Polytechnic guide: 15 tips to score in your Group Project
Group projects are what every polytechnic student will go through. Some may love it, others hate it. But no polytechnic student will be able to avoid this.
As an important component of your GPA, we wrote this article to share 15 tips on how you can work effectively with your group mates to ace them!
If you’re a freshie, we strongly recommend reading these 20 tips on the Do’s and Don’ts in Polytechnic before you read this article.
First and foremost, you should understand the objective and purpose of your group project work. Some general guiding questions to yourself could be ‘What are the things I have to cover in the final report?’ and ‘what is the point of the report?’.
Discuss this with your group and ensure that everyone comes to a common understanding.
2.) Read the rubrics
This is one of the most important things to do before you start any group project work.
Some students tend to rush into their work without reading these materials. Even though they could have worked really hard on them, they don’t end up achieving their desired grades due to certain misconceptions. Hence, you should always examine these materials before working on anything.
Knowing how you’ll be evaluated should give you an idea of how you should plan for your work.
By doing so, you will understand the level of expectations for specific grading criteria. Furthermore, you should constantly refer to these documents while working on the group project, so that the work done is aligned with the expected criteria of your desired grades.
3.) Consult your teacher
If you have any questions regarding the rubrics and assessments, you should always clarify with your lecturer.
Once a polytechnic student myself, I’ve experienced unclear materials provided by the subject teacher.
It is your responsibility to take charge of your work and clear your doubts by seeking clarification.
4.) Understand who’s marking the work
Do make an effort to understand who is marking your group project.
Although projects have a standard grading rubric, each teacher has different levels of expectations to some extent. As a result, you’ll find that some are relatively strict and others lenient.
When you have an understanding of the marker’s expectations, you would have a rough idea of the kind of work to produce in order to meet their standards and score that A grade.
5.) Set Smart Goals
In the first week of your group project, you should spend it by discussing with your group mates the appropriate goals to achieve.
An appropriate goal is SMART. An acronym that stands for:
Ensure task is specific and clear. Remove any ambiguity.
Quantify your goal to let you know that you’ve made it.
Is the goal challenging and realistic?
Is the task aligned with your values? Is completing this task worth your time?
How long should you take to complete this task? Set a deadline!
Here’s an example of setting a smart goal. Imagine you are given 2 tutorials to do as homework.
A smart goal can be expressed simply as this: Complete the 2 tutorials given today by tomorrow.
By mentioning the tutorials, I made my goal specific. Quantifying the tutorials made the goal measurable. I have a habit of completing tutorials in a day so the goal is definitely attainable. Furthermore, the tutorial is relevant because it’s part of the curriculum and lastly, I had set a deadline for them.
One method to plan and keep track of Smart goals is by using a Gantt Chart!
Sourced from Clickup
A Gantt Chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates the progress of a project schedule.
This will be exceptionally helpful in keeping everyone on track of the project progress.
You can use our favourite project management tool, Clickup, to help achieve this.
Clickup is a highly intuitive, all-in-one tool that’s free to use with your groupmates.
Not only does it allow you to create Gantt charts, but it also includes different views such as the Kanban system, Calendar and timeline.
If you’re interested in other apps that will help to supercharge your student life, you can view them here!
6.) Delegate appropriate responsibilities
In any group work, someone has to be in charge to facilitate actions. Next, appropriate roles should be delegated, based on relevant strengths.
Everyone should share the tasks they find most comfortable working on to maximise their effectiveness and productivity.
Upon the agreement of delegated responsibilities, do not fault others for not taking up as many responsibilities as you. This will only hinder your personal relationships with them.
Additionally, for those who are used to ‘tanking’ projects, you are unnecessarily doing yourself harm by working longer than the rest.
This will cause you to burn out fast as you lose hours finishing up something that could be delegated.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
7.) Participate in group project discussions
Discussions are what make up most of the progress in project work.
Project work involves collaborative learning. If you are not going to contribute to or be present in the discussion, you might as well not be part of the group.
It is only through the participation of every individual that productivity can be optimized and work can be improved.
Please don’t be afraid to share. If you’re scared that others may find your ideas stupid, do note that most people don’t view them that way. In fact, they would appreciate your participation.
Always remember, providing your input is better than not.
8.) Help one another
While working with others, we should always help one another. Only by doing so, can we all improve. And this is exactly the point of project work too.
Most group projects are graded as a group and even if you put in the hard work alone, it doesn’t guarantee your grade.
Everyone will have different capabilities and it’s important to be aware of that.
A few examples of helping could be as simple as offering feedback or asking if they have any difficulties you could help them with.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
9.) Seek constant clarification
This is one of the most important things that you should do while working in a group.
When tasks have been delegated, it is still necessary to constantly communicate with each other to clarify work ahead of the deadline.
If you don’t, it may lead to a misunderstanding or dispute in an upcoming discussion. Even if your teammates don’t seek clarification, it is recommended to initiate a conversation to check in with them first.
For instance, you can conduct a weekly routine check on their progress. Use that opportunity to ask questions and clarify any uncertainties. By putting in a short amount of time every week to do this, you prevent any major mistakes from occurring.
10.) Be honest with your capabilities
Some of us are going to be occupied with CCA or personal commitments. So you have to be honest about your availability, and your capabilities right from the start.
That way, everyone can set reasonable expectations with one another and no one can demand more of you.
If you’re caught up with your CCA, you may want to give it a break and work on your project first. Neglecting your project work to engage in your activities will be deemed selfish to your group mates. Consequently, this will strain your relationships with them.
11.) Don’t over promise
Adding on from tip number 10, please do not over promise.
In my experience, I’ve met plenty who have done this, which will only slow down the project’s progress unnecessarily.
By promising something, do note that you are also setting people’s expectations. And when you don’t meet their expectations, this could affect trust severely and leave others with a negative impression of you.
Subsequently, don’t be surprised if no one would want to group with you for group work in the future.
12.) Brush up on your language
Many people feel that coming up with good content is better than having good usage of language. However, that is not always the case. That honestly depends on the marker.
No matter how good your content may be, if it is not conveyed appropriately, the marker may not fully understand it the way you expected it to be interpreted.
If you happen to use Google Docs to work on your reports, you should get the Grammarly extension on Chrome to help you with your writing!
Grammarly is free (Upgradable to premium) and you are guaranteed to write better. In fact, Grammarly is only one of the few apps we highly recommend to students. Check out the other apps that will supercharge your student life here!
13.) Be open-minded
This is also one of the most important things to note when you are working in a group.
We should always have an open mindset when we work with different people. And that is exactly what group work is meant for, to give you the necessary experience from collaborating and working with others.
Never dismiss people’s ideas and make sure to engage in healthy discussions. Sometimes, we may think we have the best ideas but we can’t be self-conceited.
An open-minded person is more concerned about what is right than about being right.
Be open and listen to what others have to say with and who knows, you may end up changing your views instead.
14.) Appreciate your groupmates
It is rarely the case that everyone can contribute equally. There will always be the ones who do a little more and a little less.
It is really important to show that you appreciate the ones who put more work into the project. Otherwise, they could feel that they are being taken advantage of.
You can show your appreciation to your group mates in many ways.
Some simple examples could include telling them that you acknowledge their work, asking them if they need help, buying them meals, or drinks like bubble tea.
15.) Be empathetic
We ought to be empathetic while working with others.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
This can go far in inspiring and bonding with your groupmates
For instance, it’s important to understand that everyone is faced with different circumstances. If they do not meet your expectations, you shouldn’t be quick to judge them as you can’t be sure.
Instead, approach and communicate with them. Understand if there’s anything hindering them and try your best to help with the workload where you can.
In other words, put yourself in their shoes before making judgments.
Another example of being empathetic is with work styles, everyone has different ways of doing their work. Just because you disagree with it doesn’t make it wrong. Instead, seek to understand how they work and utilize it.
Be a team player. If you’re the team leader, your job becomes even more important because you have to make sure the team works together.
There will be challenges that you face but these experiences will help you improve certain skills such as social, planning, and even conflict resolution.
We can only improve ourselves when we’re out of our comfort zones. Hence, we should view group work experiences positively and learn from our mistakes.