How To Make Group-work Work
Working in groups at university is a valuable part of the educational experience that can help Physiotherapy students improve their application of knowledge and solve problems within a group. From learning how to communicate effectively with others to developing a deeper understanding of course material, group work is a powerful tool for Physiotherapy students to become competent and confident qualified Physiotherapists. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of working in groups at university, tips for success, and best practices for making the most of group work.
One of the biggest advantages of working in groups at university is the opportunity to develop skills that are important in the professional, post-graduate world. For example, group work can help students learn how to effectively communicate with others, collaborate on projects, and negotiate differing opinions. Additionally, group work can also help students improve their ability to retain information and build a deeper understanding of course material as they share and receive information from other members of the group.
To make group work run smoothly at University, it is essential to have clear goals and strategies for communication. For example, setting clear expectations for how often the group will meet, who will take notes, and who will take the lead on certain tasks can help ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, it is important to establish a culture of respect from within the group. This can be achieved by setting ground rules for communication and by encouraging everyone to contribute their ideas and perspectives. It is not uncommon for University students to overlook these seemingly simple practices, but they are crucial to prevent failures in communication or group conflicts from arising. Written communication can be helpful in ensuring that everyone has a record of what was discussed and decided upon. For example, sending a summary email after a group meeting can help ensure that everyone is clear on what was discussed and what the next steps are.
Another challenge that can arise in group work is clashes between schedules and contrasting opinions between group members. However, with the right strategies in place, these challenges can be overcome. One solution is to set meeting times in advance to allow everyone to plan their schedules accordingly. By setting meeting times in advance, group members can avoid last-minute scheduling conflicts. Be willing to compromise and find a time that works for everyone. For example, if one member has a class that ends 30 minutes before the meeting time, consider starting the meeting 30 minutes later to accommodate their schedule. It is also incredibly useful to use technology to make scheduling meetings easier. For example, use scheduling tools like Doodle or Google Calendar to find a time that works for everyone. Additionally, having a backup plan in case a member cannot attend a meeting. For example, record the meeting or provide meeting minutes to ensure that everyone is informed about what was discussed.
There are several ways to handle group conflicts. For example, setting clear expectations for how the group will handle conflicts, such as through open communication and active listening, can help ensure that everyone is heard and that decisions are made fairly. It can also be useful to seek help from a lecturer when necessary to clarify if the work produced by the group is aligned with the objective(s) of the group task. Address any conflicts directly with the person or people involved in the conflict. Speak calmly and respectfully, and avoid making accusations or assigning blame to uphold a respectful environment. Finally, it is helpful to brainstorm solutions with the people involved in the conflict. Encourage everyone to share their ideas, and work together to find a solution that meets everyone's needs.
Working in groups at university is a valuable part of the educational experience that can help you develop important interpersonal skills and improve your professional knowledge. From setting clear goals and communicating effectively, to embracing best practices and seeking help when necessary, group work can be a powerful tool for Physiotherapy students. So if you haven't already, embrace the opportunity to work in groups and enrich your university experience!