Group projects are an inevitable part of college, especially in the Professional Writing program at Cedarville. But don’t let this scare you! Like many others, I prefer to complete assignments by myself rather than with a group. However, my time as a professional writing student has shown me the beauty and importance of working with others. My senior year of college is coming to an end, and I am thankful that PWID pushed me to work in settings outside of my comfort zone. Here are five tips for navigating group projects:
1. Plan ahead.
Planning is the most important step your group can take towards success. Don’t put off initial meetings or wait to create a schedule for your group. Setting specific deadlines for different parts of the project will keep your group on track and make the project seem less overwhelming. When planning ahead, make sure to consider each member’s availability and include everyone in meetings.
2. Delegate tasks.
After planning what needs to get done, your group should decide who is in charge of each part of the project. Doing this step allows your group to limit the number of meetings where everyone has to be together. Be selective with how you use group time to avoid meetings that last three hours. (Trust me, they’re not fun.)
Assign tasks based on members’ skills and divide the work evenly to keep things fair. Just because one person is the best writer doesn’t mean they should be stuck doing all of the writing for a project.
3. Stay organized.
Before you begin any work, your group should first decide how you will communicate throughout the project. Whether through text, GroupMe, or email, create a main line of communication for your group to ensure everyone is included in updates and can access information whenever they need.
Then, choose how you will organize documents. Most of my groups use Google Drive to create and store documents because it allows multiple users to edit the same file at once. Another small but important tip is to label your documents accurately and delete files that aren’t up-to-date to avoid confusion.
4. Communicate with the professor.
Your professors want you and your group to succeed, so go to them with questions and seek clarification when necessary. Both Dr. Carrington and Professor Wingerter are great at providing feedback quickly and clearly explaining their expectations. If your group unfortunately runs into conflict that can’t be solved internally, reach out to your professor to see if they can smooth out any issues.
5. Learn from others.
Group projects are a great time to improve your writing, editing, and design skills. In previous group projects, I was able to learn specific software skills by watching others and asking questions. Maybe someone in your group will be great with Adobe software and can show you how to use it. Or maybe another member will be a stronger editor than you and can provide some tips. Take advantage of this time to learn from others and develop deeper connections with your classmates.
As professional writing majors, we must be prepared to collaborate with designers, editors, and subject matter experts of all personalities and skill sets. If you are like me and your reaction to group work isn’t immediately a happy one, try to view them as an opportunity to learn, grow, and serve others. A positive attitude makes all the difference.
About the author
Laura Bannister is a 2020 graduate from the Professional Writing Program.