When Doing a Group Project. . .

29 Jun

Don’t get me started on the legitimacy of group projects.  I really think it is an instructor’s lazy way out of planning, grading, and time-management.  But part of the problem of groups are social behaviors of the members.  I guess as a general rule, people just don’t know how to work in teams well.  As a lifelong member of sports, leadership, student council, and clubs, I’ll impart some key points I have taken from successful interactions–and those that weren’t so much:

-Firstly, you are all in the group and that’s it.  So instead of kicking mud, just buck up and get it done.  You’ll have to accept Laurel's pics 476the fact that you’re going to work together as a team.

-Instead of looking for differences in team members, search for commonalities.  Believe me, this will help everyone find a middle ground and work nicer.

-Find something for everyone to do.  Make sure everyone has an equal part in the project.  Saying *insert task* here is already taken care of is closed-off.  Group projects are open and even things that are perceived to be done can always be improved upon.

Follow the golden rule–do unto others as you want done to you.  Don’t say or do things you wouldn’t want said & done to you.

Laurel's pics 055-Don’t shut ideas down.  Never say something negative when a new idea is brought to the table.  It takes courage to speak up about an idea, AND it might work.  Thinking of reasons why things won’t work is annoying and change-averse.  Especially if it’s the first thing out of your mouth.  Even if you think the idea 100% will never work, entertain it for a second.  How could it work?  Can it be modified?  Even if not, acknowledge the idea, take time to mull it over, and attempt to change it so it would work.  Discuss the pros & cons.  Shooting down ideas makes people stop saying them.

-Meet in the middle.  Compromise is the name of the game.  Give and take is central to group work.  If you get your way one time, offer for the other person/people to also get their way.  Keep it equal, and everyone’s Laurel's pics 157stamp will be on the project.  I think this is why some people slack off in group work–they don’t feel as if they CAN make a contribution, by having any control over the outcome of the project.  So they give over full control (all the work) to the dominant person.  Make sure everyone gets something they want–or you may just end up with ALL the work.

-Don’t criticize the other person’s efforts.  Even if you think they suck.  And if you must–b/c it’s explicitly against the project’s guidelines or some other extreme situation–temper it with 2 pieces of praise.  People remember negative things far better.  So if you gently put down a person’s idea (only b/c it is El Nino, L cubed, L-Tronexplicitly against the rules!) really, tell them 2 ideas of theirs you like.  Sounds cheesy–but really do this.

-Never use the words, “bad,” “insensitive,” or marginalizing a population” in association with your partner’s ideas or work.  I mean, c’mon this should be basic stuff–but using negative language to describe other group members or their ideas is off-putting, rude, and counter-productive.  Refer to golden rule above.

-Don’t ignore problems.  They need to be dealt with early on.  Silence makes problems grow, not disappear.  And it is disrespectful to other member’s feelings to deny problems or concerns.  When there is a disagreement, do not undervalue the other person’s feeling or opinions by saying there is no problem, and adding statements like, “relax” 8th grade VBor “chill out.”  You are pretty much saying, “You are oversensitive and stupid and I’m not listening to your high maintenance complaints.”  Not the greatest attitude from teamwork or productivity.

-Communications have broken down, nobody is happy, and some rules above were broken.  You have to fix it.  Firstly, take responsibility for YOUR bad behaviors.  Whatever they were.  Then, listen.  Really listen to the group’s concerns.  And all of you work together to FIX it.  Don’t rehash who’s fault it was or what went wrong–move to correct things.  Address problems by actively brainstorming solutions.  This is critical–don’t just complain or point out problems, say how to make errors better.  Otherwise you will be up against a defensive, upset Laurel's pics 555reaction.  The group will probably break down all-together at this point, and then what?  One person will end up doing all the work, everyone will be disgruntled, and nobody likes that story.

-OK, so you don’t like an idea or portion of the other person’s work.  Instead of bad-mouthing it, vetoing it, or deleting it, why not just modify it?  ADD to it to make it better.  Just remember to keep the original idea.  This is what can make a group project great.  This is multiple people linking brains to make things better then just one person alone.  It’s what will make everyone invested in the project too–and keep communication open, and respectful, and Sierra Exif JPEGpositive.

-I should have said this sooner, but start right away.  It is much easier to edit then conceptualize.  And one procrastinator holds up the entire group, because steps cannot be skipped without making crucial decisions as an individual.  Make all the decisions FIRST, and then if there is a lazy, slacker, procrastinator, at least you have the outline or bones of the project ready to turn in.  Let me repeat–Don’t save the project until the last minute, b/c this makes your partner have to procrastinate as well (Douche).

-Lastly, make sure to give everyone props.  Everyone should walk away feeling appreciated and valued and proud of their own and everyone else’s contribution to a project well done.

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Laurel's pics 233And when you’re watching a presentation:

-Don’t embarrass the presenters.  The experience is already nerve-wracking, don’t be a dick.  Remember–YOU have to take a turn up front too.

-Don’t ask intense questions they can’t answer.  Leave that to the instructor.

-It would actually be cool if you asked an easy or fun question the presenter might be confident about or ready to discuss.  Laurel's pics 833It’s OK to make other people look good–they just might return the favor.

-Don’t dispute what they say.  There’s no point to this–have you ever been presenting and someone’s argument made you change your facts?  No of course not, it’s too late.  This only makes people feel dumb and embarrassed.  It’s counter-productive and ass-holish to call peers on erroneous facts when the research is complete, papers are written, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

-Don’t criticism their research, visuals, or presenting style while they are putting themselves out there in front of the class.  facial muscles 1People are nervous.  They are humans.  Refer to golden rule.

-Especially don’t do these things if you’re the instructor.

-If you think someone was ill-prepared or did a shitty job, take off points.  No need for public humiliation   Shame on you, bitchy prof.

—–

Anyway, as a person who hates, hates, hates putting my grades in someone else’s hands, I hope some of these tips help every person in a team and make the project even better!  Because let’s face it, those mo-fo professors aren’t soon going to grade twice the work, take twice the time, and assign individual projects. . .

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