Being a team player is probably the one skill any employee will be pleased to see on an applicant’s resumé. For this reason, during your time at Robert Gordon you will often be required to complete group tasks, develop group projects and a part of your final grade may even depend on group coursework.
In the Anglo-Saxon world and some European countries group coursework are quite common even in high schools. But this is not a norm in many other parts of the world and for some international students, the idea of an assessed group project may be quite new and stressful.
You may feel anxious at the idea of group coursework due to being shy or other personality traits. Here are a few tips which may help you approach group coursework in a more productive and stress-free way.
Get to know each other:
Often you will be grouped in teams by your lecturer and if you already know every other teammate, well that’s great! But chances are you will not always be that lucky. So, the first step will be getting to know each other in terms of interests, ideas, strengths and weaknesses. A good idea to do is once you have a list of names maybe try and set up a group chat on a preferred app (Messenger, WhatsApp and so on). If you are not really into the idea of a social media search you can alternatively try looking for their RGU email address. After getting a hold of the entire group you will be able to schedule a first casual meeting and finally start breaking the ice.
Time is often the element which stresses students the most. In group projects, it is very important to meet in person at least a few times. Remember people can always ignore a message but not if the person is talking face to face. But different people will have different schedules: someone works, someone has appointments or holidays booked, someone wants to go to the gym and so on. A good way to prevent arguments and disappointments is to schedule at least three meetings ahead. Also, try giving deadlines to each other from the outset. For example, you may want to come up with an idea for the project before the end of the month or you may want to set up a date for having the first draft of the report done. There is no way of guaranteeing that all the group will be able to respect these internal deadlines, but at least you will have agreed on something for a starter.
This is probably more a matter of common decency than anything else. But it is surely worth a mention. Everybody is busy, so be on time at meetings. Everybody can have a bad day, even yourself, and everyone should always be considerate of other’s people feelings. Do not hold back on issues present in the group or the project, but rather than yelling or getting angry try to give constructive criticism.
Talk about your skills and insecurities:
Everyone has strength and weakness which should be considered when assigning roles and responsibilities. Some groups will immediately decide who is going to be the leader, who will be the notetaker and so on. In other cases, people may prefer a democratic approach and gradually shift towards a role or another in an organic way. In any case whatever you do, make sure?to feel confident in it. If you do not know how to do something or you feel like you are not the right member to do it talk about this with the rest of the group. Chances are the members will appreciate your honesty and will try to find a way to make everyone happy.?
Split between happy and downy:
This is actually an advice which my professor gave us only a week ago. When it comes to creative and original ideas people will have different opinions. You aren’t always going to agree with one another and that is totally okay but do so respectfully and be courteous of that person’s feelings. Don’t let personal opinions get in the way of what they are presenting- chances are the idea is probably well rounded. It’s not a pleasant experience to be singled out and dismissed. To avoid this, you may want to have at least two members of the group as the “happy” ones or in other words; the supporters, the motivators who will try to find the positive aspect in any reasonable idea.
Finally, remember: all work and no play make Jack a dull boy! Whatever you do, try and have some fun. Whether you knew your groupmates or not prior to the assessment, you may very well find that you like them! At the end of all that hard work it’s always a good idea to go out and celebrate your successes with one another! Chances are you will end up becoming friends and then all that worry provided a positive outcome.