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Group Work Module

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do I do if a group member is not participating in discussions?

Do not jump to conclusions. The person concerned may have a very valid reason for not contributing. Try addressing a question to them directly in the discussion board. If they still do not participate then a team lead could send them an email asking them if everything is OK. If they have still not provided a satisfactory reason or began participating, then the faculty should be notified.

2. What do I do if the designated group leader does not facilitate well or contribute enough?

It may sometimes happen that the initial group leader does not lead the group well or does not provide adequate facilitation of the group. This presents a difficult situation as you do not want to offend someone by totally taking over their role but at the same time, the group needs to be facilitated. In the event where your leader is not contributing, you can present ideas to the group and follow up with an email to the leader and copy the group members. This may encourage the leader to be more proactive in their role but if this does not occur, this technique allows you to guide the group without jumping into the role of leader.

4. How do I deal with someone who is being unnecessarily critical?

As it is an online module take care not to be too sensitive as this type of communication can be difficult and can often lead to misinterpretation. If a group member has been unnecessarily critical you could take it upon yourself to ask them why e.g. ‘why did you not like the idea so much?’ or ask them to come up with a suitable alternative. If the criticism is of another group member’s ideas, it may be worth stepping in and picking out a positive aspect of the idea to contradict the criticism e.g. ‘It seems that people don’t agree with using those bright graphics for the leaflet, I do however think that we need some form of color to brighten it up...what does everyone else think?’

5. How do I give criticism without offending?

A good way to constructively criticize is to advise on improvements. It is always important to praise a group member for their input as they may have spent more time and effort than you realize generating their idea. A useful method is a ‘praise sandwich’ where you praise someone, then criticize, then praise again e.g. ‘I like what you have done with the title page, I just have one suggestion.......thank you for your work on it’. Another key point is to end on a positive note, for example, thanking the group or encouraging them.

6. What do I do if I feel like I cannot complete a task?

Always be honest! If you feel like you cannot complete a task, then you should let your group know as soon as possible so that they can make other arrangements. Your group may be able to give you advice on your task or someone may be willing to take on your task.

7. What do I do if I do not understand a task or what someone has posted?

Do not be afraid to ask for clarification. You can ask them to rephrase or to elaborate. It may be helpful here to refer to the initial objective as you will then get an explanation that fits the task.

8. How do we designate group roles?

This is entirely up to the group itself, each group is different as it is individuals that create the team dynamic as a whole so this designation of roles must be a team decision for the chosen roles to best fit the groups. You may want fixed group roles (i.e. one person takes on a set role for the entire semester), or you may want to rotate. A written and signed contract between the members will help.

9. Is there any way we can ensure that our team well organized?

This can be done by allocating one team member as the team’s organizer (this role could be conducted by the leader or you can vote. In this role, they remind people of deadlines and ensure that everyone knows exactly what they should be doing.


Jones , K. (n.d.). Online Group-Work Guidelines .