A “group project” always seems to have the most varied reactions amongst students. From these initial reactions it is easy to identify those that have had the good, the bad and the ugly experiences. Regardless of ones opinion on the matter, there is almost no way to graduate college without doing at least one group project. In fact, working well with others is a quality frequently asked about in job interviews. So even if you are one of those individuals whose last group project horror story could inspire the next Stephen King novel, you may need to let go and accept that it was not the last one. There are a few things that one can do to make the process less painful, for everyone. After years of participating in group projects, I feel confident enough to share some helpful tips.
1) Self-identification: As soon as you are notified of an upcoming group project figure out where you stand in these two areas:
- Level of devotion to the project: How much do you honestly care about this project? As someone that has been on the receiving end of picking up the “non-caring” individual’s slack, I am not suggesting you use your carelessness as an excuse to drop the ball. I believe that being honest with yourself helps to keep yourself in check. For example, if you are always the designated leader in a group, but have very little invested in this project let someone else take the lead.
- Availability to participate: Be honest from the beginning with your group members. Everyone is busy but one of the great perks of group projects is the ability to divide and conquer.
2) Group selection: If you have the ability to pick your group members, always remember to choose with “your brain and not your heart.” Just because someone is your best friend does not mean they will be the best group member. If your group is picked for you remember to go in with a positive attitude.
3) Group identification: Identify (first only to yourself) each group members strengthens and weaknesses. This is hard because sometimes you won’t have much time to get to know everyone. If you don’t know anything about your group members, suggest taking turns sharing information such as class standing, majors/minors and hobbies.
While these three steps do not guarantee a smooth process, they should help get you started. Remember to always keep a positive attitude even if things get out of control.
Ariana Lopez is a senior at WWU majoring in Journalism/ Public Relations. She works as the Associate Director of Public Relations for WWU Associated Students. In her free time she loves to read and spend time with her family.