Groups & Tutes
An important aspect of your university studies is the opportunity to work as part of a group.
Group work is used at university because it can be an effective and powerful way to learn, and is also highly relevant to the workplace. Despite this, students can find this experience challenging, and even negative at times.
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that slow down our progress when working in groups.
Other students never pull their weight and I end up doing all the work
Many students fear that other group members will not do their share of work which will result in them having to do more. This is a big contributor to students feeling anxious and stressed when it comes to working in groups. Whilst we may feel justified in having these feelings they are doing little to constructively help reduce our anxiety.
Working in a group with other students will drop my grade
Students are often worried about working in groups as they believe others will lower their grades. This can be the case if students have high expectations of themselves and project these expectations on to other group members. This is further challenging as assumptions of another's work is often based on one's own perceptions and not necessarily held by others.
It’s really difficult to schedule meetings outside of class because I have other commitments
Often students have many competing demands outside of their study which make it very difficult for groups to organise convenient times to meet. Learning to juggle competing demands and to manage our time effectively is very important for successful group work.
Below are three things you can do to boost success.
Be clear on task allocation
Setting clear expectations at the beginning of the task about who will do what and by when is a useful and helpful strategy in group work. Breaking things down into smaller, achievable tasks that are allocated among the group members is an effective tool for managing expectations of each other in regards to work loads and task completion.
Have a conversation about what you expect from others and what you will contribute
Student’s expectations of others can make working in a group challenging. It can be easier if you discuss as a group what aspects you are interested in and what you are good at. Working to your strengths can assist groups to function better, and can improve engagement and results.
Focus on what you can do
By focusing on what your task is and getting your work done, you are less likely to think and worry about what others are doing. If you do have concerns about others, consider talking to your group members or your supervisor for additional support.