Working in Groups

My group members aren't as smart as I am

Fact or Fiction? Fiction

This is a dangerous attitude to bring into a group situation. If you honestly believe it's true, you should probably not choose group work if it's optional. If you don't have a choice, then consider the fact that other people might be thinking the same of you. To read about how your group can avoid this, choose any of the items below:

Discuss Member's Strengths and Weaknesses

At the first meeting, have each group member do a personal inventory covering a wide range of issues relevant to the work you'll do together. Remember that while one person may be good at ideas/course content, someone else may have strengths as a critical reader, researcher, or writer. Some questions might include: what do you know about our topic already? What experiences do you have that might be relevant? What have you done the best on in other parts of the course? What have you been complimented on about your writing in the past from teachers or peers? What kind of reader of other people's papers are you?

Practice Listening

It's too easy to judge someone based on personal assumptions. Assign someone each meeting to take careful notes on everything said, not just what that person thinks is relevant. Many good ideas are lost because we judge the person rather than what he/she says.

Encourage a Collaborative Attitude

Think of your group members, and encourage them to think of you, as yet another source of knowledge just as you might a teacher, a book, or any other source you consult for a paper. Sometimes you can learn the most from someone you think is "wrong" because they can provide a perspective you've ignored.

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Introduction