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Group work

Starting your group project

You may be required to work in groups as part of your course. Groupwork is fundamental to many graduate jobs so it’s good to be able to work on these skills at university.

The people that make up your group will often work in different ways and at a different pace, and these pages aim to help you to think about strategies to make your group work well.

You can find some useful books about working in groups in the Skills Collection. Success in Groupwork is a particularly good book to read on this topic.

This content has been adapted from Learn Higher’s Groupwork guidance.

Forming a group

Your group might be formed randomly, or by a tutor. Group members may or may not already know one another, and some of you may have more experience of group work than others. All of these factors will influence how quickly and effectively your group settles into working together.

Positive first meetings

The first time that your group meets can have a big impact on the overall success of your group.

Make sure that you meet in a suitable space. There are group study spaces in every library to support group study work. Both the Laidlaw Library and the Edward Boyle Library have bookable group study rooms and booths all equipped with AirMedia, allowing you to wirelessly connect up to 4 devices onto one screen. This means that you can easily view what each person is working on so that you can discuss and progress as a group.

There are several things that you could focus on in your first meeting, depending on how much time you have. Here are some suggestions for important topics to discuss:

Ground rules:

think about how often you will meet, how the group will communicate between meetings, how decisions will be documented, and interpersonal issues such as making sure that everyone has a role and treating one another professionally.

Understanding the task:

discuss the task that you have been set, read the guidelines carefully, and break it down together. This will help your group to understand what tasks need to be completed to achieve a successful outcome. Some groups fall into criticising the task, but this won’t help you to make progress.

Allocating work:

once you have discussed the task generally, the group will need to create an action plan to ensure that all of the individual jobs that make up the larger task are completed on time, and in the right order. Don’t forget that you should share the workload as equally as possible, and take account of the preferences and skills of all group members. The group might decide to divide the work between smaller sub-groups, or to individuals, so be prepared to be flexible and collaborate with others.