Communication, compromise is key in group projects, prepare for the working world

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May 02, 2017

Hanna Harvey

hharvey@uccs.edu

     Some work industries are just group projects in action.

     Working at a newspaper is the perfect example of this. By working together everyday to put out a newspaper, journalists can communicate and integrate creative differences into a final product well.

     This is what seems to be missing from most group projects in college: communication.

     This semester, a huge chunk of my grades in my classes were based on group work.

     I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing students who understand the importance of communicating and compromising creative differences to make a great piece of work, one that not only impresses our professor, but that we’re proud of too.

     Unfortunately, not all of my group work experiences have been like this in my two years at UCCS.

     Students who are required to work in groups for their classes need to be better at communicating, collaborating and creating as a team.

     Regardless of your major, you can’t avoid these projects.

     Before switching to English, I had to write two group lab reports for my biology classes as a biochemistry major.

     And the group work won’t go away after college; like your major, you’ll probably work in groups at various points in your career, if not everyday.

     In a column by Maria Pickl, a master’s student at the University of Michigan, Pickl discussed how she’s worked with every type of person each semester that she’s been in college.

     “I have worked with a micromanager. A slacker. A person who just doesn’t get it. They’re out there, and you will inevitably have to work for or with someone who exhibits these characteristics,” she said.

     And she’s right.

     While you can’t get along with everyone that you work with, you can at least try to communicate and compromise.

     Your final project will be better this way, and no one will get slammed during the ever-dreadful peer evaluations.

     While most of us dread the thought of a group project in our classes, we need to think about the long-term benefits of working together.

     According to Carnegie Mellon University, who cite a 2006 study conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement, positive group experiences make for better learning, retention and collegiate success.

     The benefits include time management, breaking tasks down into steps, giving feedback, sharing diverse perspectives and pooling knowledge, among others.

     For instructors, according to CMU, groups of students can work on more complex problems that they couldn’t as individuals.

     Isn’t applying what we learn in the classroom in a real-world setting much better than busy work from the textbook?

     The benefits are far-reaching, but these benefits don’t happen unless we communicate. We can only get to know what each others’ differences are by talking about it first. Then, finding the right solution will come.

     You’ll work with different types of people throughout your college career, and you’ll work with the same type of people once again throughout your career after you graduate.

     If you’re working in a bad group this semester, try taking on a leadership role. Reframe your perspective; sometimes your original idea might be not the best for everyone. But that’s when you combine your ideas together to make the best assignment possible.

     The semester is drawing to a close, so communicate now with your group, and go get that A.

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