Guidelines for Working in Groups
1. Groups tend to go through several stages. It can help to recognize these so that you can realize the frustrations may pass. Groups take some time to coalesce; then the dynamics of the group have to become routine; then there will normally be a temporary breakdown, where conflicts get aired that have to come out for there to be progress; finally, the group will reorganize with a new understanding of goals and responsibilities, with which everyone can work. This process is termed by one educational psychologist "FORMING--NORMING--STORMING--REFORMING." Don't be surprised if your group has to do this.
2. Here are some questions to ask yourself regularly to keep track of group progress:
- Does the group have a clear focus? Are you all on the same page?
- Is the group communicating clearly about the most important problems or tasks?
- Do group dynamics allow everyone to express their ideas and wishes? Is someone dominating, or is someone not participating?
- Who is doing the leading and how are they managing others?
- If a group is having conflicts, is there a mediator/peacemaker who can step in and resolve difficulties? If someone is not doing her/his part, is there a group member who can confront her/him? Are you that person?
- Does the group balance the dual needs to explore problems and solve problems? Does the group do a "reality check" every now and then to see where it is going or what it is doing at the moment?
Consider your own participation in the group's behaviors:
- What role are you playing? do you provide direction, do you follow direction, a little of each?
- How do you handle disagreements with other members? Are there better ways to go about it? Can you find a mediator?
- How committed are you to the success of the group's efforts?
- Are there issues you can voice which will make you more comfortable working in a group?
In order for the group to succeed, you will need to support each other's efforts. You should agree to work together as a group toward both individual and group goals, and you should agree to give and receive feedback with good-nature and good humor. Provide plenty of positive and some negative reinforcements for one another.
Back to Directions for Group Project.