Most university courses incorporate teamwork projects as part of their students’ learning process. Teamwork projects have dual aims: (1) for a team of students to complete a piece of work that could not be done in the time by an individual working alone, and (2) for individual students to learn and practise the skills of working with others in an organised cooperative process that is essential for many tasks in business and research. Here are 5 tips for working in a group and making sure your team is effective:
- Get acquainted. Take some time to get to know each other. At your first meeting, introduce yourselves, talk about the task, have coffee together, and discuss your feelings about teamwork and the project you are working on. Make sure that everyone has a list of names, contact phone numbers, and appropriate contact times for every member of the team.
- Allocate roles. Allocate roles to different group members at your first or second meeting. At the very least you will need a chairperson to direct your meetings and a note-taker who will record decisions made and tasks to be done along with their deadlines. Other roles may include: a progress-chaser, an investigator and an evaluator.
- Organise your time. Organise your time right from the beginning. Have regular structured meetings, set deadlines for stages of your project and set up a timetable for the whole project.
- Problems with working in teams. You will probably encounter a number of problems working on any team project. A common problem and suggested solution is outlined here. Problem: individuals may not do their assigned part of the work. Solution: you must be prepared to confront the individual and have firm rules in place (e.g. have a written statement of each person’s tasks and check on individuals’ progress at each meeting).
- Making a team presentation. Sit down as a team, review the material and plan what to say and how to say it. Decide who will speak. You can divide up the presentation among the group members, or, if one of your members is a talented speaker, ask him or her to carry the main responsibility.
This extract is taken from the Communication Skills Guidebook. This book is designed to equip students with the essential communications skills they need to succeed at university, including: essay writing, researching, referencing your work, public speaking and exam techniques. It is easy to navigate, with lots of tips and examples, and will be students’ trusted resource throughout their entire degree.
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