There’s one week left in Summer I term, so it’s crunch time for term project. In my class, each student has two large group projects with accompanying presentations. In working on the projects for my group and in watching other groups, I’ve been struck by how hard it can be for people to work together, even in grad school, when we all presumably have many years of group work behind us. Here are a few tips I’ve found to make groups work smoothly:
1. Plan on doing more than your “fair share.”
Even if you do the exact same amount of work as everyone else, it always feels like you did more, because you’re more aware of all the effort that went into your personal contribution. If you plan on doing more than your part from the beginning, you’ll have a better attitude about the project, and you may be pleasantly surprised when your team members unexpectedly come through. Besides, the more work you do, the more control you have over the finished product – an excellent benefit for a control freak. (Kurt: Now you know why I did so much early work on the Hamlet DTD! ;) )
2. Don’t divide a project into perfectly equal parts.
Some projects or parts of projects are harder to do in a group than as individuals; writing a paper as a group often takes several times longer than it would take any one member individually. Often, making slightly unequal assignments makes for less work overall. (E.g.: split the paper into smaller sections, assign them to individual group members, then put one person in charge of compiling everything.)
3. It helps if the group is well-formed.
4. There can be only one.
Many projects will benefit from having one person in charge of tying up loose ends. Whether it be the last edit and proofreading of a paper or the compilation of a PowerPoint presentation, the end result will be more consistent if the finishing touches are the responsibility of just one person.
One presentation down, one presentation and one paper to go.