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Undergraduate Student Support: Group Work

This library guide strives to provide e-support for undergraduate students at the NWU.

Why do we have to work in groups?

  • It is an instructional tool where cooperative learning allows students to work together in groups.
  • Each member is accountable for the group's success.
  • The goal is to maximise personal and each other's learning.  It is a joint effort.
  • It provides an opportunity for academic and personal support.
  • Every member becomes actively involved in finding, selecting, organising, interpreting and summarising material.
  • Every member is a leader.
  • Social skills are necessary to achieve goals.

First impressions

  • You don't have to like the people in your group
  • Critisise and idea or point of view, not the group member
  • No gender profiling
  • Everyone thinks and process information differently
  • Each group member has his own work habits

Outcomes of Group Work

  • Members learn how to synthesise different ideas and opinions
  • Challenging each other leads to higher-level thought, reasoning, critical thinking
  • New ideas and solutions to problems are generated
  • Group work stimulates changes in reasoning and work habits
  • A common goal is reached via different perspectives
  • it's not just about learning, new friendships may also be found

Group Work in Seminar Rooms

Tips to help the group function

Share ideas, opinions, information sources

  • Participate.  Multiple perspectives are valuable
  • Ask questions
  • Ask for help
  • Offer help
  • Support each other
  • Acceptance of all the team members
  • Honor group deadlines
  • Work systematically
  • Fair and equal share of work for everyone

Group work in action

During the first meeting

  • SWOT analysis - be honest about your strenghts and weaknesses
  • Specify academic objectives - purpose
  • Assign roles
  • Arrange a meeting place
  • Project planning
  • Establish time limits
  • Keep notes of task allocation and work progress

Group work is unsuccessful when members....

  • have no clear objectives
  • don't establish ground rules for conduct
  • are not punctual
  • do not turn up
  • leave early
  • are not prepared
  • act as if they knew everything
  • do not contribute, talk too much and never listen
  • intimidate other group members
  • lacks interpersonal skills
  • disrupt meetings
  • don't equally do allocated tasks
  • see working sessions as a social gathering

Final thought

Group work prepares you for the workplace. Getting hired means you have to be employable, productive, have interpersonal,  communication and decision-making skills, be responsible, punctual, show initiative, be a team player and solve problems.

These skills are all acquired by group work.