How not to get stuck doing the group assignment all by yourself

How not to get stuck doing group work all by yourself - students arguing in a library over a computer

We’ve all been there. Lazy classmates, slackers, or people who just don’t care what grade they get. Even if you’re stuck with the laziest of uncaring slackers in a group assignment, there are ways to prevent or minimise the dreaded lone-wolf group work. Here’s how:

1. Ask yourself, why is this happening?

If you constantly feel like you’re the only one doing all the work, stop and ask yourself; Why? Maybe you’re a high achiever and slacking off is foreign to you. Maybe you’re something of a control freak? Take a deep breath – this is the first test of a group assignment: working to create a great project when the group may be mismatched in skills.

How to fix it:

– If you like being in charge, assign the tasks out to each person’s skills. Maybe the laziest person is great at code, or technical things but their talents are hidden behind shabby presentation. Assign them with tech, and assign someone else with proofing and formatting.

– Don’t volunteer to take on too much. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one contributing if you’ve put yourself in that position. Don’t let your past experiences in group work make you panic about this one.

– Choose your group mates if you can. It could save you a lot of stress.


2. Use collaborative tools to your advantage.

There are so many amazing tech tools built to optimise group work. The day your assignment is given, grab any and all contact details you might need; email, phone number, Facebook, Instagram. Okay, maybe not Instagram unless you want to check up on their stories to make sure they’re doing work.

How to fix it:

– Get everyone to complete their part of the assignment on Google docs. This way, you can all see how much everyone has really done. Having an open forum might be a good kick up the butt for people to start doing their work, knowing that you can see exactly how much they’ve done.

– Skip the in-person group meetings. Have a skype session or Facebook group chat at a specific time instead. From the comfort of their couch, your group mates should be less likely to bail.

– Tools like Asana, Meistertask and Basecamp were made for collaborative working, sharing files, and tracking tasks.


3. Inspire motivation.

If the promise of a great grade doesn’t strike motivation into the hearts of your peers, try speaking their language a little. There’s bound to be some reward hidden within the unappealing gem of group work.

How to fix it:

– To the person that would rather party: Say, “If we get this done by Friday, we’ll be able to relax and enjoy the weekend.”

– To the person that makes a mountain out of a molehill: Say, “It looks like completing Task A is the key. Once that’s done it’s an easy ride to the finish line.”

– To the underachiever: “If we do great work on this assignment, it’ll up our grade average so we won’t even have to try the rest of the year!” (Note, this is a lie. You should still be trying the rest of the year.)


How do you approach the dreaded group work?

-Eliza Brockwell

GIFs via Giphy

Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.


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