Some Tips for Working in Groups
HA Program, Auburn U. Mark
In the several years I have used small group techniques of instruction,
many students have made suggestions to me regarding how to improve
the work of such student groups. Here are some of the key points they
have stressed concerning how to mount a successful team effort and
how, as an individual, to relate to the work of a group.
- Trite as it may seem, one of the most important points of basic
behavior in a group is common courtesy. Don't be afraid to speak up,
but be sure to allow your fellow students time to speak. If someone
expresses what you feel is a "stupid" opinion, try to criticize
it constructively rather than putting down the person.
- Cooperation is also a key factor in teamwork. Don't hesitate to
try to improve the work of your group by making suggestions, but don't
needlessly obstruct for the sake of obstruction.
- Keep me informed about what your group is doing. If you want advice
later, I can probably advise you better if I have some idea what you
were doing in the first place.
- Groups are multi-purpose. Not only can you use them for doing the
required team projects, but also you can use them for such purposes
as joint study, note-taking for absent members and even recreation.
- Successful team efforts are most often achieved by thorough coordination.
Organize you work as a group, and as individuals, as carefully as
- If you set deadlines for completing work, set them before
you really need the work and try your best to achieve them anyway.
If you succeed, you've got your work done early and have extra time
to use for other purposes. If you don't make the deadline, you still
have a little time left to finish.
- Choose your moderator with care. Pick someone because he/she will
best help your group get the job done, not just because he/she is
your friend or roommate.
- Group members should never expect the moderator to do all the work
of the group, or even the majority of it; nor should the moderator
deliberately monopolize group work. Rather, the moderator should coordinate
the individual efforts of group members to produce a coherent project.
- The moderator should be careful to insure that each member understands
what he/she is to do on a project. Don't just assume "everyone
understands." Often, "everyone" does not.
- The moderator should not ignore group members who seem to be having
difficulty completing their assigned task. Rather, he/she should assign
other group members to assist them or should directly assist them.
- The moderator should consult me if serious problems appear to be
jeopardizing the work of the group.
- The evaluation process should be used constructively and critically.
It is not the time for personal or ideological grievances to take
over; nor is it the time to favor those you like. Imagine how you
would feel if another student evaluated you based on such features.
- At any time during the course, students may consult me to determine
their evaluation averages. I will not discuss how any individual evaluated
another or what evaluation a fellow student received.
Gripes, Fears, Tears, etc.
- If you, as an individual, fear serious problems are occurring in
your group for you or for the group as a whole, talk with your moderator
first. If he/she cannot or will not solve the problem, either try
to persuade the moderator to see me or see me yourself.
- If you do decide to see me, do so as soon as possible. Waiting
to complain about problems in your group until after the course is
over, or even mostly completed, is not appropriate.
A Final Note
Remember, what happens in your group is often similar to what occurs
in a real civic, administrative, or political group. Problems such
as coordination, division of work, leadership, disagreement, voting,
dissent and even evaluation all have their counterparts in events
which you will encounter life in your life. How you handle these issues
now will give you ideas for constructive participation in the "real
Know other information that should be included here? Send your suggestions!
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