5 Simple Tips for Improving Group Projects

By Rachael Brothers

In this article, Dr. Li-Shih Huang Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics in BC, Canada discusses the challenges that surround group work. Specifically, when students do not work together equally within the group. This imbalance in the group workload can lead to aggravation and resistance to the project from students, and a poor outcome overall.

To combat this challenge, Huang presents five tips that focus on a different aspect of group work to both improve group dynamics and produce positive results.

1) Instruct students to work in phases.

When you have a group project designed with multiple phases, you can require students to continuously check in, resulting in time to advise and mediate if needed. This also causes students to balance their workload over the time allotted for the project, versus waiting until the deadline to start working on the project.

2) Allow some aspects within the project for students to insert their own creativity.

When you allow students to be creative with the topic and content, it generates a higher level of creativity and engagement within the project.

3) Include a reflection writing component.

Including an informal reflection essay, can encourage students to engage in critical thinking reflect on the good (and the bad) of the project. The goal is to motivate students to reflect beyond simple recall and summary, and to convey a deeper understanding of the project.

4) Designate time in class, before the projects begins for groups to get to know each other and establish group dynamics.

Allotting time for students to get to know each other will benefit the group dynamics by: allowing students to establish rules, responsibilities, work strategies, and get a feel for each team member's communication style.

5) Encourage students to be creative problem solvers.

When you prepare students to expect changes, problems, and unexpected events to change their group dynamics, you can encourage them to solve problems as a group and strengthen their group as a whole.

In any group situation, problems may still arise that need instructor intervention and mediation. The goal with these tips is to encourage strong group dynamics and to create a mutually beneficial group learning environment that will produce positive results.

To learn more, please go to the article "Students Riding on Coattails during Group Work? Five Simple Ideas to Try" in the September 29th, 2014 edition of Faculty Focus

Sources:

Huang, PhD, L. (2014, September 29). Students Riding on Coattails during Group Work? Five Simple Ideas to Try. Retrieved October 2, 2014, from www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/students-riding-coattails-group-work-five-simple-ideas-try/

Contributors:

Thanks to: Douglas Hoffman University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, Master Teacher Initiative Coordinator, Professor of Marketing- College of Business at Colorado State University for sending along this teaching tip.