Not all university assessments are a solitary activity. Sometimes you will be required to work on an assignment, project or class presentation with a group of fellow students.
Group work can enhance your social skills, build self-esteem and confidence, and promote tolerance through the sharing of alternative ideas and points of view.
Working in a group will help prepare you for team environments in the workplace and teach you a range of values and competencies that employers look for in graduates.
Here’s some tips to help you work effectively in a group.
Start with introductions and set some ground rules
It takes time for a group of individuals to become a team. Meet your team members as soon as possible and get to know each other.
Decide how the group will communicate. Are you going have face-to-face meetings or communicate online through email or group discussion forums?
Whether you meet in person or virtually, create a schedule of meetings with agendas. Decide on team roles so that everyone keeps on track.
And remember, play nicely with others. Be inclusive and treat each other with respect and courtesy.
Understand the assignment requirements
Do you understand what the assignment is asking you to do? Take the time to analyse your assignment topic. Identify specific tasks and estimate the time required to complete them.
Once you have done this, you will need to prioritise the tasks, set deadlines, and allocate the tasks to team members.
This will ensure work is divided fairly and effectively. Use your meetings to regularly review progress and revise deadlines.
Use technology to collaborate
Get to know your technology. There are so many technologies available to help you collaborate online with your team mates.
From discussion boards, wikis and instant messaging to email, social media and Google Docs.
Make sure you are an active online participant: read, respond and contribute to the group’s postings.
Use effective strategies to overcome problems
Problems may arise within a group for a variety of reasons. They may result from unequal efforts from team members, disagreements about group objectives, clash of personalities, simple misunderstandings and straight-out differences of opinion.
Any issues need to be dealt with promptly and decisively. Learn to effectively manage conflict so you can facilitate discussion and come to a resolution. Contact the lecturer or tutor if a problem is not able to be resolved.