In college group projects can be a real pain in the tailbone. As a person who has endured plenty of study groups, group work, and group projects I can attest to that personally. I am not saying that these always fail, but it requires a lot of planning and time commitment. You usually have three types of people in a group: the want to do it all (but not necessarily this could be just the leader or the delegator depending on the person you work with), the middle person (the person who does their fair share and gets their task done), the freeloader (the person who just doesn’t have their stuff together) I will talk about the three types and how to deal with them:
The Three Types Of People In Group Projects
In my experience with group projects there are usually three types of people. The Do-It-Aller or Delegator, The Middle Person, and The Freeloader. By finding these people in your group you are better able to actually function with group projects and steer them in the right direction using the tips I give below.
The Do-It-Aller or Delegator
I think that these people are on two sides of the same coin. I say this because it’s basically like flipping a coin when you get a leader because they may want to do all the work or they may want to delegate it out to group members. I know that when I see a group I am in starting to not have balance I like to step in and be a task delegator and liaison for the group. I don’t like to take all the work and make it mine, because I am just too busy for that. I also don’t think it adds to the education of group members. Some leaders though just take it upon themselves to do all the work. If you see this happening in your group, step up to the plate and get a few tasks for yourself. I know it’s easy to just let one person take the reigns but if it’s a group speech or presentation (especially) you can really tell if one or two group members took the reigns and the others just sat and watched.
The Middle Person
This person is pretty straight forward. They don’t push themselves out as being a leader, but when the leader delegates a task to them they get it done and know their parts.
The reason that anything with the word “group” in it assignment wise gets a bad rep. You’re going to have this problem once or twice in your college career. A person who likes to sit back, relax, and piggy back on the rest of your group members. It is your job whether you are a leader or a middle person to get them to do their work. Setting deadlines, working on the project with the person, and even alerting your professor when group members are being unproductive even after being alerted many times are all viable options. You have to give that person incentive to doing their work, by being clear that you will not stand for freeloading.
Tips To Creating More Effective Group Projects
Obviously group projects are going to be a part of your collegiate career (and honestly any career.) Over the years I have found the tips below to be the most effective when dealing with group projects.
Exchange Multiple Forms Of Communication
From Day One keep communication as open as humanly possible. Exchange email addresses, phone numbers, add each other on Facebook/Twitter. Make sure you have at least two ways of contacting everyone in your group (preferably one for fast communication and one for slow communication) nothing is worse than having a good idea, wanting feedback instantly, and having to wait for hours to get information back.
Settle Meeting Dates As Soon As Possible
It’s important for people to know a time commitment for things. Depending on the lengthiness of the project try to meet at least once a week if the project is due in two weeks or more, and at least once a week and discuss in class if you have less than two weeks.
Don’t make it a habit to make impromptu meetings with not a lot of prior thinking. Not everyone will be able to drop their tasks to come to the rescue of the group. Emergency meetings are no good, send an email or text your group members instead.
Make Your Meetings Productive
Don’t just come to a meeting and talk, make it productive. People have things to do other than the group meeting. Come with an action plan of things you want to work on or discuss. When I am on any part of a meeting, I don't like leaving it thinking nothing got accomplished or the meeting was pointless. Unfortunately, we are living in this time where just meeting is sometimes seen as productive, but that is not the case. Do not equate meeting with productivity, ever!
Deadlines are important because without them we all run around like chickens with our heads cut off. Come up with deadlines everyone agrees on for certain aspects of your project. Keep in mind that you should be bouncing ideas off each other to make your project better, so therefore a project should be finished at least one meeting before the last meeting so the last meeting can be used to tweak and perfect the project.
Have Fun, Meet People, But Remember This Is Your Grade
Don’t be afraid to step up, lead a little, and delegate some tasks. It’s nice to have fun and meet new people that you wouldn’t have necessarily worked with before, but it’s also your grade that’s in jeopardy. If the group isn’t going in the direction you thought it would, step up and lead a little. I hope you all have enjoyed my tips on creating better school related groups.