By Felipe Fisher
Group assessment is a common occurrence in many university courses. This form of assessment can be daunting, especially in earlier years when your not acquainted with your peers. In early years forming your group usually consists of a quick meet and greet followed by choosing your members based on your first impression. Because of this the group composition is coincidental which can have varying results. This unknown is often unavoidable when your beginning your course. However, as you progress through your degree and meet your peers it will become easier to form groups and effectively perform during projects. Communication during group formation is key to avoid many of these problems, however should they arise here’s some advice that will help you complete the project.
Understanding the Assignment
To ensure you understand your assessment task, there are three key sources of information you should consult:
- What does the task sheet say?
- What does the CRA say?
- What does your tutor/lecturer advise?
Knowing what your assessment is asking of you is critical, however it is doubly so in group assessment as you may choose to ‘overlook’ parts of the assessment that your teammates are doing. The task sheet and the CRA will be critical in this as they not only give you your task but the standards expected of you to complete them. Understanding the task and standards of your criteria allows you to optimise your workflow of what is most important in the project and the order of operations it needs to be completed. This allows for vital time to be saved and for you to analyse what really needs to be in the project and what can be cut out.
Next, you have your Lecturer/Tutor to rely on because in the end they’re the ones marking your assessment. Don’t discount them as a resource! Many will offer consultation and if you show an attempt at completing the task they’ll be happy to help. Often should the question be asked enough the lecturer/tutor will post an FAQ for the project giving everyone access to more information.
Crisis Can Strike Suddenly
There are many excuses and apologies that will be said through the project and they can crop up at any time. The seriousness of the disruptions caused by excuses and apologies vary depending on the scale and time from of the project. While an issue in the beginning may not be that disruptive, having problems in the final week of the project can bring the group apart. It’s important to listen to your teammates and be flexible enough to make arrangements or switch parts to ensure that the project continues at an acceptable rate. If the information is not observed the project may stall at a critical point leaving the group unable to proceed at the planned speed. This is why a backup plan should be available to the group in case of these potential incidents.
What’s Your Backup Plan?
In the ‘unlikely’ event that part of the group is unable to contribute sufficiently towards the project what will you do? While this question may not matter for some projects for others this can cause a systematic collapse. An example of this being in an research report where the analysis is needed before a discussion or recommendation can be proposed. How do you tackle this situation where the fault of one can carry on to others?
This is where a plan is necessary, for without a comprehensive plan the project won’t be completed. An effective plan should analyse what the person(s) was responsible for and how to redistribute the responsibility to other members of the group. The group should then negotiate with the person(s) about how they are going to participate in the project to keep the workload relative to group size. If the individual refuses then the group must then explore possible consequences such as contacting unit staff in how to punish them. In doing so the group will be able to complete the project within the time frame to an ‘acceptable’ standard.
You’ve got yourself through the rollercoaster of completing the assignment! Now’s the time for your final task sheet checks to make sure you’re submitting everything you need in the correct format. After this step, there’s only one button left to press.