Working in Groups

WHY work in groups?

  • Groupwork is a hallmark of academic and professional life: the coming years will entail working in lab groups, professional partnerships and teams, and entire departments. Every group assignment is an opportunity to learn how to navigate interests and personalities toward a common successful product.

WHEN to meet:

  • Doodle is helpful when aligning schedules between people. Be sure everyone is on the same page about when, how long, and how often meetings will occur.

Group Logistics: Get on the same page with expectations

Have a talk about ground rules. Here are some common values to consider:

  • Accountability: do not enable anyone else to let their assignment slide; if they do, do not let this go just to avoid conflict. Be sure each person follows through on his/her assignment in a timely manner.
  • Communicationwhen in doubt, reach out to someone else for an opinion or confirmation of details. Keep the appropriate parties in the loop on your tasks.
  • Cooperation: privilege the goal of success, rather than ego aggrandizement, above all. Be positive, fun, and appreciative of others. Offer solutions to problems. Disagree with civility, and not hostility.
  • Inclusivityeveryone should be included in decision-making, and aware of all decisions made.
  • Respectpractice common courtesy: be on time, and have assignments finished when agreed upon. Do not talk while others are talking; wait your turn. 

Determine roles 

These can rotate, but should include:

  • Moderator: this person will help guide discussion during group meetings, keep conversations on task, and move the process forward generally. The moderator should be prepared with an agenda for each meeting.
  • Scribe and coordinator: this person will take notes during group meetings, and circulate to all team members.
  • Delegate fairly and appropriately: be sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute, and that assignments are distributed equitably.

See Structuring Project Work for advice on group assignments themselves and Organizing Study Groups for additional tips.