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The 10-week term at Drexel means that we have to be extra aware of time as we move through each term. With only 10 weeks to learn materials, organize ourselves in our teams, and deliver our group projects, we have to make sure that everyone in our team understands when each stage of the project must be complete.

During your first group meeting, discuss what a deadlines means to you and what it means to everyone else.

For example, let's take the group project of Chris, Meg, and Joanna. They have set a deadline for Thursday at 10am for each of their sections of their rough draft to be delivered.

Chris sees Thursday at 10am as the moment that he must deliver the rough draft, and there's no reason to deliver it sooner. Meg sees the deadline of Thursday at 10am as the last possible moment that she can deliver her section, but she will probably deliver it sooner than that. And Joanna sees Thursday at 10am as a target date, but it's OK if it's a day later.

Thursday at 10am. Meg delivered her section on Tuesday at noon and has spent the last couple of days worried that her teammates won't finish their sections. Chris submitted his section at 9:58am. And Joanna is still at the library working on her part and expects that she'll have it done by around 6pm tonight.

Totally stressful, right?

To make sure that this doesn't happen to you, you've got to make sure that you've discussed the details of deadlines. This group may have discussed that Thursday at 10am means that it really is the latest that the sections can be in. Meg is welcome to submit her section prior to the deadline, but it's not within the bounds of good teamwork for Joanna to completely miss the deadline. Once the team has worked this out together, they'll have less to worry about when it comes to working together.

Continued from: Things to do for a successful group project (part 1)

Remember that your work is important. Be committed to your assigned tasks.

  • Your work is important to not only yourself but also to other team members. Your quality of work will impact the entire group.
  • Ask yourself: What else do I need to learn to make sure I am not missing anything for my assignment? How do I get more information about it?
  • Continue consulting with appropriate librarians and relevant library resources available from Library's website.
  • Compile work or at least make sure that it gets properly compiled. Especially in the final report, make sure that there is harmony from one section to the next.  Make sure that it is no longer a "rough" draft.
  • Check to make sure that assignments were indeed turned in. If someone else is working on the website or turning in a progress report, make sure that it is gets submitted on time.

Have fun with your project

  • Being friendly and having a good laugh every once in a while will have a rejuvenating effect on everyone.
  • It is good to always stay serious and focused, but that does not mean that you cannot enjoy each other's company and keep each other light-hearted.
Everyone is different. Find unity in diversity
  • Understand that it is to your advantage if everyone is different. People are not always going to act in the exact manner that you would, but that indeed strengthens a group.
  • Working with a diverse group with varied expertise  for Engineering Design project is more fun than with a group of clones.
  • Everyone has their own style and approach, and it is through those that your final product will turn out well polished.
  • Everyone  brings an inspecting eye that looked from a different vantage point.

Note: Jacob Clouse and the members of his  freshman engineering design team provided useful suggestions and analysis of why their group project was successful.   Some of their recommendations are included above.

You have a big group project due at the end of the term  It's probably a paper AND presentation.  You need to set goals, assign tasks and determine deadlines. (Check out other blog postings on these ideas) Most important---getting together.   Getting together does not always mean face to face.  If it is just too hard to meet face to face, get together virtually, a chat room, Google docs, or other means.  Some of the best ideas come from group discussion and the contributions of everyone. 

Put your best work forward as a group!

Before you start with your group project, it is important to for you and your team members to  complete some tasks necessary for the completion of your group project.

Think about your project. Plan what you want to accomplish. Accordingly, set up your goals and objectives.

  • Divide up your project into series of small tasks
  • Assign tasks among different team members
  • Set deadline to complete these tasks
  • Schedule meetings in person
  • Monitor progress
  • Take responsibility for completion of each task

Identify subject areas in which you need to develop background needed to complete the task.

  • Assess your own strengths.  Select your assignments based on your strengths.
  • Identify faculty experts in that area. Talk to them.
  • Find out who your librarians are covering those subject areas. Consult with them to seek their guidance on how conduct research to help you find information needed.

Communicate with your project Adviser

  • Regularly meet with your project adviser
  • Keep him or her uptodate with your project status
  • Seek help if needed

Communicate with each other

  • Coordinate with each other with various responsibilities
  • Identify your particular skill strength (drafting, revising, website construction, scheduling deadlines, annotating graphs, creating presentations)
  • Distribute work among yourselves according to skill strength

Things to do for a successful group project (part 2) continued in the next post.

Note: Jacob Clouse and the members of his  freshman engineering design team provided useful suggestions and analysis of why their group project was successful.   Some of their recommendations are included above.

You're in a biology lab and you're told to choose lab partners.  You don't know anyone.  How do you go about choosing?  Ask questions.  What is important to you?  A great grade at the end of the term?    Are you serious about learning the lab at hand?  Then you want to find those folks who want the same thing.  Remember you're going to be with these guys all term long, with a major project due at the end of the term.  You want to be on the TEAM that is a success at the end of the term.


You've got got you group and your first biology lab assignment and a worksheet.  You're following directions and completing the worksheet.  Discuss, discuss, discuss!  Don't let one person do the work and everyone else copies.  If the first person gets it wrong, you all get it wrong.  At every response--discuss it.  Get consensus.  You not only learn the purpose of the lab, but you get it RIGHT!

Taking minutes sounds like something that the secretary on MadMen would do.

But recording what happens in your meetings will help your group keep track of progress and minutes will help remind everyone what was decided in the meeting including the scope of the project, next tasks, and who does what, and when.

The reason for taking minutes is to make sure that everyone has the same understanding as to what happened during the meeting and what decisions were made. Also, it'll also help you keep a record in case one of your group members doesn't follow through with the tasks.

It's not difficult. Your team will need to appoint someone to take notes during the meeting, and to send them out after the meeting. You can use your agenda to help organize your notes.

Here's what minutes from your group meeting might look like:

September 31st
Group meeting for class
In attendance: Joel, Jeremy, Gina, and George
Missing: No one

1. Review scope of project
We came prepared to discuss the project as laid out in the syllabus. We listed the tasks we think need to be accomplished in order to meet our goal of getting at A on this project. We compiled a list of each of our strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to this project.

2. Create timeline
We have four weeks to complete both the 10-page paper and the 20 minute presentation. Since they both cover the same material, we'll work on both pieces together.
- Oct. 14th: meet again to go over the case questions and answer questions as a group. We'll all need to read the case and make notes on the case before this date.
- Oct. 24th: There are six questions, so Joel, Gina, and George will write up the answers to two questions each no later than Oct. 24. Jeremy will compile Joel, Gina, and George's work and edit them into a cohesive paper.
- Oct. 26th: Jeremy will submit the edited version to everyone else.
- Nov. 2: We'll all meet again to create outline for the powerpoint.
- Nov. 5: Gina and George will create powerpoint slides (Since they're good with graphic design)
- Nov. 8: Jeremy will submit the paper and George will submit the powerpoint deck. We also will need to set a meeting time for practicing our presentation.
- Nov. 9: Give the presentation!

3. Next steps
As per our timeline, everyone needs to read over the case and study the questions. We'll meet again on October 14th at 2pm in the Library Learning Terrace to create the outline for our paper. Come prepared with notes and your own thoughts on the answers to the case questions.


Your group is finally meeting! Are you excited? You should be excited.

First, your whole group should be commended for finding a time when everyone is available. Good job, people. The hardest part is done, but you still need to do a little more preparation for your meeting.

Because it's so complicated to get everyone together, it's super important that you work out the agenda for your meeting before you actually meet. You want to make sure that your group uses its time effectively and efficiently. The agenda will help you run your meeting, but it will also help your group know what everyone needs to prepare ahead of time.

The agenda should be emailed out to your group a day or two before your meeting, especially if you want to discuss course readings, go over research, or anything else that might take some preparation.

Your agenda could look something like this:


Meeting time: Tuesday 5pm-6pm
Place: Library Learning Terrace (Race St. Dorms)

1. Review our timeline for the project. Are we on track? (5 minutes)*

2. Review feedback from instructor from the outline we created. (10 minutes)

3. Discuss the case questions that are due next week. Everyone, let's make sure that we've all read the case and please take notes and look over the case questions in the course syllabus. (30 minutes)

4. Check in with everyone's progress and review our next steps. (15 minutes)


* We recommend having a timed agenda. You want to make sure that your group can get to all the important issues you'll need to work out together.


This is how groups usually deal with a social loafer:

A) Discover that a teammate didn't do their part
B) Scramble to complete that teammate's part of the project to turn the work in on time
C) Ignore the teammate that didn't do the work.

Remember, people become social loafers because they think that it's easier (and just as beneficial) to let others do their work for them. So, the other team members need to make sure that the loafer knows that the team needs the loafer's input.

You can start by just saying something like this, "Hey. We're concerned that you didn't meet the deadline that we all agreed to. Is there something that we, your teammates, can do to help you with your section of our project? We really need everyone on the team to contribute in order for this project to be successful."

Calling someone out is always really difficult, but we promise you that it'll be better than just ignoring your teammate and doing her share of the project.

Constructing Excellence is the single organization charged with driving the change agenda in construction.

Effective Teamwork, A Best Practice Guide for the Construction Industry, demonstrates how teamwork can be an important tool in achieving Constructing Excellence objectives. Drawing from the management literature on teamwork, together with original research, the guide examines various aspects of setting up and managing teams, with practical examples from the construction
industry and a useful team self-assessment tool.

Many of the concepts highlighted in this guide are are also applicable in successfully participating in any group work related activities in difference subject areas.

Access: Effective Teamwork - A Best Practice Guide for the Construction Industry

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