3 tips for successful group work

Darcy Nathan, Editorial assistant
November, 2023

Whether it's a written assignment, presentation, or research project, teamwork is a skill that will serve you well throughout your academic and professional life

Navigating group work is an inevitable part of the university experience. While group work can be challenging, it also offers learning opportunities that allow you to hone your communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills.

Establish expectations

Effective teamwork starts with clear goals. This involves  stating the project's objectives, deadlines, and what the team needs to achieve, ensuring that every group member fully understands their roles and responsibilities.

Here are some tips for establishing clear goals and expectations:

  • Define project objectives - clear objectives provide a shared understanding of the project's purpose and direction, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same end goal.
  • Clarify deadlines - by  outlining deadlines, the team can prioritise tasks, and ensure that the project is completed on schedule and to the expected standards.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities - when each team member knows what they are responsible for, it helps to avoid confusion and errors. This frees up time for group members to focus on their individual tasks and contributes to the overall success of the project.
  • Promote accountability - by clearly defining expectations and regularly monitoring progress, teams can foster a sense of accountability, ensuring that everyone is meeting their commitments and contributing to the project's success.

By adopting these strategies from the outset, you can prevent potential conflicts and minimise the reliance on tutor intervention throughout the project.

Use digital tools

Teamwork is built on effective communication, which allows team members to work together towards common goals. Communication is also vital in ensuring your group meets the  deadline.

Consider using project management tools and communication platforms to stay organised, track progress, and maintain regular contact with your team members.

Some tools for teamwork are:

  • Creately - an infinite whiteboard with hundreds of templates for the visualisation of ideas.
  • Google Jamboard - a digital whiteboard which allows team members to work on ideas in real-time.
  • Miro - online collaborative whiteboard  allowing teams to define goals and visualise priorities.
  • Trello - a project management tool that simplifies workflow visualisation and progress tracking through cards and boards.
  • Padlet - allows each member to post notes and pool ideas by themes.

Ensure everyone contributes

It's important to value each team member's  strengths and perspectives to create a collaborative and dynamic work setting. Encourage everyone to participate and create an environment where everyone feels valued and can contribute.

While some people are naturally confident in group work situations, others may initially find putting their points forward challenging.

You may need to ask some quieter individuals directly if they have anything to add. The group will benefit from hearing everyone's opinion and others may have valuable insight that you have not considered.

While disagreements are inevitable, it's important not to make things personal. Try to ensure that discussion and disagreements are focused on the task in hand. If you have an issue with the level of commitment of certain members, speak to them individually and check there's not something else going on that they may need your support with.

Remember, groupwork is a learning experience, not just about the final product. Learn from each other, collaborate effectively, and enjoy the process to make group work successful.

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