How do you tackle a group assignment at uni? Joy explains

12 Jun 2019,
By Joy K., Student at Robert Gordon University

When my lecturer utters those dreaded words ‘group work’, I instantly begin to panic. Who will I be working with? What will they be like? Will the group work well together?

University assignments can be stressful anyway without the added pressure of having to do group work, sometimes with people I don’t even know.

Are you nervous about group assignments at uni? Don’t be. I’ve figured out a simple, three-step method for surviving (and even enjoying) group work.

It is essential to talk to the members of your group right from the start.

Here it is.

Step 1: Communicate and involve everybody

It is essential to talk to the members of your group right from the start. Meetings are good, and they can be as formal or informal as you like. A coffee shop is a good place to meet as it is more casual and people feel more relaxed.

Take turns talking and try to encourage everybody to have their say. If you disagree with them, let them make their point and then respectfully give your opinion. Don’t ever be aggressive or talk over anybody else. Try to keep everybody focused on the task in hand.

Message groups are another good way to communicate easily and often they are much quicker than emails. But be careful, texts can easily be misinterpreted and the key to an effective working group is happiness.

Step 2: Delegate and play to your strengths

Involve all members of the group and ensure everyone gets the chance to contribute. It is not fair to expect one person to do all the work so divide up the different elements of the project. Ask people what they feel their strengths are, and assign roles based on these skills and preferences where possible.

If someone is very creative, perhaps they should be in charge of designing the final presentation. On the other hand, if someone is very good with figures, maybe they should take charge of the calculations. Got someone in your group who’s really confident? See if they’d like to lead the presentation.

Step 3: Set targets that work for everybody

Everyone works at different speeds within a group, so make sure your goals and targets are realistic and achievable for everyone. Be considerate of other people’s commitments, such as part-time jobs. But if you think someone is slacking or struggling, talk to them about it in a respectful way. Always allow more time than you think. Complete work with ample time before the deadline to allow you to bring everyone’s work together into something you’re all happy with.

I study journalism and one of my recent assignments involved working with media students. When I saw the team list I was worried, I did not know these media students or what they were like. But, by following these simple steps, we became comfortable as a group, communicated well, and pulled off a really strong project together.

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By Joy K.
Student at Robert Gordon University