Nearly every student finds it difficult to work well in groups at least once in his or her academic career. Group work involves sharing responsibility and control, and it can take years to hone these skills. Help your child develop positive and productive habits early on so he or she can work well in groups throughout the rest of his or her school years and adult life. There are actually great benefits to group study!Here are several tips for the most common types of group members:
Apathetic or shy group members
These students are either shy or don't care to contribute to their groups. The best way for your child to approach this group member is to talk to him or her. Have your student explain (clearly, firmly, and politely) that his or her input and assistance is necessary for the group to succeed. Have your child directly ask shy students for their thoughts or suggestions, and remind your student to be responsive to their contributions.
With apathetic students, the above advice may not be sufficient. If they still fail to participate, it is best for your child to inform his or her teacher. Also ensure that your student understands that it is not okay to take on this group member’s role – instead, work should always be shared evenly.
Controlling group members
Controlling group members can be especially challenging to work well in groups with. They may badger their groupmates, they may not trust other team members to carry their weight, or they may want tasks done just so. Again, the best way for your child to deal with this kind of person is to speak to them. Have your student explain that they know their responsibilities and that they are doing their part accurately and on time. Remind them to convey that they understand that their group member cares a great deal, and that they appreciate all the work he or she does. Your student should ask this person to trust him or her and to respect his or her abilities.
If your child has become a controlling group member, do your best to discover why. Ask them why this project is so important, why they do not trust their group members, and what might happen if they give their peers some space. Then address these underlying problems.
Confused group members
These students honestly do not understand the concepts or processes central to their group work. Their parts of the project may contain numerous errors, or they may shy away from taking on responsibility because they fear making mistakes. The best thing for your child to do is to explain those concepts that are unclear. This is why group work exists: for students to help one another with difficult material. Vocalizing the concepts can help cement them for your student too, so the act of teaching can actually help your child learn.
If your student is struggling and feels like he or she is letting the group down, pursue academic help – either by talking to the teacher, requesting a tutor, or studying together. Remind your child that he or she can always ask for help and that there's no shame in doing so. These tips may also help your child to deal with group projects.