As I’ve mentioned in other posts, collaboration on team projects can be challenging. Getting everyone together to work on the project is part of the problem. Trying to arrange schedules so that all those involved can participate and get on the same page can be difficult if not impossible. When you can’t get everyone together you run the risk of miscommunication and mis-aligned goals and responsibilities, leading to frustration and possible failure.
The other major problem is tracking the deliverables of everyone on the team to make sure they are getting their work done and submitted in a timely manner. When you can’t track how the other team members are progressing on their part of the project it can create a great deal of anxiety for the rest of the team, and when it is discovered that an important part of the project hasn’t been delivered on time, anger and finger-pointing follow.
Here is a process which I believe will prove effective for moving your team project through to completion.
Once the group members have been identified, agree on one individual to take the point in communication and logistics. The point person should immediately set up a google doc with the file name Course#-Covenant and invite everyone to share editing privileges with the team. You can find more on the team covenant in my previous post HERE. The Instructor should also be invited to share the document to view participation by the whole team.
The first week, either meet as a group to discuss the Covenant, or the point person sets up a Zoom conference, using the link in Canvas, with the whole team at an agreed upon time to dicsuss the team covenant and finalize it.
No later than week two the group meets again to parcel out the responsibilities of the group for the project. I would include those at the bottom of the team covenant on the google doc for everyone to see.
Still in week two, the point person should now create a google doc for the project: Course #-Project Name and share it with the group and the instructor. The point person should also create a google slide for the project: Course #-Project Name. The google doc will be the working document for those who are writing the paper and doing the research. The google slide will be the presentation document for the in-class presentation. The benefit of this document and slide presentation is that it is easy to see who has added what, and when. It will be easy for the whole group to work on the document/slide at the same time or separately, so everyone will know the status of the entire project at all times.
Each week the point person should set up a regular meeting either in person, or through Zoom, or by chat while in the document or the slide to discuss the progress and potential areas for improvement. If you see someone is not keeping up with their area of responsibility, make sure to call them on it based on the covenant early-on.
Every team member should take responsibility for enforcing the covenant and confronting stragglers. If you follow this process you will not only have a better chance of submitting a superior project, it will also improve your skills in working across a distance on team projects, which can be cited on your resume.
OK, now it is your turn – what does this process miss and what do you recommend as a solution?
Attitudes are contagious, especially yours as the leader. Negativity will sink the morale of everyone around you. It can creep up on you so subtly that you may not even realize it has become a prominent part of your perspective. Stop and check yourself daily, asking “am I displaying a negative attitude, a critical spirit, or constantly griping or whining about situations?”
Using good grammar matters in your writing, and it matters in your speech. Poor grammar will have a limiting effect on your career, and do so in a way that you may never know why you are not progressing. Being able to communicate effectively requires you to understand and use good grammar in all forms of communication.
There are some tasks which will make the difference between success and failure at home, work, and life in general. These are the Tasks Which Define Success. Do those tasks well and success is assured, fail to do these tasks or do them poorly and you may be very busy, but not very successful.
Team Projects are often the most dreaded part of a course. While not all our courses include a Team Project, there are still several which do. So, the question is, “What can I do, personally, to make the team experience a positive one (and also get a good grade)?” I’m glad you asked. Here are several ideas for improving the outcome of your team project:
Make sure you complete the Team Covenant the first meeting of your team. This can be found on Blazenet under StudentLife/Services in the Documents. While completing this may take a few minutes, the value comes in having everyone on the same page – especially when it seems like some in the group are dropping the ball. Calling out those who aren’t complying with the Covenant expectations may be necessary, but it is much easier if the Covenant exists
Make sure everyone has a copy of the Team Evaluation rubric. This can be found in the same place on Blazenet. The important thing here is to make clear to everyone up front that you are going to be brutally honest in completing this form at the end of the project.
Do your best to stay engaged in the Project, completing the expectations assigned to you. Don’t hesitate to check in with other team members on their progress.
I HIGHLY recommend you use either a Google Doc and/or Google Slides for your project and include the Instructor. Both of these are free, and it can easily be determined who contributed and how much they contributed. The team leader should start the Document/Slides and then share it with the rest of the team members. That way you can all work from different locations at the same time on the same presentation or document. Both also have chat capabilities built in so you can “talk” in real time about the project.
You may not have tried it before, but Canvas has a Zoom link on the left panel which can be used for video conferencing and screen sharing. This means you don’t have to set up another time to get together, you can video conference. This is a simple product and it works great – you can also record the session to further prove who participated and who didn’t. Just identify who will be setting up the meetings.
Team projects, when done effectively, can enhance your knowledge and skills. If you incorporate group software like I describe above it can also make you more valuable at work.
How can students benefit from Handshake?
by Dr. Mark Hunter
All Belhaven students, traditional, adult, and online, can benefit from Handshake because it provides jobs and internships for every student, regardless of major. Based upon your student profile, Handshake provides customized recommendations of jobs and internships based on your interests. Handshake has access to over 326.000 employers, including all of the Fortune 500 companies. A great feature of Handshake is employers can directly contact students who want to have their profile available to employers. Students who complete their profile are five times more likely to be messaged by employers interested in hiring them. Handshake also connects Belhaven students with over 14 million other Handshake users across the country to ask career-related questions about job searches and specific employers. Handshake is also the one-stop shop to connect all Belhaven students with the Center for Career and Calling for a list of upcoming events, resume evaluation, and mock interviews. Our online and adult students can access the Career and Calling staff through video conferencing.
How can students utilize the Handshake app to help them?
The Handshake app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is found in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, free of charge. Unlike Indeed and other job-posting websites, Handshake only provides job and internship postings for current and recently graduated college students. Rather than sifting through hundreds of or thousands of job postings, Handshake provides Belhaven students listings of job and internships that are customized for them and do not require years of previous experience to secure the job.
What are some misconceptions about job hunting after college that students need to know?
A misconception is underestimating how important a good cover letter and resume can be in getting a candidate an interview for a job. Hiring managers often take between 10-30 seconds to read a resume before deciding whether to pursue the candidate further or to proceed to the next candidate. The Center for Calling and Career can assist students with resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews to help them land that new job.
Things are rarely as they seem to be, in fact, sometimes they are RADICALLY different! So, when confronted by challenging circumstances, or people, Avoid knee-jerk reactions and snap decisions until you have a better understanding of the situation. When you make a knee-jerk reaction or decision (emergencies excepted) it will almost always have some negative ramifications. Take a few moments to breathe; if necessary disengage or dampen your emotions so you can think. See the video below for more…
This is part of a series of short videos I’ve recorded under the general title: Proverbs for Living a Fulfilling Life. Most are less than 2 minutes in length, although this first one is approximately 4 minutes. My purpose in recording them is to provide some mentoring thoughts for you to reflect upon and, hopefully, contribute to you having a more fulfilling life. This is the first of the series and begins on the foundation of the importance of having life principles.
Great accomplishments and achievements do not come by chance. You must work hard, you must work smart… but whatever the task at hand may be… whether it’s an individual assignment / project, a course, or an entire degree… to achieve great results you must focus, you must commit, and you must ultimately get out of your comfort zone.
Staying the course and staying on track can be difficult with all of life’s distractions, specifically for adult learners. Finding your “why” and remembering your “why”… can help you stay focused on completing your next task, and ultimately getting to the finish line- graduation! Often times, when students become distracted their focus is distorted and they forget their “why” or motivation for earning their degree in the first place. It is when they refocus and revert back to the compelling reason that brought them on this journey, to the point of thinking about how their lives will not change if they do not finish their degree…that they will re-commit and consider doing things differently to achieve their desired results.
Comfort Zones are just that, comfortable. It has been said that “Great things never came from comfort zones”. When people are comfortable and content, they usually do not move out of that position or expand their capabilities. However, when people are out of options, pushed to their limits, and become totally lost in their future plans, often- there is no other choice, but to make a drastic change and try something new and out of the norm. For many adult learners, going back to school and while balancing their life and career is something totally outside of their comfort zone. Carving out personal time, in general for many working parents, can be a challenge in itself… but making changes and improving ones quality of life through higher education is worth the intermediate discomfort. Leaving your comfort zone allows you to look beyond what you think you are capable of and allows you to see how you can do more than you imagined. When you take the risk and leave your comfort zone and just go “all- in” to reach your goals… you will totally succeed! The only thing that is limiting your success, is you!
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
So, just remember… You can do this! You can finish your degree! Remember your “why” and be ready to get outside your comfort zone. God has given you the will to be successful and with the finish line, just on the horizon, just keep going until you finish!
I have been working in adult education for almost 30 years. I am planning to retire in a few months, so this will be my final blog post. As I think back through the years, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of success stories of adults completing their degrees! However, on the journey to this achievement, many students have faced discouraging times, with multiple reasons including personal, financial, job-related, health, etc.
Based on my past experience, I would like to give you some good advice. If you are having problems and are discouraged, I want to encourage you. Don’t give up! This too shall pass. It may pass “like a kidney stone,” but it will pass! In Galatians 6:9 we read, “At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Many people have claimed to be the author of this inspirational poem which speaks to this topic, but the true author is unknown. I hope it will have positive meaning for you. God bless you all.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.