Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in college classes is group projects. It can be even harder if you can't pick your group members and get stuck with students with varying work ethics and schedules. Unfortunately, it something that you have to deal with in college and in career. I am here to offer a few tips on getting through group projects and scoring an A!
1) Start early.
If you have 2 weeks to complete a project, chat with your group right after class and determine the times that work for all of you. Meet at your earliest convenience to pick a topic, create an outline, and divide the work.
2) Divide the work evenly.
If you are like me, you want everything to be perfect and the idea of leaving someone else alone to complete a segment of the project is terrifying. It has to be done, though. Tackling an entire project solo will put to much on your plate. If you have four people in a group, divide your outline into four sections and have each person tackle the research for that section. At that time, schedule your next meeting to start that writing. (In most my classes, presentations include a paper.)
3) Take charge when necessary.
I am sure this has to do with my type A personality, but as I have told my friend, blogger-buddy, and first choice for group project partner, Liz Murray, "I just tell people what to do." Now, that sounds a little aggressive. I do have an idea behind it. At some point during a project, you may find that the group needs direction and organization. You may need to be that person. Don't be over bearing, but be the person that reminds the group of meetings or organizes tasks at the meetings. For example, assign 2 people the task of editing the paper and have 2 people work on the presentation. You don't need to do EVERYTHING, but make sure everyone is doing something productive.
4) Do the best you can with your section.
There is only so much you can control and people are particularly hard to control. At the end of the day, if you have put your best foot forward for the group and have your section of the project at A+ quality, it will be obvious to the professor. You will be able to confidently address the class while the less motivated group members may stumble. I have found that professors are generally fair and they don't ignore what they know about vs. what they know about your group members.
So, good luck! Remember, keep calm and carry on!