How to Make the Best of a Group Project

Group projects are an essential part of the college experience. If you don’t get them right, it can have a negative impact on your GPA.

Group project. The only other two-word phrase that can scare a college student more is “finals week”. Why are group projects always so lamented? It’s probably because they usually count as a big part of your grade and you have to rely on other people to get the grade you want. No matter how you feel about them, they’re an essential part of college. College professors often push group projects on you because, when you get a job, you’re going to have to work with people in order to complete a task or project. You can’t get through life without working with other people, you can however make the best of it and here’s how you do it.

Choose Your Group Members Wisely

If possible, choose people you know will give the project their best. If you know someone who’s not giving the class their full effort or they’re not knowledgeable on the subject, they’re probably not the best people to be in a group with. If you are assigned groups instead…

Get to Know Your Group Members

As someone who’s shy, I know how hard this can be. Fortunately, the hard part has already been done for you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with these people. By getting to know them, it’ll make the long compilation sessions easier.

Figure Out the Best Way to Communicate

There are many ways you can communicate with your group members. You have the standard communication platforms like GroupMe, Slack, and Yammer. You also have collaboration platforms like Microsoft SharePoint and GoogleDocs. In my experience, GroupMe and GoogleDocs have always been the preferred methods in my groups but Slack, Yammer, and SharePoint have many tools and features that make them more useful methods of communication and collaboration.

Clarify Roles and Expectations

You want to make sure everyone in the group knows what they’re doing. You also want to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. If everyone knows their roles, it makes the work more efficient and streamlined because you won’t have people not knowing what to do or overlapping with each other. If everyone knows what’s expected of them, it makes it harder for them to slack off.

Set Deadlines

Even though each person has their own part they need to worry about, the group needs to turn in a project where all those parts work together. By setting deadlines, you leave time to compile all the work together. Depending on how big the project and how long you have to work on it, I recommend you set the deadlines on individual contributions one or two weeks before the project is due.

Finish Early

Maybe a group member made a mistake or your group didn’t address everything your professor wanted. In those cases, you want to leave enough time to fix these mistakes. I’ve worked on projects where we’ve stayed up until 2 am the night before the project was due, trying to make everything work together. It isn’t a good feeling. You probably want to leave anywhere from a few days to a week for this step.

Ask Your Professor for Help

Your professor doesn’t expect you to understand everything. If they do, you probably go to a school where grade deflation is rampant. Even in that case, it helps to ask questions. You don’t want to get a low grade on a major project just because you didn’t check with your professor first.

Resolve Any Personal Conflicts That Arise

In a group project, there is good conflict and bad conflict. Conflicts where people disagree on an idea are classified as C-type conflicts and are considered good conflicts. Conflicts where people insult each other and provide no constructive feedback are classified as A-type conflicts and are considered bad conflicts. You don’t want A-type conflicts. If any arise in your group, resolve them. They will eat your group from the inside-out and leave everybody involved bitter. You can’t do a group project if you don’t have a group.