Do you groan at the thought of working on a group project? Does the idea of sharing your work with others make your skin crawl? Do you think it’s impossible for online learners to collaborate successfully?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please keep reading.
Studies show that students engaged in group activities are developing skills for all areas of life. The “What Are the Benefits of Group Work?,” posted by Carnegie Mellon University, outlines the benefits of group work, including planning and time management, the ability to receive and give constructive feedback, as well as an overall enhancement of communication skills. While those outcomes may seem kind of obvious, group work can also help students challenge their own assumptions as well as develop their own sense of identity within a diverse group.
It may be difficult to see the benefits of group work while you are in the pits, but it’s important to try and make the best of your experience. The following tips were collected from my students, co-workers, and own personal experience. Hopefully by employing some of them you will have positive group project experiences.
And do it often. Talk to your group members, talk to your instructor, talk to yourself! If you have a question or need clarification, ask for it. Make sure you all have an open line of communication. Most of the time you will be working with students across the country from you, so utilizing email and chat services is going to be critical.
Don’t be afraid to share:
Working in a group of peers can be intimidating. We too often feel the twinge of self-doubt when first meeting with a group of intellectuals, but I challenge you to let go of those feelings early on. You are all taking the same class and trying to learn the same things. Some things may come easier to you than others, so use this opportunity to share your experiences as well as listen to the experiences of others.
Let go of expectations:
Expectations come in all shapes and sizes. This is great for diversity’s sake, but can make working in a group challenging. Try and come up with some group expectations early on so everyone starts out on the same page. In the end, you can only control the work you put forth. This brings me to my next point…
Be a good group member:
We all have a list of things we want from our group members. Mine includes things like punctuality, enthusiasm, and a dash of razzle dazzle. It’s natural that there will be some varying expectations but to be a successful group, you yourself must be an active participant. Answer people’s emails, participate in discussions and carry your own weight.