4 tips to survive group assignments


Image of students sitting in a group

Working in a group is a large part of your academic ‘career’. The good news is these sometimes frustrating team situations assist in learning negotiation and communication skills, which all employers are super keen on.

But just because something is good for us doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, or that we will automatically enjoy doing it.

Lucky for you, we have a few tips and tricks to make your group work as drama free as having a sea-monkey as a pet.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Use technology to collaborate

Get to know your technology. There are so many technologies available to help you collaborate online with your teammates.

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.

4. 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.