Group Projects. Nobody really likes them, but we all have to do them at some point. That said, it’s no wonder that study groups are disappearing. Naturally, working with a group of strangers comes with its problems, but they don’t go away once you graduate! You’ve got to master this! You’ll have to do a lot of it in the workplace. Here is a list of things you can do to make the group project experience less painful and more productive!
Say Something, And Say It Quick
You’ll be allowed to choose your own groups if you’re lucky. In that case, great! If you don’t, you’ve got some socializing to do. There’s usually an awkward moment in class when you’ve got to sit with your group while your teacher explains your assignment. Take that opportunity to introduce yourself! Learn your partner’s names and be friendly! You’ll come off as a team player and someone fun to work with, rather than That-One-Guy-Or-Girl-In-My-Group-That-I-Don’t-Really-Know.
Find The Alpha, Be The Alpha
There’s always that one person, or couple of people, that assumes responsibility and takes control of the group right from the start.
You know who I’m talking about.
They’re the one that comes up with the ideas, coordinates meeting times, introduces themselves to everyone (ahem), and is heavily involved all the way through. Find that person. Stick with them, learn with them, offer your own ideas, approach the group together. Cooperating with proactive people is a great way to learn how to work with others. Every ship needs a captain, why can’t it be you?
When your group meets to work on your assignment, a lot of ideas will be passed around. As a member of that group, it’s your responsibility to listen to those ideas, discuss them with the other members, and decide as a group if you’d like to include them. The trick here is to keep an open mind. Everyone probably has an idea of what they want the final product to look like. What you’re being tested on is your ability to take those ideas and combine them into something you all can be proud of. This are basic management principles for you to learn now that would be useful for any kind of civil engineering project. Discuss all of your ideas early, get on the same page, decide on a direction, and move together as one!
Pull Your Weight
This is every student’s nightmare: You’re stuck with a bunch of slackers who don’t care about their own grades, much less yours. They sit around and mindlessly agree with everyone’s opinions at every group meeting, they don’t work on a single thing, and then they show up to the presentation and take the credit. You better believe it’s happening RIGHT NOW. Don’t be that person. Do your part of the assignment, and give it your best shot. If you suspect anyone in your group of being lazy, offer to help with their portion of the work. Best case scenario? They’ll accept and you can work together to create a stronger project, or at least they’ll get the hint and start picking up the slack.
At the end of your project, your teacher will likely have all of you present your work. As you speak to the class, be sure to give credit to your fellow group members for their individual ideas. If there was a member who made a particularly great point, or did an important part of the project, let everyone know! It will give your fellow group member a little more confidence, inspire them to give it back to you, and show everyone that your group is united!
You see? Group projects don’t have to be so bad! It’s all about getting out of your own space and learning how to be interactive, insightful, and friendly toward your peers. Try it out the next time you’re given a group project!