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Adult Learner Skills

Ways to Survive Group Work

The Basics

Group work is a common part of post-secondary education. This chart highlights some of the most basic skills required to succeed in group projects, both virtually and in-person.


Tips to Survive Group Work

Don’t Worry

Anxiety is a common feeling for everyone when having to work with a new group of people. Recognize that everyone in a group probably feels the same way.

Choose Group Members Wisely

Whenever possible, choose group members wisely. This can be difficult if everyone is a stranger, but the members of a group will determine the quality of the project. Try to identify who works well in a group and how to work cohesively in a given group.

Frustration is Normal

Working with different people can be frustrating at times. The important thing is to handle the frustration in a constructive way, and to not create tensions within the group.

Be Respectful

Always be open to the ideas that others have, even if they are disagreeable. Be respectful to group members, as success relies on cooperation. Everyone is different, so it is important to be respectful of one another's differences.

Be Organized and Complete your Allocated Tasks

Completing your own allocated group tasks is crucial to ensuring success for your entire team. Don to be the one who halts progress, complete your task on timey. Organization and planning are increasingly important when working within a team as others rely on you as much as you do them.

Communicate Effectively and Consistently

Effective communication is the most critical aspect to successful group work. It is wise to set up a group communication tool, perhaps on What’s App or Facebook Messenger, as soon as the group is formed. Regular meetings in a suitable environment are also important. Setting roles for every team member and allocating tasks as early a possible will assist with creating smooth transitions through every stage of the task with everybody knowing what is expected of them from the beginning.

Contribute to the Group

Take group work seriously. Contributions to the group project should hold the same priority as independent work - never expect others to pick up the slack.

Celebrate Success

Group work and projects can sometimes be a challenge - so when things go well, celebrate! Take pride in the work as a group, and use that positivity to move forward. After a group project is completed successfully, there may even be potential to make some new friends.

Steps for Successful Online Group Work

Step 1: Complete and sign your team contract

  • Create realistic timelines, key milestones, and individual responsibilities
  • Create a code of conduct with agreed on expected behaviors of team members
  • Ensure that each team member signs the team contract as a sign of good faith

Step 2: Create a timeline and clear individual roles and responsibilities

  • Create clearly defined individual goals and group goals

Step 3: Determine a communication strategy

  • Determine how often you will need to communicate
  • Discuss the online tools will you use to hold meetings or communicate generally
  • Decide how the team will share information

Dealing with Conflict

Before the start of the group work process, it is important to know that conflict may occur amongst group members. Conflict should be acknowledged and properly dealt with. The following are ways in which group members can handle conflict in the event that it occurs: 

  • Disagreements can make the group work process difficult if they are frequent or emotionally charged. It is important to stay emotionally detached from your work, and find common ground when there are opposing ideas.
  • Handle over-controlling group members by reminding the group that everyone’s input matters. Also, make space for other group members to give input. And ensure that everyone has a safe space to share their ideas. 
  • Handle inactive group members by addressing the problem directly. Find out why the group member is having difficulty contributing and address the issue as a group respectfully. (University of Melbourne, n.d.).

More Help with Group Work

For a more extensive guide on working in groups, check out the Group Work module on the Academic Skills Hub.



Algonquin College. (2019). The Online Student’s Guide to Group Work. Retrieved June 9, 2020, from

Ender, Steven C. and Fred B. Newton (2000). Students Helping Students. (pp. 129-155). San Francisco: John C. Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Muhlenberg. (n.d.). Guide to Effective Study Groups. Retrieved June 8, 2020, from 

Tips for Online Students Working on Group Projects. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2020, from