Working in Groups

Choosing Group Members

Sometimes in class assignments, you won't be able to choose your group, but if you have this option or are forming a group for your own purposes (e.g. study groups for exams), be careful of how you choose members. To read more about how to construct a group, choose any of the items below:

Time in Common to Meet

You'll want to have at least a two-hour chunk of time that everyone in the group can meet each week. While you'll probably not meet every week, everyone should be willing to keep this time free during the group project. If you plan to gather to write the text together, you'll need much larger chunks of time toward the end of the project.

Individual Strengths and Weaknesses

Any collaboratively written paper will include research, idea-generating, and writing abilities. For other groups, such as study groups, only idea-generating or understanding of class material may be relevant. As you ask people to join your group, have a specific reason why they would "add" to the group mix in terms of abilities. Choosing your friends is not always the best way to get a "balanced" group. For example, your friends might all be good at research but all lack writing skills.

Diversity

If you're doing a group paper or studying together, including a diversity of people might be a real asset. For example, gender diversity may or may not be relevant depending on the topic. Past course work or job experience may or may not be relevant. Prepare a list of the types of diversity that may help strengthen your paper because of the different perspectives or types of expertise people can bring to the group.

Commitment

Next to enough time to meet, this criterion is most important. Try to choose group members who have an equal investment in the project or study group as you do. It's unfair to invite someone because you think they'll do most of the work; it's equally unfair to you to invite someone you like but who will probably miss meetings or procrastinate.

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Introduction