I really, really hate group projects. And based on the groans I hear in my classes when they are announced, a lot of other people don’t like them either. They always seem to go the same way. Either I do all the work, or I am pushed out of the group and don’t contribute at all. Regardless, I always find myself thinking that it would have been much easier to just have done the project on my own. Unfortunately, no matter how we may feel about group projects, chances are we’ll still have to do them, so here are some ways to get through group projects.
1. Make sure everyone knows their job
It is so important that everyone knows what they have to do, so that all of the work gets done, especially work that builds off of work other group members are responsible for.
2. If there is a presentation, rehearse it beforehand
I know everyone is super busy, and you might not think that rehearsing a presentation together is a big deal, especially if all the work is technically done, but so many teachers will time presentations and diverging from the time limit can hurt your grade. Meet a half hour before class to run it through and tie up any loose ends.
3. Do not go in ready to fail
Try to be optimistic. The project is not going to go away no matter how much you complain or ignore it; this will only annoy everyone. Make the best of the situation and you may be pleasantly surprised.
4. Set mini deadlines
Set small deadlines to check in and get chunks of the project done. This will allow you to see any problems ahead of time, make sure that everyone is doing their part and everything is working smoothly. If there is work that depends on other group members, this will also ensure that there is time for those other people to do their jobs.
5. Hold people accountable
This is college, not elementary school, so there is some level of expectation that the work will be done. Hold yourself accountable, as well as others.
6. If something feels wrong, talk about it
There have been so many group projects where the big issues started off small and I just ignored them. Do not make this mistake. If someone is ignoring their work or not doing their work correctly, talk about it before it is too late or it gets even bigger.
7. If there is a serious problem, get help
I know that we are taught to always resolve things on our own, but if there is a serious issue with a group project that cannot be solved within the group, talk to the professor. They may be able to help or at least offer some tips and guidance.
8. Make Google Docs or use Google Slides
The great thing about Google Docs and Google Slides is that everyone can edit the project, as well as see what others have done. This will keep all of the information together, as well as allow you to make sure that your project blends together well and is one coherent piece.
9. Know what is expected of you
Read the assignment with your group! There have been so many times where I think everything has been handled, but one group member did not understand that they were supposed to hand something in and the whole group suffers. Make sure everyone is on the same page with the professor’s expectations, as well as the rubric if that is available.
Above all, communicate! Do not disappear from the group chat or be passive aggressive. This won’t help anyone. Say what you need to say and actually work with your group members. This will include everyone and make the project the best experience possible for all members.
I wish you all the best of luck with any group projects going forward! They do not have to feel like the apocalypse, even though I still feel like it when a professor announces the next group project. May you all have the strength to get through it!