Published on March 5, 2014
GROUP PROJECTS EVERYONE HATES THEM… Navigating the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. By Christine Spitler Miami University 3rd year RA
ABOUT ME: My name is Christine Spitler. I am a Senior at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Interactive Media Studies. I have been an RA (Resident Assistant for the past 3 years at Miami). I gave this presentation to some of my residents at a program, which I later turned into a Bulletin Board. Hopefully my experience with group projects through 4 years of college…can help you conquer any and all group projects that come your way! Me, Today
GROUP PROJECTS ARE A BIG PART OF COLLEGE. THEY CAN BE CHALLENGING, FRUSTRATING, STRESSFUL, AND OFTEN QUITE OVERWHELMING.
THE BEST WAY TO AVOID THESE NEGATIVE FEELINGS IS TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR GROUP PROJECTS. THIS PRESENTATION WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH SOME TOOLS AND TRICKS ON HOW TO SURVIVE A GROUP PROJECT AND COME OUT SUCCESSFUL!
WHY DO YOU HATE GROUP PROJECTS?
The frustrations of group projects can be summed up like this:
PROBLEMS • You just met these people; you don’t know them at all. • It’s really hard to schedule a meeting time. • Group members who don’t participate. • • ―Oh, I don’t know…‖ • ―Whatever you think...‖ Group members who are close-minded/ argumentative. • • ―Ehh… I don’t like that idea.‖ • ―Yeah, I don’t think so.‖ (The combo) Group members who shoot down your ideas, and never present their own. • Group members who don’t do their work • Group members who turn in their work at the last minute. • Group members who turn in terrible work. • You are left with all the tasks to complete on your own.
SO YOU’RE ASSIGNED A GROUP…
FIRST STEPS: • Exchange e-mails and #’s • Someone take responsibility for e-mailing out all the info to everyone. (because someone will lose the slip of paper they wrote down e-mail addresses and #s on) • Arranging your first meeting time • Doodle 2 awesome online scheduling tools • WhenIsGood
THE FIRST MEETING • Problems: • You don’t know them (your group members). • You don’t know what they are good at. • You don’t trust them. • Solutions: • Learn a bit about what everyone is good at. • Listen to what makes them interested.
THE FIRST MEETING CONT’D: Review the project. Clarify what your task is. What deliverables are there? When are they due? Divide & Conquer Problems: (People often have no concept of when things are due) (People wait till the last minute to complete their portion) Solutions: Make a Time-line Set (Soft) Deadlines Set Clear Expectations: • Are tasks due at the start of a meeting? Or are we working on them AT the next meeting? • Active participation…encourage any ideas/open brainstorming.
COMMUNICATING WITH THE GROUP…
COMMUNICATION • E-mails • Group Texts (for last minute communication) • Google Docs Make sure they are editable! TIP: Suggest group members slash through someone else’s text they wish to delete before actually deleting. Here is an example. TIP: Occasionally download a copy of the current version, in case of accidental deletion. • Google Hangouts (can view Google docs while on Google Hangout) • (Refer to Picture on Next Slide) • Talk with Teacher USE their ―office hours‖… (as a group…if that doesn’t work, send one person!)
GOOGLE DOCS/GOOGLE+ HANGOUT
COMPLETING A GROUP PAPER…
TACKLING A GROUP PAPER Distribute logical sections of the paper. Have 1 person designated as the editor and assembler. Step 1: Edit, Edit, Edit! Step 2: Smooth the paper together. Either add transitions and alter the tone of writing to read as one voice, OR add section headers/titles. Sending the draft out to the group for feedback. DO NOT say ―it looks fine‖ Offer actual feedback! Make sure you know WHEN the paper must be turned in, and MAKE SURE the individual responsible for turning it in, does so! Ask that person to CC the rest of the group if the turn-in is done via e-mailing the professor.
THE FINAL PRESENTATION…
THE PREZI VS. THE POWERPOINT Use Prezi if… Otherwise… • This presentation is for an artistic/creative course. • You don’t have a lot of text in your presentation slide. • You are REALLY good at it. • Use PowerPoint TIP: Sick of the same boring backgrounds? Download FREE themes/ templates from Microsoft. (http://office.microsoft.com/templates)
WHO IS GOING TO SPEAK/PRESENT? NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO PRESENT. Unless your teacher specifically suggested YOU ALL present, 1 or 2 people is usually best. NO NOTECARDS. Again, NO NOTECARDS. (unless you teacher says so!) Unsure who is talking about which slide? – Use a little icon or colored slide number in corner of screen as a discreet clue for your own use. All members can participate in Q&A at end of presentation. Do NOT cut off other members or dove-tail on their answer to a question. • This devalues their answer. • This makes you look rude. • This makes the group look disjointed.
WRAPPING UP A GROUP PROJECT Shared expenses: Who paid to print the deck (PowerPoint)? Who printed the final paper? Who printed the final presentation? Even if they printed it at home…ask how much they spent, then offer to contribute a fair share. Give HONEST feedback on peer reviews. If you had a particularly OUTSTANDING member, TELL them—via email or in person. This will only help encourage them in the future to continue their hard work.
OTHER TOOLS • Online Project Management Tools • i.e.- Trello, Basecamp, etc.
CLOSING THOUGHTS • Group projects are a challenge… but they are inevitable. • You will be doing a lot of group work in college…and even more in “the real world” at your job. • Don’t let bad group project experiences in the past affect your attitude or outlook on group projects in the future. It’s not fair to your new group, and it will only make you bitter. • Don’t “write off” group members. They may not be your MVP, but don’t confuse their lack-luster performance as intent to sabotage your project. NO ONE wants to purposely fail. Everyone on your group wants the same thing– a good grade! Figure out what they can bring to the table and encourage their participation. • Being the leader DOES NOT mean “do it all”. A good leader effectively delegates work and keeps members accountable and efficient, leading by example. • There is a big difference between a “group” and a “team”– discovering the difference between them is the key to a good group project experience.
QUESTIONS? OTHER IDEAS?
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