Participating in Group Work
Participating in group work is an important skill to develop as it is something you will do in your student life and in your working career. Job advertisements often highlight ‘good team worker’ as a crucial skill for potential recruits. These may involve a group presentation or a group report followed by a reflective piece of writing and/or an individual assignment. Take notes or record your lecturer’s assignment briefing. Module Handbooks usually includes the assessment criteria (see Appendix 1) so it is important that you work well together to achieve success. It will be quite obvious to your lecturer whether you have worked well as a team and whether you prepared your assignment as a group. Groups formed by students to discuss case studies or discuss an assignment can help improve your grades and make the task more manageable. Keep a journal and record your progress, hindrances, issues and successes, plus any pitfalls to avoid next time!
Working in a TEAM? Together Everyone Achieves More
Successful group work will involve:
• Clear, shared goals.
• Good communication amongst members of the group.
• Agreed ways of working towards the group goals.
• Support and cooperation, rather than competitiveness. • Listening to one another.
• Autonomous team working.
• Arrangements for monitoring progress and taking corrective action, if necessary. • Keep to deadlines – it is unfair to let others down who are depending on you, in order for the whole group to succeed. • High levels of motivation.
• Plan – do – review.
Why work in groups?
Team building is vital to any organisation and by working in groups you can: • Share resources.
• Share ideas and information.
• Share abilities.
• Learn from and help each other.
• Stimulate creativity and innovation.
• Increase motivation.
• Solve complex problems.
• Can help you get better grades.
You will need to identify your strengths, which you can contribute to the group. You will also identify your weaknesses, and ideally the group will support and help you work on turning these weaknesses into strengths.
IH have some useful DVDs on group work that may be helpful to watch (Assert yourself: learning to be assertive; Building the perfect team: Belbin’s team-role theory in action; Does the team work? Improving effectiveness through teamwork; It’s a deal! Win-win negotiation deals; Team leading: how to become an effective team leader; The great communicator: communication skills for all).
• It is up to the members of the group to make the first contact with one another. Exchange telephone numbers and email addresses so the group can meet. • An icebreaker task is a good way to make each member feel comfortable with others that s/he does not know (see Appendix 2). • Ensure you understand the instructions in the assignment. Each group member should have read the assignment brief and prepare to discuss it at the first meeting. • Break the assignment into practicable chunks. Agree deadlines to complete each part. • The group needs to compile and agree set ground rules (see Appendix 3). These rules can be reviewed and renegotiated from time to time – keeping useful rules in practice, amending or creating new ones as solutions to unanticipated problems that arise. • Set realistic aims and targets within a given timeframe that all members understand and agree with. • Negotiate roles and tasks: Who will be the leader? Who will do what? When? With what resources? Allocate tasks according to the experience, expertise or strength of each member. However, task allocation can also be allocated to build on a student’s inexperience and areas of weakness. • Establish a regular programme of meetings to review task progress and group process. The group should keep in regular contact so plan where you will meet. Will it be at...