How to Manage and Succeed in a Group Assignment

If you think distance learning means no more group projects, you’re wrong. Working as a group is just as common in online classes as it is in traditional classroom environments. It’s an important skill to learn since you’ll likely collaborate with others once you begin your career. Furthermore, group work has been shown to be effective in helping retain more information and it helps students have a better grasp of the material being presented.

As often happens with group work however, assignments aren’t always completed by the entire group. Some students do more than their share of the work to ensure the highest grade possible. Some students don’t care when others do more work, either. But when the group doesn’t contribute equally, problems can arise.
Here’s how to avoid these problems next time you’re required to participate in a group project.

Every group needs a leader

The leader should participate equally in completing the assigned work, plus be responsible for keeping the project on track. The leader can schedule and remind others of meeting times, determine the best method of group communication, record meeting notes and important decisions, and assign deliverables and deadlines.

Incorporate technology

Technology is part of the overall distance learning experience, so take maximum advantage of technology to coordinate and complete group assignments. Use instant messaging, chat rooms, video conferencing forums, and email to keep in touch, communicate ideas, share completed work and more. Think of other ways technology can help the process, like using the MS-Word Track Changes feature when editing as a group.

Assign tasks

Before getting started the group assignment should be divided into tasks for which each group member will be responsible. Let each member decide the part that interests him/her and best suits his/her capabilities. During the course of completing the work, take time to review each other’s progress and make any changes needed to keep the assignment on track.

Don’t procrastinate

It’s easy to procrastinate, but it’s definitely not advisable. Adhering to the deliverables and deadlines decided upon in advance allows time to deal with unforeseen issues and make changes to the game plan. And it keeps stress levels low.

Know how to handle group projects

Inevitably one group member will do more work or less work than originally decided. Unfortunately that also happens out in the real world. If you did more work than you should have, the best way to handle this situation is maturely. Track who did (or didn’t do) what and when and relay this information to the instructor in a polite, professional manner. Complete the assignment as best you can, learn from it, and feel good knowing you earned your grade.