At first, when I did group work I needed to read a lot before so I had something in my mind and can say something. Also with British students - sometimes they spoke fast. I can hardly understand and most of the time I was silent. Now I am used to it and speak. - Yao
At some point during your studies in the UK it is likely that you will be asked to work with other students. There may be various occasions when your tutor asks you to do this. For example, you may be asked to collaborate with other students in a group project or work together with another student to prepare and deliver a joint presentation in a seminar.
In this activity you will think about what collaboration can involve in an academic situation and explore some of the skills students need for working together successfully.
Skills for collaborating
Working successfully with others requires practical as well as personal skills. One of the main advantages of working with others is that you can benefit from the skills of others that you may not have yourself, and share your own skills. In this activity you are going to solve a puzzle and explore some of the typical challenges of working in a group. Nine students have been instructed by their tutor to work in three groups of three to perform a course task. Your task is to decide on the best way to form the three groups taking into account the students' personalities and different skills, so that they complement each other.
Think about the personalities and skills of the different students and decide who should be in each group. One member of each group has already been selected. Select the other two members of each group from the dropdown lists. When you have solved the puzzle, read the feedback.
You can make your selection using the dropdown menus. If you change your mind, you can still change your selection.
Naomi is good at generating ideas but gives up easily when a task is difficult.
Stefano is conscientious and good at making sure that tasks get finished.
Cindy can lead discussions but is a little argumentative.
Here is the solution to the puzzle:
Student group 1: Naomi, Tomas and Betty Student group 2: Stefano, Lei and Francis Student group 3: Cindy, Andrea and Weng
How many of the skills which these students have are particularly useful when collaborating? Which of their skills do you already have?
Other ways of forming the three groups of students may also be possible. This puzzle illustrates an important point: in any situation where students are required to work together on a course task, there may be personality clashes but there should also be the opportunity for group members to benefit from each other's different skills.
To work well in a group collaboration on your course or as part of a team, you will need certain skills such as being able to negotiate and being able to listen to, support and challenge each other's ideas if necessary. You may already have some of the necessary skills; others may be skills that you still need to develop.
If you are asked by your course tutor to carry out a challenging activity in groups, remember that this is also an opportunity to develop key skills that will be useful later in your professional life such as the ability to set appropriate goals, organise regular meetings, take turns in speaking and keep to time. Working in groups is not always straightforward. It can be challenging and even difficult at times but you can learn an enormous amount from the experience.
Would you like to review the main points?
If you are asked by a tutor to work with other students on a course-related task during your studies in the UK, you can take advantage of this opportunity to benefit from the experience of collaborating and develop the skills it requires. You can expect to meet some challenges when you are asked to work with others but you can also expect to gain considerably from the process of collaborating with other students.
Go to this web link if you would like to learn more about working with others on a university course: Working with others