Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no doubt about it: group projects are incredibly practical and helpful in preparing students for future academic success and for real life beyond the classroom. You will definitely have group projects throughout high school and college, and you will most likely be working with a team at some point in your professional career. Learning how to successfully work in a group will benefit any student.
Why Are Group Projects So Challenging?
First, group projects bring together different personalities and working styles. This is why they are so critical, but also why they can be frustrating. Second, group projects often take place over a longer period of time, so it’s often necessary to coordinate schedules if you all must meet outside of the classroom to work together. Third, group projects usually demand a division of labor, which, if done incorrectly, can lead to some group members feeling like they are taking on a majority of the work while others don’t do anything. Finally, the grading criteria for a group project can be different from the criteria of your usual assignments, which might feel stressful or intimidating.
Tip 1: Meet & Go Over Assignment Expectations As Soon As Possible
Get your group together to meet in person as soon as possible after the assignment and groups are announced by your teacher. Go over the assignment, grading criteria, and timeline to ensure everyone understands the requirements. Exchange contact information and decide what your main form of communication will be, whether that is email, a group chat, or a messenger app.
Tip 2: Consider Assigning a Formal Team Manager or Leader
Sometimes teachers assign a leader and sometimes they do not. If your teacher does not assign a leader, consider doing so in your first group meeting. A leader doesn’t have to be the loudest person or the person who tells everyone else what to do. It can be someone who makes sure each element of the assignment is completed, creates the group chat, and submits the final project.
Tip 3: Determine Your Group Meeting Schedule
If you aren’t given time in class to work or you know you will need additional time outside of class to complete your assignment, make sure you determine when you will all meet again. You can simply set the next meeting date or you can create a schedule and say, “We will meet every Sunday at 3 PM at the local library.”
Some helpful scheduling hacks:
Consider setting a tentative recurring meeting date, to be used as needed. That way, if there is a week where you know you’ll need to meet in-person or an emergency comes up, you avoid last minute scheduling and everyone has that time blocked off in their calendar for meetings.
Make sure every member blocks out your agreed-upon meeting time in their calendars.
A day or two before, have your group leader double check with everyone that you all are still meeting at your designated time and place.
If everyone cannot meet in a physical location, or you feel that you don’t need to meet in-person, consider briefly checking in over Face Time or Zoom to make sure every member is on track.
Rachel is the Director of Marketing at Hodis Learning & Music. She has years of experience in marketing and public relations. Rachel is also an experienced reading, writing, English, and Spanish tutor.