Risk Assessment for Group Work

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1. Personality differences. Since we did not choose our groups, there will be differences in personalities. Differences can be positive and negative. People have very strong opinions and may not want to compromise. Solution: Conflict is a natural and expected part of group interaction, with positive, as well as negative effects. No matter what the personality type, we must engage them in conversation and still express that this is a group effort. Loud or quiet, everyone must have an equal voice in the content of the project. Be sure to give everyone in the group a voice and take mutual responsibility for both the positive and negative.

2. Missed deadlines. These have an impact on others completing their part of the assignment – This can be for many different reasons. Group members may resist doing activities they perceive to be irrelevant to the overall goal or objective they envisioned when joining the group. Even those who go ahead and do the activities may feel resentful.

Solution: We can request that each member write a quick synopsis of what they have completed for the week. Everyone must know what is expected and if their update is in no way associated with the weekly task, we can redirect their attention at that time. If someone doesn’t want to complete a task, this will be evident in discussion and that task will have to quickly reassign to another member of the group.

3. Loafing. The loafer is the most commonly cited disadvantage of group work. This is when a member does not contribute to the group, +and therefore decreases the group’s ability to perform to their full potential. In many cases, this may damage the morale of the other members of the group and cause resentment.

Solution: Use open reminders during the assignment. Group members who seem to be loafing should be encouraged by the other members to ‘pull their weight’. We need to remind regularly – not just near a deadline, when it may be too late. Contact the team member by email or other means to find out if they are on track with their assigned work if the group hasn’t heard from them.

4. Blending different writing styles. Group projects require that member’s portions blend at compilation. This can be difficult because of word selection, writing style, and intellectual levels are different. This can potentially leave someone feeling their portion was less important or less accurate. The whole idea of group papers is to have a paper written that flows as if one person completed it. Further problems surface when individual team members dislike the editing of their work.

Solution: Editing is essential to the improvement of the paper. Members must be tactful with their remarks and responses. Whenever possible, input suggestions and allow the writer to change their own portion of the project. Give specific guidance and examples instead of vague remarks to help pinpoint areas of improvement and help the author to understand how to improve particular parts rather than general criticism.

5. Disagreements. When group members disagree the worst thing is to stop communicating. Online sessions promote withdrawal. There is no need to be deliberately obstructive, or criticize work, endlessly debate small points, or refuse to contribute at all. Instead, work on the problem so that the group doesn’t waste their energy on conflict resolution. Some members may become passive and they let the dominant team members do the work.

Solution: Define the roles as well as the tasks. Provide guidelines for team-member roles, and describe actions for each member of the group to take. Get it out in the open. Then, develop a productive solution. Everyone in the group must be involved in seeking a solution. Practice democratic decision making, but this should not take a lot of time. There must be a deadline on the discussion and a final decision must be just that, final.

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