To group, or not to group…

Studies at GSE involve performing a substantial number of different activities which vary from course to course. But one thing that you find almost in every course syllabus is a group work. I am not going to write how important it is to develop team working skills or what roles you can take. Today’s blog is about how groups are different in their working style based on my personal experience of being a student at GSE.

After the first semester, I realized that some features of a group performance allow me to classify it into three categories, or styles of work. The first working style I would call “Follow me!” There is a strong leader whose opinion dominates in the team. Other members are either too quiet or too sleepy to contribute. It may probably be an effective way to do the task if the leader is willing to do all the work and others are ok to follow the instructions. But I believe that what you get at the end of such cooperation is a relief that the project is finally done.

Another type of a team work I would call “See you on the due date!”. It means that the minimum time is spent together between the first and last meetings of this team. Members of the group complete arranged parts of the project separately and bring revised (or nor revised, who knows) works  before the deadline to compile a single project. I was a bit shocked when we did so because all the authors’ points were great by themselves but did not work together at all. We tried to give more sense to the flow of ideas and at the end of the day everybody felt so tired that we just submitted the work because we had no will (and no time of course) to make what we thought of a “perfect work”.

I was trying to find a good name for my last experience in a group work but “work + fun = result” probably fits best. I think that is the way the group work is supposed to be built. You meet first and make sure everybody gets some work to do before the next meeting. Next time you revise together what you have so the work is developed smoothly step by step. We enjoyed working together and it was fine to be a little ineffective sometimes and have fun. But no matter what, everybody’s ideas were listened to and discussed. Everybody’s opinion was important. Everybody’s joke mattered.

I believe this working style is the best for one reason: you do not get tired working on your project. You do not feel exhausted like after a long run, you feel inspired. I am so glad I had a chance to get such experience during my studying here. The question is: do you get the same feelings working in groups?

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5 thoughts on “To group, or not to group…

  1. Maria, thank you for sharing this interesting blog! Personally, I have worked with all types of groups you mentioned in your post. I completely agree that the last one is more inspiring than others as you feel more engaged and motivated. The matter of issue in every group work is the sense of individuality. Another case that makes me think is our education in the past. I have never worked in groups during school years here in Kazakhstan. Schools now are trying to include group works in every class as it is a step of changing the traditional style of teaching. I see above mentioned issues as constraints to perform well in group works. What do you think?

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    1. The trend you have mentioned is definitely the one we need in schools. Of course, a great deal of a group work is the personality of the student and how he/she can cooperate with other personalities but there are some ways to make the performance higher. The teacher can guide students and explain to them how to cope with conflicts, manage time, and take responsibilities. That is why I believe that starting from school children should learn how to contribute to the group work and, more importantly, how to let others contribute.

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      1. That’s a fascinating topic you brought up, Maria. Group work is something that is new in educational institutions in Kazakhstan and little is known about the way it should be carried out. The idea of fun as a part of effective teamwork never came to my mind before. However, if to ponder, having fun with your group members contributes to building rapport and makes it more comfortable to share your ideas. What I was wondering about is whether there is a one and only way to collaborate productively or no formula exists to fit all and what works with one group is unlikely to have positive results with another. If there are certain guidelines that will ensure the success of any group work, what could some possible dos and don’ts be?

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  2. Wow, Mariya! (5/5) You sound like a true meta-cognitive student. This post is well-written and fully developed, complete with an original and insightful organization of the ways you understand and experience group work. I would love an image or maybe some formatting that corresponds to each of the the groups. There are also some mistakes with articles, which we’ll tackle together in class.

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  3. Maria thank you for the amazing post you made. You pertinently marked that the study at NUGSE involves a huge amount of group work, even some final works were performed in a group. Also, your division of types of how different teams act differently is just precise and live. However, my experience with the second style you described “See you on the due date!” is quite positive. I and my teammates met only two times. The first time we distributed the roles and chose the parts every team member is in charge of. During our second and last gathering together we compiled all parts and got ready for defensing of our project. It was actually pleasurable work to do.
    Being honest, I prefer an individual work rather than a team work, since I know that I am the only one who is responsible for the results of the project. Maybe it is because I am kind of introverted person. Howbeit, after completing numerous group assignments now I feel more comfortable and really enjoy working with my groupmates. The thing I like the most about the group work is that all people generate various ideas and this makes the final product extremely creative.

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