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The 5 Students You Meet in Group Projects

The 5 Students You Meet in Group Projects

The truth is these group exercises are also exercises in life because, in the workplace, you’re going to experience the same exact types of people.

Elizabeth Hoyt

March 04, 2014

Group projects. By now, you realize that they can be a blessing and a curse because you have to deal with the people you’re given. The truth is these group exercises are also exercises in life because, in the workplace, you’re going to experience the same exact types of people.

Perhaps, not to the extreme that you’ll experience in group projects (sometimes, more of an extreme) but, throughout your academic career, you’ve likely noticed that there are several distinct types of group member personalities. However, you still may not have discovered how to deal with each character.

Don’t worry – we have tips on how to approach each person’s to better handle situations, know where they’re coming from and, ultimately work together so that you can work together to achieve the grade you’re all hoping for.

While we may not have every personality type down, most students will more or less fit into one of the following descriptions, allowing you to gain a little more insight into where their head might be at and how you might be able to better work with them. You will likely even recognize yourself in one of the descriptions!

Check out the following types of student personalities you’re likely to encounter in a group project and how you can learn to approach the person and situation to obtain a positive outcome (and grade):

The Invisible Student

How you’ll recognize this person:

You know they’re in your group because you’ve confirmed with your teacher three times and she swears they’re actually in your class, though, come to think of it, she’s never actually seen them either.

Once in a while they’ll respond to an email with some sort of a vague response, neither confirming nor denying that they’ll actually attend a group meeting, but you know in your heart of hearts not to get your hopes up.

How to handle the situation:

Unfortunately, this person doesn’t really offer much in terms of opportunity to work with to make this better. This is a scenario where you don’t have much of a choice other than to speak to your professor about getting the person removed from your group. If you don’t, each member of the group (or, in some cases, one member) will have to end up doing the person’s extra work which isn’t fair for anyone involved.

The Silent Student

How you’ll recognize this person:

This person will likely show up to all of the group meetings but not contribute to the discussion, have an opinion on the project your group is working on and not volunteer to work on anything when it comes time to do so.

What’s interesting is that this silence doesn’t seem to be attributed to shyness or an introverted personality but rather disinterest or laziness. Look for the person texting in the corner – that’s your clue to finding this group member!

How to handle the situation:

Try to promote group discussions, like going around in a circle and asking each group member to contribute an idea or an area they would like to contribute to make sure each person’s opinion is heard.

Or, perhaps, asking direct questions may be a good route. When asked direct questions, it’s difficult to deny giving an answer. Make sure, however, that you’re not asking questions with yes or no answers because he or she is likely to give those if the option is available.

For example, ask things like, “What areas do you have talents in that would lend to the project that you’d like to work on?” If they answer, “I don’t know,” you might jokingly answer, “Oh, come on, I’m sure you have talents!” Remember, remaining positive may help them open up and share more with the group.

The Procrastinator

How you’ll recognize this person:

They offer to take on tasks, however, they never email when they say they will. They wait until the very last minute to finish the tasks and, though they seem to follow through, you don’t know if you can trust them because, well, they are just a group member.

The good thing about this person is they do seem to care about the assignment and offer to take on tasks in the first place – if only they would stop giving the group mild heart attacks!

How to handle the situation:

Create group deadlines and talk to the person. People do work differently, however, if he or she doesn’t give the rest of the group enough time to work on their areas of the project, which depends on getting that portion of the work, that’s unfair.

Likely, this group member cares about the assignment and will understand that – he or she just hasn’t thought of it that way. If it continues to be a huge issue, however, you may need to talk to your professor. You don’t need to aim to get this person a failing grade but, remember, your grade lies in the balance, too.

Over-Promisor, Under-Deliverer

How you’ll recognize this person:

This student promises to take on the world with the best art skills, the most amazing computer graphics and an uncle who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows someone that can get you a camera to record a music video for your presentation. No, you can’t see it before the presentation, just trust him.

This student is a classic over-promisor, under-deliverer (OPUD). The promises are made with completely good intentions, however, the delivery will likely fall short and, unfortunately, your group relied on those promises to make your presentation a success.

The day of the presentation rolls around and OPUD shows up with no music video (My uncle couldn’t get in contact – I tried SO hard, I’m so sorry, you guys!), a 2nd grade art project with construction paper (Doesn’t it look great – retro, right?) and a chart made on Microsoft Word (Do you like the use of word and clip art? I thought it added something special!)

How to handle the situation:

All group members should participate fully within group projects. But, surprises the day of a presentation are never a good thing! Make sure you collaborate and see everyone’s work before you present or turn in the final project so that the project looks professional and meshes well together.

Make sure you give positive feedback to each member regarding their contributions and never put a group member’s work down. Constructive criticism can help but make it a personal rule that for each piece of constructive criticism you’re giving, you’re dolling out a compliment as well.

The Control Freak

How you’ll recognize this person:

You’ll definitely recognize this person because they’ll be the one in constant contact via all avenues: email, Facebook, Twitter, cell phone, etc.

They’re very concerned about how the project is coming along and, most likely, already have a project outline and contact sheet created for each group member at your first group meeting.

Well, at least they care. Perhaps, even, a bit too much. They often take on a bulk of the work load because they don’t trust that anyone else is capable enough to do it correctly.

How to handle the situation:

Let them know that, while you appreciate all of their hard work and effort, you’re completely capable of doing your own work. Say that you know how stressful group projects can be but you’re willing to take on whatever tasks necessary and they don’t need to worry when it comes to you. In fact, you’re probably just as worried as they are and you’ll get through it together! That way, they’ll likely see you as a friend rather than a dreaded group member.


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