Working in Groups

We won't be able to agree

Fact or Fiction? Both

Group work is messy; you will disagree often. The best groups don't silence disagreement because it's usually in arguing that you can challenge each other to think more about the topic. However, groups that only disagree are no more functional than those that agree to everything. The key is balancing the two. To read more about how to handle disagreements, choose any of the items below:

Assign a Monitor/Mediator

For every meeting, ask someone to keep careful track of the differing opinions and reasons for them. At a certain point in the meeting (or for the next meeting), the mediator's job is to present all the views and try to reach a consensus which includes parts of them. To do this, the mediator must stay out of the arguments for that meeting only.

Decide Whether You Have to Agree

This won't work in every instance, but sometimes you might decide to include the disagreement in the paper itself. Presenting why two different sides of an issue are equally supportable can sometime strengthen the paper, rather than weaken it, depending on the purpose of the paper.

Make Discussion Rules

While arguing about ideas is good, personal attacks are not. Early on, decide as a group what is acceptable behavior toward each other and follow the rule: call someone on it when they go too far.

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Introduction