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Surviving Group Projects

Most students dread group projects - but they shouldn't have to. Find out how to successfully conquer the sticky group project situation before any problems occur.

Ashley Paskill

March 09, 2016

Surviving Group Projects
It happens every semester. You look at the syllabus for a class and see the most dreaded phrase in the life of a college student: group project. Your memory is flooded with flashbacks of previous group projects gone wrong. You feel your body tense up in anger and anxiety, nervous about the group you will work with. You shudder at the concept of trying to work through the group’s schedules to find times to meet and work. These two words make up the most feared phrase on campuses everywhere. However, group projects do not have to be painful. If handled correctly, you can get things done with everybody doing their share of the work and you can get the grade you desire.
Communicate with your group often.
As soon as you know whom you will be working with on the project, write down everyone’s contact information. Exchanging contact information, such as each group member’s email and phone number, will help you (and all group members) stay on track with what needs to done. Check in on the progress of what everyone says they will do. If someone isn’t doing their fair share of work, confront them or let the professor know so that the project may continue to run smoothly. If you are having difficulty with a part of the work you were given, communicating this difficulty early on will allow you to get help from your group.
Don’t procrastinate on getting started or doing your portion of the work.
Group projects often have more components than typical individual projects, and waiting until the last minute to start will leave you and your group frazzled.
Get started as soon as you receive the assignment and your group. Divvy up the work early so that if issues arise, they can be solved early on.
Make sure everyone knows what they need to do and that they’re doing it.
Split up the work evenly to make sure everyone has a fair share to do. Find out where strengths lie so that people can do what they are good at and your group can get the best grade possible. Check in a few times a week to update your group on your progress and to ensure everyone else is on the right path. If one member is not holding up their share, meet with him/her to find out if they need help and to encourage them to be working.
Clue in your professor when necessary.
If you have tried everything possible to get people to do their fair share of work, let your professor know what is going on. He/she may be able to suggest ideas of what to do to help get your group to work. The professor may even make a general comment to the class about work not getting done. Communicate with your professor early on with issues. Very little can be done if you let your professor know the night before the project is due that part of it is missing because of a groupmate not doing their work. The same thing goes for asking questions about how to do a part of the project. The sooner you ask questions or report problems to your professor, the more time you have to make sure everything looks good to turn in!
Take advantage of tech resources.
Utilize the wide variety of technology available to make research and collaborative projects easier. Most schools allow students to access a wide range of databases through their library website, allowing students to have easy access to scholarly articles to include in research. These databases cover a wide variety of subjects and topics. Social media outlets such as Facebook can be a good way to keep in touch with your group through group chats and even Facebook groups where you can post updates and documents relevant to your project. Google also has a wide variety of collaborative features. Google Docs allows you to post a document and have your group make edits or add their information. Email and texting allows you to send messages to your whole group, which is easier than trying to relay messages between people.
Once you think you are finished, go over your project again.
Take a couple days away from the project and then go back to it. Look for grammatical errors and spelling and general mistakes you may have missed. Watch for technical glitches that you may have forgotten to fix. These small things can be the reason that points are deducted. It is better to take the time to fix the small errors to get the maximum amount of points possible. If possible, have someone else look at it. They may be better at spotting issues and rough spots since they have not seen it before. It is crucial to get the project done early to have time to review it and fix errors. Utilizing group members to check each other’s work can be helpful, because it allows a fresh set of eyes to review each person’s work.

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