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How does Group Study Help?


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A small number of individuals in society are self-employed, but most of us have a job where we work in cooperation with others. And given that even the self-employed don’t live in a vacuum we soon understand that all of us need to be able to work in groups. This is part of the reason why education spends at least some time on group projects.

But group projects can go either way, either encouraging a group effort, or dividing into dominant leaders, useful subordinates, and lazy coasters. This can make things difficult for a student who wants to do well, often being dragged back by their peers.

Group projects are different in the workplace. A company will make use of a manager, an accountant, some creative ideas people and a computer programmer to produce a new account, combining people with different skills, A school project, however, may end up with several students who have a similar education background, often in the same class. There is some combination of different skills here, but the range is limited. Often the individuals could do the project on their own. This eliminates part of the reason for working in a group.

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How do we make the best of a group project?:

Allow extra time.
There is always one person who turns up late for group projects, and we have all done that once of twice ourselves. Have extra time to absorb this lost time.

At the very least have everything done b one member proofread by another member of the team. All decent academics have their published works peer reviewed. At the very least this forces people to make a contribution. And it forces them to write their piece ahead of time, by the proofreading deadline rather than the due date.

Trust the Teacher
An enthusiastic student worries that the less enthusiastic/ less capable student in the group will drag their mark down. But understand that the teacher can almost always spot the lazy contributor, and give individuals credit when due.

Adapt the Task to the group
Are there some different ways to approach the question, or more than one project question to choose from? Find one that works for the group.

Delegation and division
Does one individual have good presentation skills, another good graphic design skills, another a better knowledge of the material? Is there an individual who can make PowerPoint presentations, and a musician to supply background/introductory music. Use these different skills.

Active listening
This may seem a little redundant, but it can be very helpful for accumulating information. One person states information, and another rephrases it. Look for any misunderstanding, any omissions, made by the other party. If several people rephrase the idea we often find a better way to word the information.

Find eadership that delegates and uses everybody’s abilities, not a leader who does all the work or forces their own ideas.

Use Skype for meetings, and social media to communicate ideas.

Overestimating effort
It is easy to think you are doing more than your allotment, in a group of 4 people everybody claims that they did half the work.

Emotional Intelligence
Understanding your teammates is vital, and knowing what they (and you) can and cannot do is paramount. Organise according to your understanding of others, and change as you progress through the project.

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At least part of any project will include the write up. This is often the make or break area when it comes to grades. Write in a way that communicates clearly, and have the solid facts and well-developed ideas needed for a good project.

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Group projects are applicable to real work employment situations. Learn to work with others, and learn from what other can contribute.

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