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The Group Work Survival Guide

Wed, 05/24/2017 Fiona Liaw
The Group Work Survival Guide

If you thought you bid farewell to your last group project when you left junior college or polytechnic, think again! University is full of modules that have some component of group work, and no doubt, this can be the bane of your university life. One bad group project can mean sleepless nights, endless frustration, and worse – your GPA coming plunging down at the end of the semester.

There is always the hope that as we get older and wiser, we also become better equipped to deal with working in teams. However, if you foresee a tough group project headed your way, here are some tips to survive and hopefully ease the pains of working as a team.


Pick Modules Where Weightage on Group Project is Low

This especially the case if you absolutely loathe working with people you hardly know. While learning to work in teams is a necessary part of life, if this is something you do not feel confident about doing, then start slow.

Make the effort to read up on your course requirements and assess the difficulty of the group project and the percentage of your final grade that it will make up. With this in mind, pick classes where group work is kept to a minimum or manageable level.


Select Your Group Mates Wisely

This assumes that you are not a freeloader happy to let your group mates do all the work, and that your professor is giving you a choice on who to work with. In which case, choose wisely! For example, however much you might feel a person is your good friend, if he or she has four CCAs and a penchant for late-night partying, you may want to rethink the decision to buddy up for a huge project.

You might want to a do a little social media research on the people in your tutorial group to find out more about them, or simply ensure you and your good, trustworthy friends can make it for the same tutorial timing and work together.


Get Organised

Make sure you get everyone’s contact numbers and email addresses, and maybe start a WhatsApp or Telegram chat to keep everyone in the loop.

Do remember that files sent over group chats like Telegram are going to be much harder to keep track of and likely to be lost in spam. So consider using file sharing applications like Google Drive or Dropbox to store the necessary documents. It may also help to set up a consistent file labelling system for everyone to follow, so you do not end up trying to decipher the difference between documents called “XXX_FINALV2 and “XXX_FINAL FINAL”.


Respect Your Group Mates

The first way to do this is simply to listen and pay attention to their concerns. These concerns – whether it is a mid-semester examination or another group project – are going to be what prevent them from performing and make them uncontactable.

Also try to respect their time. Try not to come late for group meetings, and definitely try very hard to meet the deadlines that have been set. Be cooperative and you will reap cooperation.


Finally, Time-Management is Key

The worst part about group projects is probably the endless meetings that last for hours each time – and sometimes achieve nothing at the end of them. To avoid wearing out each other’s patience, try to have meetings only when you absolutely need them, either to discuss the scope of work, or to collectively make changes to the work done.


Remember, your own work for the group project can and should be done in your own time. So meet to divide the work and delegate, and then have the discipline to do it at home. Only come back to meet again when it is all done and there is something that needs to be discussed!

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