The Not-So-Dreaded Group Project, Take One!
By Emily Jacques
Start Your Projects!
The teacher has just made the dreaded announcement, “We’re doing a group project.” He or she has just divided you into groups, so you awkwardly waddle-drag your desk over to the circle of people you will be working with. You all stare at each other, wondering, “What do we do now?” Follow these three steps and you’ll find that your group will have a game plan that’s manageable.
Break the Silence
This is a tough one for many people — there’s the pressure that you’ll say something stupid or you just don’t have any ideas yet. Plus, you haven’t had a change to figure out what the assignment is all about. So the first step would be to relax and go over the assignment with everybody. Break the assignment into steps and make sure everyone is clear on what the final results should be. Some typical steps in an assignment would be
? Research the topic
? Discuss what the group thinks about the topic
? Decide what the group wants to say about the topic
? Plan how the group wants to present the topic
? Create the presentation or essay
Breaking the assignment into steps helps to give everyone a timeline to do their work.
Now you’re ready to start brainstorming. How does the group want to complete the assignment? How will the presentation look or sound? What form with the presentation take? Everyone needs to contribute ideas and listen to every other person.
If everyone has a clear part to play in the project, it’s more likely that things will get done. Make sure one person becomes the “point person”. This person will make sure everyone has everything they need to get their stuff done, and will be the one person everyone will go to first if there is a problem.
When everybody is working on everything at the same time, then there is a lot of room for confusion and hurt feelings. Arrange the workload so each person can go off and accomplish a small part of the project independently and bring it back to the group. Then the group can combine all these elements into the group presentation or essay.
Agree to meet at each major stage in the assignment to see how people are coming. This is the time to admit that you need help or find out if every one is doing their job — rather than discovering that something didn’t get done right before the deadline. Meetings also help solve communication problems and help your group find time to work on the assignment.