Working with others is something you will be asked to do time and time again, both at University and beyond. At face value, this might seem like something that is easy enough, but there are many challenges that working with others is likely to present. You need to consider how you will adapt to each challenge to get the most out of not only the group, but yourself too.
As a student, now is the ideal time to develop this skill. You are given the opportunity to work with your peers; these are people in exactly the same position as you, going through the same experiences, and likely to share a lot of the same worries you do. This is a safe and supportive environment in which you can discuss ideas, learn from each other, and develop key skills that will benefit you throughout your entire career. Your peers might well have developed hard-won knowledge about how best to approach a subject you are really struggling with; in turn you might have worked out plenty for yourself that others just haven’t realised. Furthermore, you can help one another hugely simply by acting as a sympathetic audience and “ critical friend”.
It’s for all of these reasons and more that you will often be expected to participate in group tasks and activities, or might set these up yourself.
The main thing to remember here, is that you are all working towards the same goal, and want to achieve as much as possible. These pages are designed to help you think about how to go about doing that, and to deal with any challenges that might arise along the way. Here are some key things you need to remember:
Working with other students can make you behave differently than if you were working by yourself. It's the same for everyone, which makes seeing those behaviours unfold and change as the group comes together one of the pleasures – and potential pains – of group work. If it didn’t, and if everyone remained resolutely the same no matter what circumstances they were in, many of the benefits of group work wouldn’t be achieved. So the question becomes one of working through the dynamics that emerge within a group, rather than trying to work around them.
In other words, understanding group dynamics eases some of the heartache of group work, as you realise that difficulties are not always caused by particular individuals within a group (yourself included), but rather about the way you have all approached the task together.
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