Large white board displaying Group Project in empty class room.

Top tips for group projects

It’s disappointing enough when you let yourself down trying to complete a bit of coursework. It feels like you’ve been betrayed by your past self. “Why did I procrastinate and put this off! I knew I’d end up having to do an all-nighter to get it done!”

But that pales in comparison to how it feels when someone else is the reason your coursework isn’t ready on time.

Group projects. Two words that strike more horror into a student’s heart than any other. Maybe only narrowly beating ‘early mornings’.

You have to arrange to meet up and actually do work at a normal time, not at 2 in the morning when there isn’t anything left to watch on YouTube. You’ll have to split up the work and chase people up when they haven’t done anything. Nightmare.

All in all, it’s not how you’d prefer to work. But if you follow these tips, you will have a shot at a completed assignment with as little drama as possible.

1. Choose a good group

Sometimes this is taken out of your hands if you’re put into groups by the tutor or you miss the lecture where people choose groups. But if you get a good group the battle is half won. Don’t go straight for your friends if you know they are an hour late everywhere they go. Don’t go for the funny guy who’s always cracking jokes in lectures and showing you memes in seminars. Try and stick with reliable people!

2. Write down everyone’s timetable

No one wants to spend the first week of a project trying to sort out a time you can all meet. Get together and exchange timetables right at the start so you know when you can get together. Speaking of…

3. Regular group meetings

It can be really tempting to split up the work, go your own ways and not talk to each other until a week before the deadline. Do not do this. Someone will end up doing the wrong thing, or two of you will have done the same bit of the project. The different sections won’t be as easy to put together as you’d hoped, or something will get overlooked. Get together regularly and talk over what you’re going to do, what you’ve done and what needs doing. And while you’re at it…

4. Write things down

“No, you definitely said you’d do it.”
“No, I thought Sophie said she would…”
“So no one’s done it?”

Need I say anymore? If it’s not written down, someone will forget and no one will have any record of who was supposed to do it. Make sure everything is noted, ideally with time frames, so at least when it doesn’t get done you’ll know who to blame remind in future.

5. Allow lots of time for putting it all together

It always takes more time than you think it will. Whether it’s a presentation, a group essay or a report. Allow an extra week to get it all together if you can and be prepared to rework bits where necessary. And once you have, it’s done! You’re free!