The Dreaded Group Project - How to Succeed?

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    Many school programs involve group projects. This assignment can strike fear in the hearts of many students. Here are some ways to get through this...

    The Dreaded Group Project - How to Succeed?

    ...so first day of class, you are looking thru the syllabus at the assignments and see way down the line is the "deadline for the group assignment." What??!!! You don't like group assignments, you don't want YOUR grade to depend on OTHERs. So...whats a student to do? Well here are some ways I've found to work thru this.

    I have been a nurse for 25 years, coming up thru the ranks as an LPN (brick and mortar school in Las Vegas, NV), ADN (brick and mortar school in Indianapolis), BSN and MSN (online), and two post-MSN certificates (hybrid programs - both in-class and online material.)

    This is what has worked for me:

    1. First, cross your fingers, you get to choose your group members. if possible, scope out your classmates. Who gets good grades? Who do you look to when you have questions? Who seems to have the same studying style as you?

    2. If the instructor randomly chooses your partners, well....you can still come out of it with an A.

    3. Get all the info you can possibly get about the assignment - due date, content expected, how it is to be presented (online to the group in real time, posting to a whiteboard, in-person). Get contact info for all members - a phone number or email works well. Put this in a spreadsheet so that everyone has this info.

    4. Have a preliminary meeting with all members of the group. If this is an online class, have a group site that you all go to to post. In some courses I've taken over the years, many times we were in different time zones and countries. So - having a common site you use is imperative. Google hangouts or FB messenger has worked well for me.

    5. Choose a leader - I always liked that the leader was the one who put the project all together, checked APA format and turned it in. Decide who is going to do what. Will someone need to come up with the intro (including any stats needed)? What about the main points of the project?

    6. When is this going to be accomplished? Are you going to have multiple meetings or will the leader assign a date that all needs to be turned in to him/her? Having a "touch base" meeting or some type of communication midway thru the projects helps to keep everyone on track as well as to ensure progress is being made.

    7. Be clear about your expectations: the individual parts need to be ready to go: proofread for spelling, grammar and APA format.

    8. The leader should assign a time (preferably at least a week in advance of the due date) to have all parts of the project turned in. It is then the leaders task to put it all together and get it back to the group for a final proofreading.

    Now....what to do if there are problems?

    1. Someone in the group is not participating. This is probably the number one issue in group projects. In this case, the first step is to find out the reason behind the delay. It is very important that the leader touch base with everyone throughout the assignment. You don't want to wait until there is only one week left and oh...oh a part is missing. I had one instance where one of our members had an emergency and went missing - no way to contact her, no idea what was going on. I contacted the instructor immediately to alert her and found out that the student was going to have to drop the class. As the leader of that particular project, it was then my job to scramble and get her part done. Glad I didn't wait till the last minute.

    2. A group member has turned in their part and its not up to par. Tactfully, let them know the changes that need to be made and if possible provide them with an example of what is needed.

    There are positives to group projects. Some of the positives I've learned over the years:

    1. Group projects in school often mirror group projects in real life. You need to keep everyone informed of the progress being made and remain polite and tactful.

    2. Being in a group allows you to grow as a member of a team - many different people coming together for one purpose.

    3. Even when working through problems in a group project, you develop better coping and negotiation skills.

    So...what has been your experience with group projects?
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