How To: Survive Group Projects


I hate group projects.

Apparently, group projects are supposed to “lessen your load” and give you “teamwork experience” and help you “learn from each other”.

But when you’re dealing with other group mates, that’s not always the case. There will be someone who is completely unresponsive, doesn’t do any work, and doesn’t show up for group meetings, and still gets their name on the assignment. Next, there’s the person who tries to take charge entirely and do everything on their own, and sometimes the group will let this person do all of the work. And then there’s that one person whom you kind of feel bad for because they try to contribute, but most of their work is wrong.

Or maybe I’m just a control freak.

Regardless, there are so many different kinds of people in the world whom you might be jumbled together with to work on a group project worth a chunk of your mark. Personally, I don’t like to entrust my mark to people who aren’t going to do their part to get the project done.

This semester, I’m in a course that consists entirely of group projects. There are three assignments and a term report, all done in groups. I was upset when the prof. told us this, but I’ve sucked up my negativity and resolved to get “ish” done. Along the way, I’ve been picking up little tips on surviving group projects—especially this slew that I’m stuck in—and have decided to share them with you!

  1. Divide the assignment into parts so that everyone has something to work on.
  2. Show up to group meetings.
  3. Create mini-deadlines for the group to stay on track (i.e. have part one done by Monday, have part two done next week).
  4. Submit a sheet where you list what everyone contributed. If a member didn’t contribute, do not write their name on the list.
  5. Create a Facebook group so all members can post their parts, ask questions, and keep each other updated.
  6. Confront one another if someone is disrupting the group dynamic, like being too bossy or not involved enough.
  7. Ask questions! Ask the prof if you are unsure about something, ask the group for opinions, ask, ask, ask!
  8. Make a final deadline a day before the actual deadline for all members to finish their parts and send them to one person. This way, nobody is scrambling the night before the project is due.

This goes out to students in all disciplines. You could be reading this in the sciences, in the arts, or in business. What we need to realize is that all of us, as university students, are in the same “group project” boat: we are all group members, we have all done group projects, and we all either love them or hate them. Be conscious of what kind of group member you are and, at the very least, show up to meetings and get your part done.

Being a “team player” is a required lifelong skill. Whether we graduate and work in offices or schools, have families, or travel the world, group tasks are inevitable. Hopefully, some of my tips will carry over into the real world, too!