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Your first-year tip for October: don't dread group projects!

‘Use them as a tool to develop key skills for the future,’ says mentor and Concordia undergrad Shaumia Suntharalingam
October 20, 2017
By Shaumia Suntharalingam

Shaumia Suntharalingam (left): “When it comes to teamwork, communication is key.” Shaumia Suntharalingam (left): “When it comes to teamwork, communication is key.”

Hurray! You made it through midterm season. Now you can focus on more fun stuff… group projects! Okay, they might not be the most thrilling part of university, but they definitely don’t have to be the most dreaded, either.

In fact, group projects can invite you to look at yourself in a different light and help you develop key skills for the future, like teamwork.

So, let’s focus on acing your group projects with the following six tips:

1.    Eeny, meeny, miny … NO!

Most professors allow you to select your own teammates. If this is the case, pick wisely! Don’t just choose the three students sitting next to you or your same four friends from before university.

Come to class early and get to know your classmates. You can ask them about their strengths and weaknesses or their priorities for this term.

2.    Plan it out!

I’m all for spontaneity, but group projects aren’t the right time or place to experiment with your wild side. The first thing you should do once you form your team is create a plan including goals, a timeline and important deadlines. This will allow you to stay on track and ensure everyone is on the same page.

3.    Communication is key

Similar to any relationship, your team dynamic will rely heavily on communication. Whether you’re booking rooms, synching schedules or brainstorming ideas, find the best way to communicate everything.

The last thing you want to do is switch between Facebook, Slack, email and text messages to contact your teammates. Instead, decide on a single platform and stick to it. Check for any new messages or updates regularly to avoid missing out on important information.

And remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. So, speak up! Teamwork lets you put your heads together and listen to everyone’s perspectives in order to come up with the best possible project outcome.

4.    Don’t drop the ball

We all have other classes to study for, or even other group projects — but your team is counting on you to complete your assigned tasks. No one should have to overwork themselves to pick up your slack. Don’t forget, peer evaluations are often part of this process.

Try to be proactive. Don’t wait until the last minute and let all your school work pile up. Instead, tackle tasks at a steady pace. This will allow you the time to ask for help if you stumble on something along the way … which leads to my next tip.

5.    Asking for help reveals strength, not weakness

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re stuck. This includes seeking support from your teammates, going to see a librarian or even approaching your professor.

Though it can be daunting to ask your professors for help, it can show them that you are committed to the project and its outcomes. Just be cautious not to ask for answers, but rather guidance on how to overcome your hurdle.

You can even use this opportunity to show your interest in the course, grow your network or get advice on other matters, like your career path.

6.    Think positive, stay positive

Group projects can be exhausting, stressful and demanding. Try to focus less on the negatives and more on the positives. Group work will allow you to develop your communication, trust, leadership and organization skills — all of which will help in future endeavours.

Follow these six steps and you’ll be sure to see group projects in a different light. After all, team work makes the dream work!

Got a question? You can reach the 
Welcome Crew Mentors by phone, email or on Facebook! Find out more about Concordia’s Student Success Centre.


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