Groupwork is a popular form of university assessment. However, it can be stressful: not everyone works in the same way or at the same pace, and you may need to discuss these issues. This post gives some tips on how you could manage group projects effectively.
Stage One: Familiarisation
- Read through the project instructions together. Make sure everybody understands what the project is, what needs to be done and how it will be assessed. Discuss what is expected of the group, and if there are any disagreements which cannot be resolved, contact your tutor or course organiser.
- Set ground rules. What is expected in terms of attendance and punctuality? What kind of language is appropriate or offensive? And what will the group do if someone free rides or dominates?
- Discuss where and when you will meet. Will it be on-campus in a socially distanced way, or would it be better to e-meet on Collaborate, for example? If you are e-meeting, it might be useful to create a group SharePoint or Google Doc so that you can all access and edit a file remotely at the same time during your meeting. How will you contact each other outside of meetings if you have questions (e.g. social media or e-mail)?
Stage Two: Preparation
- Assign tasks in a fair way amongst group members e.g. a question each, or a couple of you might focus on data analysis and the rest look at researching and writing. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses in relation to course content at this point. Is someone particularly good at working with statistical software, for example? Knowing this will help to divide tasks in a way that will maximise your group mark.
- Make an action plan of what needs to be done by when, working towards the final deadline. Allow time for unexpected challenges.
Stage Three: Implementation
- Prepare agendas for each meeting. This will help you stick to the task during your meetings and maximise productivity.
- Make sure you complete the tasks you have been allocated and be prepared to discuss them at group meetings. Listen to what others have to say about your work and be prepared to change it if necessary.
- Similarly, you should criticise others’ work in a constructive, respectful way. Avoid trying to score points at group meetings; if you do this, some of your more anxious peers may be afraid to raise what could be valuable points about how to improve your group’s work.
- Take notes of what is said so that you can deal with the issues raised appropriately in the future.
- Meet each other to bring the different parts of the project together. Tie up any loose ends, consider the flow of the work, look at whether there is consistency in grammar and referencing style throughout the report, and evaluate what has been written in relation to the assessment criteria. Make sure that everybody is happy with the content before submitting it.
The Study Hub Learning Resources have further resources on Group working.
Cottrell, S. (2019) The Study Skills Handbook: Fifth Edition. London: Red Globe Press. ISBN: 9781137610898 (e-book).
University of Leicester (n.d.) ‘Successful group projects.’ Available at: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/all-resources/study/group-projects [Accessed on 22nd June, 2020]