Survive a group project by sticking to these ground rules

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At some point during your college career, you’re going to be faced with group assignments. As an undergraduate, I would dread these assignments! The idea of relying on others when it came to my grades gave me anxiety.

If working in a group also makes you feel a little sick to your stomach, don’t worry! With the right plan in place, I found that group assignments don’t always have to be a nerve-wracking experience, but can actually be successful and even a little fun.

Get to know your classmates

Since you never know if a professor is going to assign group work, it pays to be social and get to know your classmates. When it comes time to break off into groups, you’ll already have a few people in mind. 

This will help make the introductions a little less awkward, and working together, a little easier. Plus, if you already know them, you’ll be more comfortable working with them. 

Choose your group carefully

If you have the chance to pick your team, try to pick people who contribute to class discussions. Typically, students who speak up are more engaged and willing to invest in their education. For obvious reasons, those are the people you want on your team. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean the silent types don’t work hard. But it’s a good place to start if you don’t know anyone. 

Plus, if you’re working on a project where you have to present, you know they don’t have a problem speaking up. 

Take the time to brainstorm

Brainstorming is a fundamental process in the beginning stages of group work. It allows for creative thinking and opens you up to ideas you may not have thought of yourself. 

Encourage everyone to participate in brainstorming. Even ideas that seem  “way outside of the box” can lead you in the right direction.

It also allows everyone to voice their opinion on the project.

Assign each person a task

After you complete your brainstorming session and have selected your project idea, everyone should be assigned a task. When everyone knows what their responsibilities are upfront, it’s harder for them to feign confusion later. Plus, it allows you to move forward with a clear understanding of what you’re working on as a whole. 

Once everyone knows what their tasks are, they can get started on the work. 

Timing is everything

It’s highly likely you all have different schedules and commitments outside of class and may have limited opportunities to check in with each other. Depending on the timing of the project, it’s beneficial for everyone to agree on a check-in schedule at least once a week to go over things.

A schedule helps make sure the project is on track, and all of the tasks are being completed. It also allows you to do peer reviewing and offer feedback on parts you can make better.

Create Project Milestones

To ensure you keep everyone on track, and before you submit a final presentation, it’s always good to set project milestones. Milestones give the team an expectation on when to have key pieces of the project completed. 

Meeting to review these milestones is also important. Everyone should peer review each other’s work for grammar, punctuation, relevant material, and so on. Having a second set of eyes helps catch mistakes you might not see yourself. 

Offer to help your teammates

Life happens — there’s always the chance that your group members will fall behind. If that happens, try to get some other teammates to pitch in and help out until they get caught up. 

Different pieces of assignments can become much bigger than originally thought and easily feel overwhelming. Having some help to lighten the load and refine what material to use for a specific portion of the assignment can help someone get back on track.

Get more inspiration 

A change of scenery can spark new creativity because it gets the team in a new environment. I noticed when my teams kept meeting in the same locations, it started to get boring after a while. 

 I proposed going to a coffee shop or restaurant a few times. Which helped us get more creative and think of different ways to polish up our presentations or papers.

I think it helped us to get out of our comfort zone and put ourselves in a new environment that made us think more creatively.

Practice – Practice – Practice

Take turns practicing presenting your material. You never know who might have that perfect radio voice or that charisma that really makes your work stand out from the others.

Practicing the presentation in front of one another can help you define areas that need improvement. After you’ve run through it a few times and everyone is happy with it, you know you’re ready to go.

All that hard work and effort have paid off. Now take it to class and show them how well you worked together.