Working in a Group Is Better Than Working by Yourself

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Working in Groups

Description of this Guide
In this guide we shall consider generally how groups are formed and the different type of groups you may be faced with at university. We spend more time looking at the group project and how to develop an effective team. The other sections look at the different forms of study groups that you may encounter at university. All group work extends your inter-personal skills and this guide will help you identify what these skills are.

Learning Outcomes
1.Recognise how groups form and function.
2.Relate your knowledge of groups to team projects and other study groups. 3.Identify the inter-personal skills developed through group work. 4.Evaluate your developing inter-personal skills.

1.0About groups and teams
1.1How do groups function as teams?
1.2How do individuals become team players?
1.3The importance of ground rules

2.0Project teams
1. Get to know yourself and the individuals that make up your team 1. Establish your team’s profile
2.2Develop a team spirit
2.3Understand the task and develop a plan
4. Maintain the team
1. Things that worry you about team work

3.0Study groups
3.1In class
3.2Peer learning groups
3.2.1Helping a friend – coaching
3.2.2Private study groups
3.2.3Peer assisted learning
3.3Avoid plagiarising from each other (collusion)

4.0Reflect on your developing skills

The material in this guide is copyright © 2003 the University of Southampton. Permission is given for it to be copied for use within the University of Southampton. All other rights are reserved. Working in Groups

One of our major sources of well-being is our relationship with our family, friends, colleagues and tutors. Within each of these relationships we have different expectations and different roles. Knowing how to work effectively within these different groupings is therefore an important inter-personal skill we need to develop and continue developing throughout our lives. Working with groups of people at university can be quite varied and understanding how we and others function in these groups can save us a lot of hassle later.

In this guide you will look at some of the general principles of groups, aspects of the group project team, informal study groups and how you can identify the inter-personal skills you are developing.

1.0 About Groups and Teams

The terms ‘groups’ and ‘teams’ are generally used interchangeably. However, there are differences, and a team can be regarded as a group of people who come together for a defined task. It may mean that that they then disband once the task is complete. For the purposes of this guide therefore, we see groups as the more generic term and teams as task specific. In order for teams to work well, they need to understand how people work in groups.

1.1How do Groups Function as Teams?

Groups are very often formed just for a particular task and may not have worked together before, so you might feel a little awkward with each other. Since you will probably be working within a time limit, it is important therefore to understand a little about how groups function in order to be an effective functioning team as soon as possible. John Adair (1986) developed a classic model of how teams function.

Depending on the type of group it is, you may want to concentrate on personal development (leadership development, outward bound activities etc) where taking care of individual needs are paramount. In most university courses however, you will probably come together for some academic project – so you will need to concentrate on achieving the task. In order to do that effectively you will need to bear in mind how you develop the group and take care of individuals within that group. You will need to...
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