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Study Skills: Group Work

This guide offers learning strategies, study skills, and resources to support student academic success.

Group Work


Many careers, especially in STEM fields, require collaborative work. Group projects mimic real-world scenarios, providing practical experience in teamwork, project management, and collaborative problem-solving. Group work, however, can be challenging and cause feelings of discomfort for learners.  Varied commitment levels, diverse expectations, differing work styles, accountability, leadership issues, and communication barriers must be overcome to successfully execute group projects. This LibGuide offers a number of practical strategies to help you and you group navigate the requirements, and pitfalls, of collaborative assignments. 

Why Group Work?

  • Enhances learning and understanding
  • Develops essential communication skills
  • Prepares for employment expectations
  • Reinforces critical thinking and problem solving
  • Supports managing time efficiently
  • Introduces new perspectives

Components of Group Work

Success in group assignments requires effective communication, planning, patience, mutual respect and trust.  Here are the essential components to work collaboratively with others toward a common goal. 

Goals and Roles

Goals: Establishing clear, shared goals helps ensure all group members understand the project's purpose and their role in achieving it.   As a group, review the project guidelines and requirements to ensure everyone understands expectations.  Define the main objectives of the project, including the desired outcomes and the criteria for success.

Roles: Have each group member share their strengths, skills, and interests to assist in the assignment of roles that best suits everyone's capabilities. Work together to assign specific roles and responsibilities to each group member, ensuring everyone knows what is expected. Leveraging the diverse skills and strengths of group members can enhance the quality of the project.

Project Plan

Timeline: List the major milestones and deadlines for the project. Include intermediate deadlines for drafts, meetings, and reviews. Break down the project into smaller, manageable tasks and assign these tasks to each group member.

Quality: Discuss the quality standards for the project deliverables, including formatting, content depth, and citation requirements. Decide on how and when the group will review and provide feedback on each other’s work to maintain quality.

Group Norms

Communication: Select the tools and platforms (e.g., email, messaging apps, project management software) you will use for communication. Establish a regular meeting schedule that works for everyone to discuss progress and address any issues.

Project charter: Create a plan for managing conflicts and disagreements.  Decisions should be made collaboratively, with input from all group members. This ensures buy-in and a sense of ownership over the project's outcomes. A good idea to help prevent issues is to build a project charter.  This document should outline the project’s goals, roles, responsibilities, timelines, and communication plans. 

Document decisions: Write down (and share) decisions, action items, and updates during meetings to keep everyone informed and accountable.

View the Working in Groups video below (created by Chapman Learning Commons) for specific ideas on how to accomplish the above. 

Working in Groups

BCIT Tutors Talk: Group Work