July 23, 2019

Students Guide to Group Work

People lined up

When working in a group you have to take into account many things that you may not have considered when working alone. We are all different, and many of us have different learning styles so it is important to assess the strengths and weaknesses of others and plan appropriately. Find out what motivates them and what factors contribute to their lack of ability to focus and complete tasks. Once a clear rhythm and pattern has been established the results of working as a cohesive team can be very rewarding. GSM London look at the pitfalls of group work and how a student can overcome them to achieve the grades they want.

Getting started | group work

When you come together for the first time it can be difficult to achieve the right synergy among the team. Each group member should introduce themselves and a collective discussion of ideas needs to take place to set the agenda. An effective way to get started is to brainstorm, each group member needs to contribute ideas, this allows a strategy to be put in place where each individual is assigned tasks going forward. Communication is paramount in these settings, therefore all contact details need to be shared. In many instances, it is also good practice to appoint a team leader to ensure greater productivity.

Meeting The Deadline

When working as a team it can sometimes take awhile to get a work pattern established, but we all know time is precious. Make sure you discuss and accurately establish timelines and have regular progress reports as part of your group commitment. This is an effective way to identify if anyone needs any assistance in completing tasks.

Problems with communication

A common problem within group work is ineffective communication, clear channels need to be set up. If issues surrounding communication do arise they need to be identified promptly, consider how to address these issues, i.e. if they don’t answer phone calls suggest emails or text or if it is a matter of misunderstanding, re-explain with more detail.

Dealing with conflict within the team

It is important to respect the views of others and to show that you have taken the time to listen to them. In some instances, you may disagree with each other, but this needs to handled in and calm and effective way, a big part of group work is compromise and negotiation. If the group tensions escalate, take a break to diffuse the situation and reschedule for another time.

Having your say

We all have character differences and those with domineering personalities may over-shadow the quieter groups members. There are few methods that can be used to ensure everyone has their say, for example use can create talking limitation by having a ‘timing stick’, ensure that everyone has a chance to speak without interruption. In addition, it must be made clear that all opinions relevant to the topic are valued

Lack of contribution and the inability to focus

Setting the objective and methods is essential to ensuring the task is completed well and on time. If it is noted that a group member is not contributing enough it is important to find out the reasoning behind it. Ensure that an environment is set up that encourages a free flow of conversation where each group member understands their value. To maintain focus on the project, set out tasks to be completed before each meeting at which point, they can be presented for discussion. To celebrate team progress, a collective lunch or rewarding treat can reinforce team spirit and in turn inspire greater productivity

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is sucess two students working together”- Henry Ford


For further insight into how groupwork can contribute to your success follow the link and find out more from GSM Subject hero ‘Jerica’ as she gives you her views on working as a team during your studies.

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