The secret to a successful group project

Photo: go digital/ Flickr.

Photo: go digital/ Flickr.

Group work is pretty high up on the list of things that every student hates along with fines, out of date milk and 9ams. But every degree will require you to do it at some point, so Kit Vickery tells us how we can make it a bit easier!

The Task

First and foremost, you need to get the actual work done. Arrange a time and place for your group to meet, just sit down together, and try and plan as much of it as possible before moving on to actually getting it done.

If you’re doing a presentation or something similar, it might be best to split up the work between the team when you’re assigned the task before arranging a time to bring all that work together. That way each person can work on their section at home, minimising the time you all have to be physically together and working.

Not everyone can sit down and work on command so this could work really well for productivity – or if you don’t get on with everyone!

The Group Part

A good time to arrange a meeting of the group is after a lecture or seminar that you all share – this way no one can claim they forgot! Pick a place where you’ll all be comfortable, but productive. If you’re worried about focusing, you might be better off picking somewhere quieter like the library.

When you sit down as a group, it’s important not to spend more than 2 hours at a time on your task. If it really has to be done – if you’ve left it till the last day perhaps – take a break after 2 hours and come back to it afterwards. It’s also good to remember that not everyone will have the same attention span, so make sure you find a pace that works for all of you.

Another thing you’re going to want to sort during your time together is the presentation of your work. If it’s a verbal presentation, work out who is going to say which sections and whether or not you need a script to prompt you along the way.

Before you go your separate ways make sure you’re all fully clear with who’s presenting what, who has the responsibility to bring the presentation, and what you all need to do beforehand.

The Presentation

When you present your piece, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes that fit the purpose of your presentation. It’s a good idea to go over your part in advance so you don’t end up realising you can’t pronounce a key word mid-presentation. Try and get some food before you arrive because there’s nothing worse than standing up in front of people with a constantly rumbling stomach.

When it’s your turn, remember to stay calm – everyone else is as nervous as you are! Take your time with your words and try not to rush through it. The louder and clearer you can make your voice, the more likely you are to get good marks.

Once you reach the end, it’s always good practice to listen to the other people presenting and support them through it. They’ve been doing exactly the same as you to reach this deadline and it’s important to support your fellow coursemates – you never know when you might need their support in the future!

Points to Remember

  • Split the work up into smaller chunks and assign each person a task.
  • Treat it like any other deadline and work the same way you would normally.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a break if you need one, but don’t take too many breaks that your group gets annoyed that you’re not doing your fair share.
  • Arrange a time and place to meet in advance so you can be sure it’s convenient for everyone involved.
  • Don’t be too scared, everyone’s in the same situation and they’re just as nervous!
  • Try and have fun! They may not be people you’d normally talk to in your lectures but they’re on your course and you’ll spend at least 3 years with these people. It could be a great opportunity to make new friends!

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