Group work

Most courses will involve some form of working together in groups for a project or assignment. You may be put into a group by your lecturer, or you may be able to choose your own groups. It is an opportunity to develop team-work and leadership skills that are highly valued by employers. Being able to collaborate with others is also valuable more generally in life and in studying. Getting the basics right at the beginning will help to keep your group on track, enabling you to work to everyone’s strengths and have an enjoyable experience. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Agree on how to organise

One of the first tasks of any group is to agree on the practicalities of how you will meet, communicate, and make decisions. This guide gives a good overview on running a group smoothly:

Managing problems

All groups face some disagreements as you get to know each other’s strengths and establish the norms for how the group will work together. It’s good to understand why any problems might be occurring and address them early on without getting personal.

A good team member

You have a responsibility to contribute to the group’s success. This doesn’t mean you have to be the most talkative. This guide looks at how you can contribute, and also have awareness of how cultural differences may affect approaches to group work:

Use Google Meet or Zoom to meet online

If your group members are busy and it’s hard to find a good time to meet in person, consider an online meeting instead. As a member of Brookes, you can use your Brookes login details to access the licenced versions of Zoom and Google Meet paid for by the University. You can use these video conferencing platforms to hold your own online meetings for your project groups or to collaborate with friends. See the Brookes’ page on video conferencing for more information:

Use Google Docs and Google Drive to share work

Having one document that everyone in the group can work on is often easier and less confusing than each saving your own version. As a Brookes student you have access to Google Docs and a Google Drive to save your work. These can be useful tools as they enable you to share documents with other Brookes students so you can all collaborate and edit the same version of the document. The guide below is a basic introduction to Google Apps at Brookes:

Managing online group discussions

Sometimes during online meetings you may be put into breakout rooms to have smaller group discussions. It often takes longer to get settled and ready in these groups. Help the group get going and avoid awkward silences by introducing yourself, welcoming others, and checking everyone has access to the documents. Anything you can do to make a more friendly and focused environment will help the discussion go smoothly.

Further resources

If you’d like to read more about the dynamics of good group work, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library: