Writing an assignment is a stressful process, writing a group assignment can add a number of additional issues that only amplify this stress. This is why the thought of group assignments often leaves most law students with a feeling of complete and utter dread. While group assignments may not be the preferred method of assessment for many students, they actually are an important exercise aimed at developing key teamwork skills. Regardless of the career avenue you decide to go down all employers will expect great teamwork skills. Group assignments are vital exercises that allow students to hone these skills.
There are a number of simple tips that you can implement to ensure your group assignment runs as smoothly as possible.
Select your group members carefully
Not all students are given this opportunity as some lecturers prefer to preselect groups, however if you are given the opportunity then select carefully. Ideally the perfect group would consist of a number of students that all share the same work ethic, produce work that roughly achieves the same grade and can easily get along with one another. This is difficult to achieve however you should aim to choose group members that meet this criterion as closely as possible.
Make it clear what your expectations are from the start
It is important that you make your expectations clear regarding work ethic and the grade that you are ultimately aiming to achieve. Every law student works differently, some students take an organised, gradual approach to assignment writing while others prefer to start it the night before submission. When tackling group work, it is important that everyone is on the same page therefore work styles may have to be adapted. It is best to take an organised approach that leaves plenty of time before submission to deal with any issues that may have been identified within the finished draft.
Start by working through the assignment together and creating a plan
While you all may work on sections of the assignment individually, you will all achieve the same mark, therefore all group members must be happy with how each section of the assignment is answered. It is helpful for all group members to meet, go through and discuss the assignment before work begins. These meeting will allow the group to compile an answer plan that can be followed by all group members. Key cases, sections of legislation, journals and textbooks should be included within the plan. Creating and sticking to a detailed plan will ensure that a cohesive assignment is created that all members are happy with.
Create a timetable for group meetings and finished drafts
As group assignments can give rise to a number of issues, you may want to meet frequently with your group to ensure everyone is on track. Creating an agreed timetable for these meetings and for the completion of drafts will create organisation and structure which will lead to the process running more smoothly.
Deal with conflicts within the group, try not to involve a member of staff
Disagreements may arise, and they should be dealt with within the group. Teamwork is essential in the workplace and there will be instances where conflicts occur, however you will be expected to remain professional and deal with these issues. The same applies to your group assignment. Involving a lecturer in petty arguments between the group will look unprofessional and highlight poor teamwork. You should try to work through these issues and keep the ultimate goal in mind. A lecturer should only be involved in the event that a group member has failed to interact with the group or produce the work expected.
Leave enough time before submission to deal with unexpected problems
It is wise to leave yourself enough time before submission to deal with any problems that may arise, at least a few days. These problems may not be drastic but rather issues such as referencing or the assignment not flowing cohesively once pieced together. Leaving enough time to deal with these issues, proof read and add finishing touches, will have a positive effect on your final grade and ensure that you submit a group piece that all members can be happy with.