Why do we have group projects?
In school, group projects are used to cultivate 21st century skills (e.g. time management, communication skills and learning to work with people) among us students to prepare us for the working world.
But even though there is much to learn from group projects, many students still don’t like group projects. This is because sometimes, you might have to work with teammates who might be a little unreliable.
Teammates are important, but there are other ways for your group project to succeed (yes, even in unreliable groups). So here is your guide to having a successful group project!
Appoint a Leader
In a group project, you need a leader to spearhead the entire project. If not, the group may feel unfocused, have no direction and may not work well together.
The leader has to delegate roles, responsibilities and tasks, and plan timelines and deadlines for the project. On top of that, they need to have good chemistry with their group members and make the group feel secure and reassured during the span of the project.
Make sure to appoint someone who is organised, responsible and able to work with others.
Read the Instructions Carefully
In every group project, you are given rubrics, instructions or submission requirements. Understand them and keep referring to them, even as you complete your various group tasks.
Here are some things you should take note of:
1. Submission requirements: what needs to be submitted
2. Marking rubrics: how your work is going to be graded and what you need to do to get a certain grade
3. Components and the marks assigned to them
4. Specific requirements like slide font size and type, number of slides, word count, page limit etc
This helps you plan and manage your time properly and organise your project. You can dedicate more time and effort to components that hold more marks. It also helps you plan the timeline and milestone checks for the entirety of the project.
Set Milestone Checks
Usually, your project can last up to 6 months (a whole semester) or if you are taking part in a competition, it may go up to a year. So you need to set milestone checks for your group to make sure you are on track.
Here’s what you need to do during milestone checks:
1. What is completed
2. What is left to be done
3. Quality of work
4. Which areas need to be improved
5. Assign tasks to group members and give them a deadline
Preferably, you want to set milestone checks with intervals of 3 weeks to a month in between. Milestone checks lets you assess your progress and how your group is faring so you know what you can do better and what you should maintain. Use the time wisely.
Keep Everything Shared
In this digital age, it is easy to keep everything shared. So do it! Open up a shared Google Drive file dedicated to your project. Inside, it should contain all the files you need for your project.
Here’s what you should put in your shared Google Drive file:
1. Raw files
When you’re working on group projects, there’s bound to be many raw files to work with and it can get a little messy, so organise it. Name them and put them in separate folders if you need to
Raw files can include photos, videos, interview recordings and memos.
2. Your work
Your draft and final works should all be in the file. This is especially important because just in case someone loses it on the day of submission, you can still get it back from the google drive file.
3. A plan for your project
Always keep a spreadsheet of project deadlines and tasks. You and your group mates can always refer to it when in doubt. Use it during your milestone checks, too, to track your progress.
Keeping a shared folder or file is important, this ensures that everyone can access anything at any time they want. Additionally, if your teacher suspects you of plagiarism, at least you have the documents with you to prove your case.
Keep an Open Communication
It is a group project, nobody can do the entire project alone. You need to communicate with your group members, but in a way that everyone else is included.
Make sure you have open communication channels like group chats on Telegram or WhatsApp. Then if you have any questions, ask them on the group chat instead of asking an individual.
If you’re confused, they might just be as confused as you, so ask in your group chats. This way, everyone is clear and updated about what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Try not to separate into cliques within your group because it spoils the group’s chemistry.
Group projects are full of uncertainties, and there are many factors that might affect your project. Especially when you have group members who you feel you cannot trust.
I hope this article shows you how you can still have a successful group project despite how unpredictable it may seem. Good luck and all the best for your project!