Guide to Group Projects: Less Fuss, More A+

Midterms, early morning classes and group projects.

What do these three things have in common? They strike dread in the hearts of college students everywhere. What’s worse is there is no easy way out of these academic obligations. Midterms are set in syllabus stone and early classes are sometimes a sleepy necessity of filling degree requirements. Group projects, though, may just take the cake for “most aggravating.” Although they seem like a good way to split up work, there is a time or two in everyone’s college career when a group project turns sour due to certain types of group dynamics. Want to know how to deal with common group project problems? Valley has got you covered with a guide to the most difficult group issues and how to cope with them.

You’ve Never Spoken to Your Assigned Group Before

When you are assigned a group for a project, chances are you aren’t friends with (or maybe you don’t even know the names) of the others in your group. Class lets out, and the members of your group scatter into the halls never to be seen again, at least not until the next class. Your group does not convene until some brave soul (probably you) says, “hey, I think you’re in my group…when are we doing this thing?” Don’t wait to reach out! As soon as the groups are assigned, take note of the names of the people in your group. Catch up with them after class or at the beginning of the next class with a friendly “can we make a GroupMe for our group project?” and voila! You are now a communication connoisseur that’s starting the conversation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new people to work on your project; chances are they’re happy you did.

Your Group Procrastinates

Procrastination is a college fact of life. But for a group project, procrastination can be detrimental because you and your group members may end up on different pages on the day of your presentation or due date. So, you have a GroupMe entitled “English Project” or “Biology Lab Group”.  Now what? Delegation! As soon as you have each others contact information, immediately come up with a game plan, even if it’s tentative. Brainstorm a format, establish a timeline and most importantly split up the work for each member to accomplish. As time moves forward, everyone will have a clear understanding of what to do and when, so everyone at least has the opportunity to not procrastinate.

Your Group Doesn’t Get Along

Your group has a GroupMe and each member has a chunk of the project to work on. What could go wrong? A difficult group could be a problem. It’s important to remember that every student deals with group dynamics differently and you won’t always get along with your group members because of this. If you’re lucky, your group may work like a well-oiled Penn State machine where you divide and conquer your project flawlessly. Most commonly though, you may find yourself rising to a leadership role in a sluggish group or being a worker bee under the supervision of a group project boss. Perhaps your group is made up of peers with vastly different ideas or opinions. Or maybe your group doesn’t see eye-to-eye because of language or culture barriers. With each new group situation comes struggles, but the best way to handle group-work friction is to remain positive, neutral and receptive. Be kind when met with disagreements and upbeat when handling idea gridlock.  Remember, you’re always in the right if you remain a friendly team-player and you do your fair share of the work; the rest the professor can handle in the grade-books.

If there’s one thing most students can agree on it’s that midterms, early morning classes and group projects can really suck. Although they are all inescapable in college, Valley‘s tips may make group projects a little more manageable.  How do you cope with group work? Let us know!