Group work can be one of the scariest parts at university… believe me I know! The idea of working with a group of people that you don’t really know can be very overwhelming, especially when the grade will contribute to your overall grade. Remember, everyone in your group will be feeling the same way. So all you need to do is follow a few simple steps to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with university group work.
Understand the brief
The first thing you need to do before doing anything else is understand the brief that has been set out for you. This is probably one of the only things you can do in group work by yourself. When attempting to understand the brief try, to apply yourself to where you could be most beneficial to the group. By identifying where you think your strengths can benefit this project you can then go into your first group meeting having removed the stress of not understanding the brief. It also means that you don’t waste any time in group meetings.
In your first meeting make sure this is the main focus and everyone in the groups knows the outcome that you can wanting the achieve.
Set up a group chat
Setting a group chat is critical to dealing with stress and anxiety in group work. Group chats will be your main form of communication during the project and will offer you better speed and access to your peers as opposed to emails. During the later stages of the work where you may require to get a quick response from people in your group, your best chance at getting this is by using a group chat. Group chats are also really important because they can hold people accountable if they aren’t performing. Overall group chats can help you deal with stress and anxiety because it removes the time delays in responses and avoid people hiding when they are needed.
Occasionally there will be that one person in your group who is not responding or turning up to meetings. The best thing you can do in this case is to let your tutor know so that it does not directly impact your grade. You may have to show them the group chat to show that you did include this person.
Pick a team leader
A lot of stress and anxiety that comes with university group work can come from the worry of how decisions are going to be made. Having a team leader can remove all of this stress. They can be used as the deciding vote when a decision is tied and they can be held responsible for the organisation and distribution of work. It has been that case that the position of team leader falls onto the person who speaks the most. If this is you then give it your best shot!
As team leader, make sure everyone knows the brief and what the outcome needs to be, then let each person know what their role is.
Split the jobs up
A key part of group work is splitting up the job roles so that everyone has a similar amount of work. You should split the work on your strengths. Quite often stress is caused from knowing that other people aren’t going to pull their weight, therefore it is very wise to split work on the strengths of each other.
As team leader, let people suggest the parts they would like to do. Then make sure everyone has equal amounts of work and is happy with it.
Chose whose saying what
A lot of stress can come from the fear of other people saying the wrong thing but also overthinking what you are going to say. Therefore, it can be very beneficial to get an exact plan of what people are going to say. This stems further than just knowing what each other are going to say. You must acknowledge the exact way that you are going to show someone that you have finished and it is now their turn to speak and vice versa.
Chose who is introducing the presentation or who is introducing the report, etc.
Practice (if a presentation)
The saying is true, practice makes perfect. If you practice and get your presentation absolutely nailed, you will go into it feeling a lot more confident and everyone know that the more confident you are in yourself, the more adept you are to stress and anxiety. It also installs more confidence into others. Therefore, practice, practice, practice.
The bare minimum you should be doing is having a run through before the real presentation. This way you can smooth out any wrong bits.
Read over (if a report)
If you stress over the final grade, make sure you are reading over your report to make sure everyone’s style of writing blends in with each others. You could even get someone like your friend or your mum to read over it for you to get a different perspective. Another cause of stress in groupwork can be the chance if silly errors and knowing that someone else could make a silly error. Therefore, the more you read over your work to reduce that, the less chance there is of silly errors happening.
Learning how to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with university group work is an important factor that will come up during your time at university. Stress can never be completely removed, but preparing in the ways I have stated above can hugely help reduce it. In addition to this, group work always has to be taken with a pinch of salt when it is being assessed in a university setting. You will always get opportunity to express your discontent should someone has not pulled their weight, as well as this if you have put more effort in than others, this will shine through to your assessor. So just do your best and do what you can.