One of the things I’ve learned about college is that there’s always going to be a group project. I don’t know why, but professors seem to be fond of the concept. But if there’s one thing you need to know about me is that I hate group projects. I’ve had really bad experiences in the past, where I ended up doing most of the work alone. I have also been on a team where someone literally plagiarized their share and one where one of my teammates bullied another one! (both experiences were during the same project…) Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of group projects. However, I have discovered a few tips over the years to make group projects in college more bearable.
Use Google Drive
If there’s one tool you need to make your group project a success, it’s Google Drive. Why? Because Google Drive gives access to the document to everyone. Like this, everyone can edit it, see other people’s comments, and work directly in the final document. You won’t have to send the document back and forth between the members of the team. It’s also a great way to see who’s working and who’s not. Google Drive is so easy to use! All you need is a valid email address (and it doesn’t even have to be a Gmail one!). It’s going to save you time and make everyone’s life a lot easier.
Create a schedule
Right when you create your team, decide on a schedule. Are you going to be meeting a lot? Define when and where your team and yourself are going to be meeting. Make it clear to everyone and share it with them on Facebook Messenger (or whatever communication tool you are using). You also want to set a deadline before the project is due so you can edit it before you hand it in. There’s nothing worst than staying up all night finishing a project before the deadline because not everyone has finished their part. #beentheredonethat Make it stress-free for everyone by setting a deadline a couple of days before the due date.
Make sure everyone has the same workload
If there’s something I hate about group projects, it’s that there’s always that one person who seemed to be doing everything (this person often happens to be me… AH-HEM). I’ve been on both sides. It’s either I do it all or someone does everything and doesn’t let me do anything (which makes me feel terrible because I know what it’s like to be the one to do everything). Neither situations are ideal. To make it fair to everyone, try to divide up the work so everyone has the same workload from the get-go. It’s not always possible, but at least try to make it fair.
Work from people’s strengths
Talking about diving the workload, you should always work from people’s strengths. If you have someone who loves doing research, for example, leave them with that part. If you have someone who is a great writer or a great editor, leave them with the writing part. You get the idea. Working with people’s strengths will not only leave everyone happy because you will all be doing things you are good at, but it will also make your project better, promising a better result.
Don’t be afraid to help out
If you see someone in your team is struggling with their tasks, don’t leave them to figure it out on their own. Help out! Part of doing a group project’s essence is to develop team spirit. If roles were reversed, you’d love the extra hand, wouldn’t you? So reciprocate the gesture. Who knows, it might come back to you someday! And don’t forget that if the work doesn’t get done, you’ll suffer from it too!
If something is not working, let the other people in your team know. If you’re not satisfied with the work that has been done so far by your colleagues, let them know too. Don’t hold it all up inside. Let the other people in your team how you’re feeling. Trust me, it’s better to let them know you’re upset know than to explode once you just can’t take it anymore. It’s a lot more healthy, and maybe you’ll be able to fix the problem or find a solution easier!
Don’t be afraid to take the lead
Most of the time, your group will naturally find its leader. You won’t even have to think about it, but someone will play a leading role. They’ll make sure everything is done on time and will overview everyone’s work. It’s good to have someone at the head of the group. It keeps everyone in line and on the same page. The leader needs to be understanding, but work-driven. You don’t want to be a bully and tell everyone what to do, but you don’t want your team not to get anything done. Not every project you’ll do will have a leader, but, normally, the more people there are in a team, the more important it is to have a leader.
Sometimes, you’ll need a leader, but no one is willing to take that position. That’s when you need to step in. Trust me, I hate being the leader in a group. I feel like I’m telling everyone what to do and there are way too many responsibilities on my shoulder. However, sometimes you need to step in, otherwise, your team is just not going anywhere. Trust me, I’ve been there. You’ll find that some people need to have someone to tell them what to do. Be the type of leader you admire. Don’t put too much pressure on your colleagues, but remind them often of deadlines and how important they are. Just don’t be a dictator.
Exchange info ASAP
One of the first thing you should do once your team is created is to exchange info as soon as possible. Determine a communication method that works for everyone. Usually, I work with Facebook Messenger, but there are other tools that you can use. Make sure you also have everyone’s email address and/or cell phone number so you can contact them if the group method fails (or if that person never seems to check their Facebook account…).
One thing you’ll discover with group project is that everyone sees things differently. Not everyone works the same way, and not everyone likes to do the same things. You’ll be confronted with ideas that you might not always agree to. Just remember that there is more than one way to arrive at the required result. Be polite and open to new ideas. Embrace the difference!
Go over your work before you hand it in
It’s nice when everyone has finished their part of the work and everything, but your project is not ready yet. Remember that preliminary due date we talked about? It’s exactly for this purpose. Take a few days to reread the paper and make corrections if needed. It’s hard to write as a group. Everyone has different writing styles, and that shows in your paper. Instead, ask one person to reread the paper to make sure it’s cohesive. You want the style to flow naturally, just as it would if it had been written by only one person.
Also, check for plagiarism! We all want to think that everyone did their part correctly, but trust me, you’re never too safe. I was in a group once where one of my teammates just copy-pasted her entire part, without quoting! Not only is that disrespectful to the original author of the content, but it’s also putting everyone in your team on the bottom line. You could all suffer from terrible consequences that will follow you your whole life. So don’t plagiarize, people. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
Do you have any tips that help you deal with group projects? Do you prefer working on your own or in groups?