The most dreaded part of uni, group assignments with teammates from hell.
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Here are my tips:
Create your dream team
Find a group of students that you work well with and try to take the same subjects and attend the same tutorials (specially ones with big assignments) so that your group is ready to go when the time comes.
Forming a new group
Question potential group mates about their grade expectations, availability and consider the distance they live from uni and how many hours do they work a week. “Uhmmm, I’m just looking for Pass mate” – no thank you, I was always aiming for the highest grade I could get, teaming up with somebody expecting a P makes no sense. P students generally do not have time and do not wish to put in the effort. Finding teammates that share your goals (whether it’s a P or HD) and level of commitment is the most important.
If you’re stuck in a group with under-performing group mates, put on your leader hat. It will require more effort from you but for these type of students, someone has to provide that structure. Breakdown the tasks into manageable micro-tasks, set small deliverables to be sent to the group leader with team deadlines. Worst outcome is to get the lecturer to kick them out the groups since it would be fair for all the other teammates to carry them.
Even if all the group mates cannot physically make it to a team meeting. There are plenty of free online collaboration tools such as Google Apps which allow multi-user editing of documents that includes chat, comments and Google Hangouts (video-calling, screen sharing, etc) while viewing the document. Start a private Facebook group for group members so that they cannot escape lol.
Don’t group up with friends
Unless you have worked with them in the past, just like not going into business with family, group work with friends is a big no-no unless you’re alright with falling out.
At the end of the day, even if everything goes to shit, at least you would have gained the experience of how to deal with shitty group mates, what works and what doesn’t.
These experiences might come in handy for classic Graduate Program questions such as:
Tell me a time where you had to deal with a person that did not share you opinion or a time when you had to work with a demotivated teammate.