Regardless of what anyone may say, blood is thicker than water. By that, I mean if you slight someone’s family member, be prepared for battle. Whether it is true or not, the right or wrong of the case rarely matters, and rational thought doesn’t often enter into the discussion.
For more on this, check out the short video below:
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?”
A colleague of mine often stated that higher education is the only business where the customers are willing to take less than they paid for, and actually ask to be short-changed. By that he was referring to the fact that students will almost always jump at a chance to get out of class early, or have their assignments shortened. I know this to be true, because I was once a student too, and that was part of my perspective.
I was talking with a young lady a few months ago about her educational goals. I asked where she planned to go to college. She indicated a school more than an hour away, even though there were schools locally that had the same program. When I inquired why she would drive that far for the same program, she said that the school she wanted to go to had a reputation for being easier. She was enrolling in a nursing program . . . think about it.
Another student I talked to indicated she never read the assignments and was doing just fine. A different student in a more advanced class also wasn’t reading the assignments but was struggling to grasp the material. I often hear the statement “we are having to teach ourselves,” and it occured to me that you might not understand the dynamics of Adult Degree Completion programs, which is what Belhaven University’s Adult Studies is based on, so I thought I’d explain it.
If you were a traditional undergraduate student you would be attending class two or three times a week over a 16 week semester for a total of 40 seat hours. The Adult Studies model has you in class for the same 3 credit hour course for only 20 hours condensed into 5 weeks. We can do this for two reasons:
By having you read the material ahead of time and attempt the homework, you come to class better prepared to ask questions and with a better understanding of what you need to have clarified. This is a crucial piece and what is often confused with “teaching yourself.” Of course, that means to get the fullest benefit from your course you need to read the assigned material, attempt the assignments to the best of your ability, and meet in class for the full time. Your engagement in the class sessions makes a big difference in what you learn. This model effectively saves you 20 extra hours of sitting in a classroom setting!
Because you are adults, your experiences increase your ability to take the material and integrate it into your life better than an 18-22 year old could. You are better able to see connections between what you are learning and real-life applications; which makes it possible to shorten the learning process, again, saving you many additional hours in the classroom.
I hope this has helped put things into perspective for you. I want you to succeed, but it won’t happen accidentally. It will require real effort on your part and you will benefit most from a passion to get ALLyou paid for by fully applying yourself.
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.
For productive and effective work, there’s nothing like collaboration with people you already like and respect—people you trust and know you can work well with. Eventually, though, it will likely fall upon you to work with someone you just don’t like. If you try to get out of it you only end up looking bad. That’s why learning to collaborate successfully with people you dislike is such a valuable skill.
Here are some starting points—try them out on your nemesis in small-scale situations so you’ll be prepared when you’re assigned to a major project together.
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.