a Gmail account and make use of Google Docs. With this tool, you can post a document online and share with other people who can view as well as editing it. It is also a great place where you can upload any documents that you want to share in the group.
Nowadays, it is very easy and convenient to create a FaceBook group and add your group members into the group. Contacting through FaceBook is quite easy as people tend to get online frequently. You and other members will be notified immediately when someone posts something new on that FaceBook page you created.
2. Set Up Meeting Schedule In Advance
The first group meeting should be set up as soon as possible, preferably when your group is assigned with the group assignment. During the first meeting, future meetings should be planned as well. You and other members of your group take part in different activities at the University and by setting up meeting schedule; your group’s members will manage their time better. We recommend using Google Calendar to send meeting invites to all team members.
Setting up a meeting schedule in advance also increases your chance of securing a group study room in your library. You might find it hard to book a room in the last minute. Keep in mind that there are other groups and they also need to book a room to discuss their projects as well. So always remember to book a room well in advance to prevent unwanted time loss to search for a place to discuss your assignment.
3. Appoint A Group Leader
In most cases, a leader should be appointed or self-nominated right away. A leader’s responsibility is very important ant crucial to the success of your group assignment.
He or she would be the one to connect and contact other members in the group. He/she should also be the one who is capable of setting a clear goal for the group and delegate tasks effectively among all members of the group.
A leader of the group doesn’t necessarily need to be the one with experience in leading before. As long as that person is passionate and dedicated to the common goal of the group, he/she will be able to lead the group well.
If you have never been a group leader before, you can volunteer for once. Being a team leader will help you gain many valuable skills including negotiating skills, communication skills and leadership skills- which are highly appreciated by your future employers.
4. Delegate Tasks Clearly And Equally Among Group Members
During the first meeting, you and your group members should outline the tasks clearly. With a big assignment, it is better that you and your group can divide it into smaller parts. They would then be easier to manage and delegate these parts to each individual.
- In case the assignment consists of various questions, each task would be finding the answer to the sub- questions.
- In case you have to do a group presentation, make sure you divide the tasks of seeking information for the slides as well as creating slides and other effects for your group’s presentation.
After the most significant tasks are outlined, you should proceed to assign these roles to each member in your group. Everyone in the group has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you work with your members before, it is much easier to delegate tasks.
Otherwise, you should spend time talking to others and ask them what they are good at and what they can do to contribute to the assignment. You and other members in your group can volunteer to take part in the task that you feel confident in and you can fulfil with maximum results.
In addition to delegating tasks for the assignment, you should delegate roles among members of the group as well. Some roles that all groups should have are:
- Leadership role (which you need to choose right away)
- Record keeper role (who takes note of the meetings)
- Timekeeper role (who is responsible for scheduling and booking for other future meetings)
- Deadline checker role (who reminds everybody about their deadlines after each meeting and check them at the beginning of the next meeting).
5. Set Up A Timeline And Expectations Of Outcomes
In your group, a timeline should be drawn. It includes the meeting schedule which was mentioned in tip Number 2. It also includes the specific dates and deadlines where some tasks should be done. For example, if your group assignment is to analyse a market’s trend, the information about such trend should be collected first before your group can have a look at the dates.
In addition, the objectives towards the group assignment need to be understood among all members of the group. It is understandable that different students aim for different achievements. Some people only need a grade to pass while some other people just don’t accept anything but a grade of more than 70 %.
That is the reason why the objectives and expectations of outcomes need to be outlined at the first meeting. Outline and brainstorm what everyone is aiming in order to come up with a shared objective.
6. Listen Actively to other group members
During various meetings of your group, it is very important that you keep listening to what other students might say. And I say “listen”, not “hear”.
In order to truly have a good listening skill, you need to be able to pay a very close attention to what other members say and try your best not to interrupt while one is speaking.
If you want to say or comment anything and you are afraid that you might forget later, note that down and have your say when it’s your turn. Also, learn to summarise what other people say.
Besides listening actively, you should believe that other people are also willing to listen to you. So don’t hesitate to express yourself and voice your own ideas. In case other members in your group are quiet, taking the lead by speaking first will encourage a positive group dynamic and enhance the participation level of other people.
7. Avoid Groupthink And Solve Conflicts Wisely
Groupthink happens when you or other students in your groups try to alter your own opinions and views in order for them to be the same as the ideas of most of the people. Then the group ends up making decisions based on ideas that you are not happy with. In some cases, the majority is true but in some case, the minor’s idea is much better.
So even though you know you have different ideas than the ideas you think other members in your group might have, you should speak your own opinion- for the sake of your group as well as yours.
The very opposite problem is the rise of conflicts. Many groups try to avoid conflicts completely. However, conflicts of opinions are really good signs and you should embrace them when they come. They are part of rational and effective group discussions.
- There might not be wrong and right opinions. So don’t think that your opinions are right and get rid of other possibilities immediately. They should be evaluated among group members carefully to come up with the best decision.
- However, personal conflict should be avoided as much as possible. This is when the spirit of a group is much more important than the sake of an individual.
If you cannot resolve the conflict which is raised within your group, you should seek help from your professor or tutor as he/she will help discuss the possible ideas. In the case of personal conflict, the easiest solution is to set up meetings outside the University campus where your group members can hang out and get social and closer together.
8. Leave Enough Time Before the Deadline
It is not wise at all to just finish your group assignment 30 minutes before the deadline. You should leave enough time to deal with any issue- such as the over-limit word count, wrong fonts and sizes and even worse- when you realise no one writes the conclusion.
So finish your group assignment at least 1 day in advance so that you can proofread and add any finishing touches. Make sure all parts written by different members can be pieced together so that this one grand piece can be read smoothly.
Ensure that all of your members have time to read the final work and voice their opinions before you submit it.
I hope with all of the tips above, you will be able to find fun while participating in a group assignment and receive the best result from it. I am sure that the fun, enjoyment and essential skills that you gain from such time will follow you for the rest of your student’s life and so much more.