Group Work in Grad School

This article is a conflict resolution guide for students working in groups it also outlines how to efficiently accomplish a task.  I think all graduate programs should assign some kind of reading like this before assigning any kind of group work!  While I think most people enjoy working in groups it is not an easy thing to do and as the group gets larger the harder it becomes.  In theory work is divided amongst the members equally, each person completes their tasks then everything comes together harmoniously.  Emphasis on IN THEORY!  We all know that there will most likely be someone who is doing more work than us (and we love that person for it) and someone who is doing less than us (which may drive us crazy depending on how much less and other circumstances).  There will be strong personalities and group members who just do not get along.

We’d think as adults we could easily find solutions to these conflicts but in reality this is often not the case.  In my opinion group work in a school setting for adults becomes even harder.  In high school and even in our undergraduate classes group work is much more easily managed.  Because most do not have much of a “life” beyond school, and more than likely group members live within short distances of each other.  As graduate students everyone is working full time, some have husbands, boyfriends, wives and girlfriends, maybe children and do not necessarily live in the same area.  Scheduling becomes a HUGE factor, how can a time be coordinated when all group members can meet.  Then of course as we become older the more set in our ways we become, while some have a take charge kind of attitude, others have to be guided.  There are all kinds of conflicts that can arise when people work in groups, this article covers some of them and give a nice step by step process that can be followed to help solve these problems.

Now, I don’t mean that this articles advice should be followed exactly because most of the steps in the process happen naturally.  It does open your mind to as to how to make group work more efficient, things that should be discussed and worked out right away while there are other items that can be left to work out later.  Most important I think most people need a brush up on their conflict resolution and problem solving skills.

While all this may seem like common sense, I can tell you from recent projects that it is not!    My recommendation would be if you are looking for a graduate school enter a program that will be a cohort where you will complete all your classes with the same group of people.  I am starting to discover that the better you get to know people it does make things a bit easier, because you understand that person better and something about them that may have driven you crazy in the beginning you now find not only tolerable but endearing.  Getting to that point can be quite a journey.

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