Wednesday’s Parent: 7 ways to get the best out of group projects

Group projects. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Group projects. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

There’s a reason students are asked to work in groups. It helps develop the soft skills of collaboration, cooperation and communication that colleges and employers want. The trouble is students give up a lot too such as the clock and control.

It’s hard enough to manage busy schedules of family members but group projects must consider the available time of others. Substituting others’ choices over one’s own is never easy.

I remember how devastated my daughter was when a particular group project left at a classmate’s house was altered without her knowledge. There were other times when certain members didn’t pull their own weight in contributions, personalities clashed more than they agreed or got along so well focus was lost to fun. All of these impacted the enjoyment, quality and length of time it took to complete the project.

Going to school is a student’s job so It helps to treat a group project like a business assignment. Here are seven ways to to prepare and get the best out of group projects:

  1. Consider the logistics of when, where, and how long the meeting(s) will be. Pad the time frame to allow for chatting, mistakes and a Plan B.
  2. Exchange contact information. No one should be left out of the loop during the group project.
  3. Decide on what materials are needed and who takes responsibility for bringing and paying for what.
  4. Brainstorm together giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion. A timer can be used to keep track of time.
  5. Put personal feelings aside and concentrate on good ideas that will make the project better. Everyone benefits from this.
  6. Make a plan to ensure everyone is on the same page and work is equally distributed. Each member should understand the project goals, the steps involved to achieve it and who does what, when.
  7. Having trouble? Ask the teacher for help but don’t wait until the due date. Give her plenty of time to make suggestions and the group to deal with changes.

Group projects foster both teamwork and individual leadership abilities. The college-bound can use the opportunity to practice their soft skills. Check out how parents can help.

Read Suzanne’s post: The Dreaded Group Projects 


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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