The Lord designed us to be in relationship with Him and others, therefore group work seems like a great idea. However, many times group projects can be frustrating experiences. The truth is, group work or projects can be great. They provide the perfect opportunity to get to know, collaborate, and learn from your peers. Note the words, “can,” and “opportunity.” If you want to maximize your group projects and make them the best possible experiences, here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction. 

1. Communicate:

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Be sure to exchange contact information with each group member and indicate not only the best method (call, text, or email) to reach each other but when is the best time to reach each other (weekdays, weekends, or evenings). Communication will be key throughout your group project. 

2. Schedule your first meeting:

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Do not delay meeting with your group. Schedule your first meeting as soon and as early in the semester as possible. You are only going to get busier as time goes on, so try to schedule a meeting as close to receiving the assignment as you can. This ensures that everyone in the group has as much time as possible to plan and execute the assignment. 

3. Assign roles and responsibilities:

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This is where you will decide who will do what part of the work and how. You will need to review the project instructions, rubric, or expectations to make sure each requirement for the project is covered by a group member and the work is divided evenly amongst each member. Make sure everyone in your group agrees that the work is divided fairly. The how should include a collaborative Google document or Google slide show that you each have access to collaborate, add, or edit. 

4. Create a Timeline:

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After deciding who will do what part of the work and how, next decide when. Look at the deadline for your project and create a timeline for each member to complete specific tasks. For example, if you have four weeks to complete a project, set milestones (smaller portions of the project) to complete each day or week leading up to the project. Each day or week will depend on if it is a project due in a week or at the end of the semester. I highly recommend setting your deadline for your project to be completed one week prior to the deadline date. This gives you one week to make any revisions and practice presentations. Once you have dates set for each task you should complete, add them to your Google calendar with notifications to remind you of upcoming deadlines. 

5. Do your part:

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Be a person of integrity. Do the work you committed to do. Your team is relying on you to give your best. 

6. Don’t ignore conflict: 

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For many, conflict is seen as something that should be avoided at all costs. However, Ken Sande offers a different look at conflict in his book, The Peacemaker, saying that “conflict provides opportunity.” When a conflict arises, do not ignore it. Disagreements within the group need to be addressed and can provide an opportunity for you and your teammates to solve issues in a God-honoring way.

Even if your group project does not end with the outcome you had hoped for, take heart dear friend. The Bible is filled with stories of God bringing about blessings out of difficult and messy circumstances. Some of those blessings may not be seen by the time you finish the project, but be assured that God will continue to work in the lives of your team members long after you receive that final grade. The work you do in community with others, though messy at times, is being used by God for his good purposes.