How to make group work work well! - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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How to make group work work well!

25 Aug 2021

Hey! My name is Kristy and I am a final year Bachelor of Midwifery student who studies at both the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Coast campuses. I can relate when people say that group work is a really challenging aspect of university study!

From my first semester, I was thrown into the deep end with two group work assignments. Developing skills to approach group work became a huge priority! I had two very different group experiences in that first semester – one which was dynamic, exciting and enjoyable, and the other which was stressful, exhausting and frustrating. This gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what worked well and particularly on how to prevent what went wrong from happening again!

So, here are my hot tips for group work: 

1. Know yourself

I think this is the most important part! You need to know your personality type, the way that you like to approach tasks, your communication style and your availability to work on the task.  

2. Pick groups carefully when given the option

When you have a group work task approaching and you can form your own groups – do this with careful consideration. Things to look out for are people that approach assignments the same way that you do, people that have the same grade goal as you and communicate in your preferred style.

Sometimes you won’t get to choose your group and that’s a great opportunity to build positive teamwork skills.

3. Communicate early and clearly

This is a key element. The first thing that you need to communicate is the information that you discovered in the first dot point! When introducing yourself to the group, whether they are complete strangers or peers you’ve worked with before, be clear about how you work best and what you wish to achieve. Everyone needs to be on the same page about the goal! 

4. Have a plan!!!

Make sure that everyone understands the task and the rubric. Work together from the very beginning of the group forming to ensure that you are all on the same page about what the task is asking and what is expected.

Analyse the task and rubric together before anyone goes off to start their work. Know who is responsible for what tasks, understand the timeframes that you expect work to be completed in, plan how often you will meet up and how that will be (in real life, via zoom, through email, etc).  

5. Utilise the skills of your team

By communicating with each other your strengths and weaknesses you can make sure that you are getting the best of your team. Lean in to each person’s skills and let everyone shine. Make sure you support others who may find certain elements difficult. Remember, you are all in this together!

6. Use the Academic Skills resources available

There is a great section in Blackboard on presentations and group work, that has great study strategies! You can also talk with Learning Advisors at Drop-in sessions or book in to see them via Student Hub – this can be particularly helpful if everyone isn’t on the same page.

7. Have fun with it

This is a great opportunity to collaborate and have a bit of fun. You will only get out of group work what you put into it. Some of my favourite university experiences have been group work and I hope that you get to experience this. The photo featured in this article is from my favourite group assignment, we had so much fun and managed to get 100% at the end! 

Throughout my degree, there have been many times that group work has been required in my courses. I have even gone out of my way to participate in extracurricular ‘group work’ through my involvement in my many roles in the Students as Partners program and as president of the Midwifery Society of USC and Active Minds Fraser Coast. As a future health care professional, the skills that I have developed from group work will be used every day.

Good luck everyone!

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