Three tips for working in groups more effectively

Higher professional education and working in groups are inextricably connected. You must work together at least once during every block. This is because you will also have to work together a lot later in the professional field.

Throughout your entire academic career, you will find yourself in groups in which not everything runs smoothly. You will always have people who have something else to do, slackers and those ‘I’ll do it myself because that’s the only way to ensure it’s done right’ types. In other words, there is always room for improvement when it comes to working in groups. Below, you will find a few useful tips for getting the best out of your group.

#1 Make agreements
Nothing is more annoying than getting into a disagreement with fellow group members halfway through the project. It is vitally important that you draw up a contract immediately at the outset of the project to avoid any surprises. Every group has a slacker, and having a contract gives you the power to simply kick them out of your group. Make sure that you have good communication with your supervisor, too. When things go wrong in a group, the members sometimes have the inclination to carry on as if everything were fine. However, a supervisor will act decisively in such cases and remove the slacker from the group.

#2 Know everyone’s strengths
The person who is the best writer is not necessarily the best group leader. Just because someone is good at research does not automatically make them the best writer. Groups often have a certain structure with different tasks. Do not just do whatever; instead, recognise your own strengths and those of your fellow group members and divide up the tasks accordingly.

#3 Get the most out of working in groups
At the higher professional level, working in groups often looks the same. Everyone does their part and everything is subsequently cobbled together. According to educational psychologist Ard Lazonder, this is not the right way to work in groups, because no one learns anything from it. Lazonder says that you learn a lot from working together by collectively thinking about the ultimate goal. This way, you work together more consciously, which helps you to better understand the material!

Ferdinand Velthuis is a student, blogger and fourth-year International Business major at Hanze UAS. As a Hanze veteran, he gives new students useful tips to help them get through their first years a little easier. How do you work in groups most effectively? How do you manage your money wisely? How do you properly prepare for a work placement? His blog, Man-Inside, includes lifestyle, food and opinion pieces. If you would like to get in touch with him, send an email to ferdinand@man-inside.nl