While most people cannot stand group projects, these assignments can offer the best education in teamwork. You learn about how to deal with loaners, slackers, dominant personalities, natural leaders and followers. You can also learn what happens when a team falls apart or when it comes together to work as a strong unit. These are lessons that are hard to learn anywhere else because, in other areas of life, your team is often comprised of people you know very well. In a college group project, you may be working with people you don’t know at all, which is more similar to what you will experience in a work setting. In addition, you will pick up a range of teamwork skills from working in a group.
Skill: Group Dynamics
When you are working on a group project, one thing you will immediately notice is how people relate to each other and how those relationships shape your group. This article goes over the specifics of group dynamics that you’ll want to note. You can begin to understand how each person’s personality affects the abilities of the group and the ability to get things accomplished. This will also allow you to study leaderships and how a leader emerges. Finally, you’ll study the life cycle of the group and the communication issues that the group may struggle with through each phase.
As you work within your group, you will learn a lot about compromise. Chances are you’ll be involved in negotiations as everyone tries to get things done their way. You’ll find out how to reach decisions that work for everyone and allow everyone’s views to be honored, or you’ll see what happens when some group members are ignored and steamrolled by others. You may also develop skills that allow you to be a mediator and help the group to come to a general consensus, or you will see another person take on this role.
Your group work will likely involve research. While you may do some research on your own, it still all has to be organized by the group. You’ll be exposed to others research methods, which could help you to become a better researcher. In addition, you’ll learn how to bring large amounts of research together into a comprehensive final project. This can help you to develop an understanding of the importance of each team member, too.
Skill: Unconventional Situations
In school and in your chosen career, you may come across situations where you have to work in a group with people who aren’t at your physical location. This is much different than working with a group in person and requires different skills. GW offers some nice advice on how to work in an online setting that can come in handy if your group is working completely in cyberspace.
Group projects may be something you dislike, but if you look at the valuable lessons they can teach you, you will walk away a much stronger student and person because of them. Use these projects as a learning experience to help you become more familiar with the skills you’ll need to be a team player once you are working in your chosen career.
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