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How to tackle group assignments

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Group assignments are an unavoidable fact of university life. While you may have heard some horror stories from friends, group assignments are in fact your first taster of what a workplace environment is like. You’ll get the opportunity to improve your communication and problem-solving skills and work with people from a variety of backgrounds.

A group of students sitting in a light green booth doing a group assignment

Here are a few tips on how to work productively in your next group assignment:

  1. Get to know each other. Spend some time at the start of your assignment getting to know your team members. Find out how they like to work, where they are based and what their expectations are for the assignment in terms of workload and results.
  2. Discuss the task. Ensure that every team member has the same understanding of the task at hand, that way no one gets left behind when the assignment gets underway.
  3. Plan and work together. The core function of your group is to work together to achieve the goal of handing in a great assignment. So set aside any ego and work together to plan and execute the project, respect and encourage your other team members and always keep the team goal in mind.
  4. Elect a leader. It is useful to elect a leader for your team, not to be someone who controls the project but to keep it moving forward and on track. You may also find that different team members will become responsible for different tasks depending on their skill set.
  5. Draw up a timeline. Establishing a timeline for your project with agreed-upon deadlines and delegated tasks will help keep your team on track, gauge if you are falling behind, have team members accountable for their tasks, and ensure that the workload is evenly spread amongst the team.
  6. Stay in touch. Choose a way of communicating and stick to it. Whether that’s through the Blackboard discussion board, email, WhatsApp or a Facebook group, find a way of keeping in touch that everyone agrees upon.
  7. Stick together. If you encounter a problem, it is best to try and tackle it first within your group using negotiation, compromise and a cool head. If you’re still struggling to resolve the issue, speak with your tutor.