A Guide to Surviving Group Projects

This semester, I’ve had endless group projects. Im fact, I am currently in the midst of completing four of them after finishing, submitting and presenting one this past week.

Thankfully, I have not had to deal with any terrible groups at all this semester. However, I have in the past, and it has not been fun. You know the type…groups that are uncommunicative, don’t do what they say they will, and for a lack of a better word, just kind of…suck. Yeah, I think we’ve all been there.

The thing about group projects is that you can’t control other people, but your grade depends on these projects, so it really puts you in a pickle when your group is not doing what they should. I’ve never understood how anyone could simply not care about a project by not showing up to meetings, not doing their work, and being blatantly unprepared for a presentation.

However, there are steps you can take to survive the group project process, whether you’re in a good or bad group! Here they are:

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  1. Don’t procrastinate – procrastination is pretty much the arch nemesis of many college students. It is much different waiting until the last second with group projects, though, than it is on a paper. Group projects typically require more work and you have to remember you are relying on others who may not work well under pressure. Waiting until the very last night to do a group project does nothing but catalyze fights, anger, and  a lot of stress.
  2. Be confrontational but not mean – it is always hard and kind of awkward to approach situations in group projects that you are unhappy about. Whether you don’t like the quality of work someone in the group has put forth or you are aggravated with their lackluster performance, it is always important to remember not to be mean. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be quiet about it! There is a way to go about addressing these issues. First, do it privately so it’s not like you’re embarrassing a group member or ganging up on him/her. Second, start on a positive – say something like, “I love the way you always submit things on time, but next time could you remember to proof read your work?” Doing this will eliminate awkwardness and animosity while still clearing up the issue
  3. Don’t be afraid to take control – sometimes in group projects no one is willing to take the lead and it seems like nothing ever gets done. Don’t be afraid to be that person who stands up and delegates tasks! This doesn’t mean to be overly bossy, but take the initiative to make sure everything gets done.
  4. Make a plan – making a plan of action for the project from the start can eliminate confusion and angst in the working period. Even if you don’t follow it completely, at least have a rough idea of what needs to get done, when it needs to be done by (set periodic deadlines!), and who needs to do it. This increases accountability and productivity within the group. Even post it somewhere like in a Facebook message/page made for your group or a GoogleDoc so you know everyone is aware of it.
  5. Never volunteer for everything – this is something I’m so guilty of. However, it is important that each member of the group has important roles, not just one person doing all the work. Always ensure that tasks are delegated fairly so that no one feels like they are doing the brunt of the work.

Good luck with all the group projects you have to complete by the end of the semester! Above all, always remember to be nice! You never know what your group members are going through, and you might even make some friends through the ordeal!

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