By Brittney Bodden
World Education Services
Group projects can seem like a student’s worst nightmare. Although they’re intended to build positive work ethics, prepare students for real-world challenges, and teach them to resolve problems collectively, sometimes group projects can sometimes be a hassle.
These projects can be especially daunting for international students. Being partnered with unfamiliar classmates, having conflicting schedules that make it difficult to meet up, and making sure everybody does their share are all part of the process when it comes to group projects. Fortunately, many of these problems can be avoided.
With these eight tips, group projects can be a great learning experience that as an international student you won’t forget.
- Choose your group members if possible: If given the option, you should be careful in choosing which of your classmates to team up with. Although your first instinct will probably always be to team up with your friends, that’s not always the right decision. Connecting with classmates who have skills that will benefit the project and who are committed to getting the job done is key. This project may be worth a large percentage of your grade, so every point counts.
- Communicate with team members effectively: Communication is an essential component in group projects. Once a group is established, be sure to exchange contact information. Create a contact list with group members’ names, cell phone numbers, email addresses, and availability. Creating an online document is an efficient way to make sure every member of the team receives the information and can refer to it at any time.
- Create a plan: When working in a group, each member should be assigned a specific task. Once this is decided upon, create a timeline of deadlines to ensure that everything gets completed in a timely manner. This will create organization and structure, while also keeping an eye on who is completing their work and who isn’t.
- Be open-minded: Never walk into a group project with a closed mind. When dealing with a variety of personalities, everyone has to be open to different ideas that are brought to the table. You may be a born leader, but sometimes it’s easier to let someone else take the lead instead of wasting time debating over who is taking charge and overseeing the process. Or, when a certain task is given to you, and you don’t approve, see if a group member will exchange with you. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Just do it to the best of your ability.
- Articulate clearly if there is a problem: Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have any concerns or don’t understand the task at hand. It’s important that the group has clear communication and understanding to receive the best results. If a problem can’t be solved within the group, don’t be afraid to reach out to your professor. They are there to guide you and lend a helping hand whenever it’s needed, so take advantage of it.
- Be prepared for the unexpected: When it comes to group projects, expect the unexpected. As certain tasks are divided among the group, it’s expected that some students will put forth more effort than others. Never let a slacker in the group be the reason for your project’s downfall. If one student isn’t cooperating, discuss it with the group. You may need to split up that person’s responsibilities to get the job done. While you may not like it, receiving the best grade should always be the primary focus.
- Don’t procrastinate: Never procrastinate! Students always assume they have all the time in the world to complete an assignment. But don’t forget that this isn’t your only class, and other assignments will arise. Eventually, you’ll be forced to work overtime to complete your workload. You can never begin too early; give yourself plenty of time just in case any problems come up. Once all the components of the project are complete, give your group time to proofread and rewrite if necessary. If you finish early, that’s a bonus. You get to sit back and relax knowing everything is in order.
- Stay positive: Although it can be stressful and time-consuming, group projects can be a great opportunity for you as an international student to bond with your classmates and grow from the experience. In the real world, team projects are standard at many companies. So breathe, relax, and take it one step at a time.