This module focuses on strategies and techniques for effective group project planning to help your group stay on track and meet deadlines. This includes identifying and negotiating roles, learning about tools and approaches that can help you plan effectively, as well as highlighting resources to help your group with key academic skills, like research and writing, which are commonly integral to the group project planning process.
Students may benefit from using this module in tandem with the recently launched Student Project Toolkit.
Understand Your Assignment
- Review group assignment objectives and instructions to determine the purpose of the assignment and what you are being asked to do
- Identify assignment elements such as percentage of final grade, due date, etc. and review any provided rubric to help set priorities
- Connect with your professor or TA to provide clarity around the assignment as questions arise
- Consult our Understanding Your Group Assignment Checklist to help you record the main requirements of your group assignment.
Tools & Templates
Identify Group Roles & Tasks
- Use the assignment requirements to identify group tasks and review any guidelines regarding group roles or tasks that might be included
- Identify what academic integrity conventions apply to the group project. When the rules are not clearly stated, ask your instructor for clarification
- Identify the strengths and interests of individual group members (see the Understanding the Team module and especially the Self-Reflective Team Communication Exercise and Group Inventory Tool)
- Determine which form of group leadership best suits your group. Will there be one facilitator or leader or will this role rotate?
- Identify the scope of the roles and decide which are best handled by individuals, and which by more than one person as they may be more work-intensive
- How roles are divided depends on your context and the size of your group. For example, in a small group, one person may need to take on multiple roles
- Identify and negotiate other group member roles, e.g., facilitator, note taker, time keeper, devil’s advocate, and checker/editor. Consult our Guide to Group Roles & Maximizing Performance
- Remember that when you take on a role, you need to take ownership for making sure associated tasks are completed; however this does not necessarily mean you do everything. Your role may be to coordinate and work with other team members to make sure the work gets done
Tools & Templates
- Work backwards from the assignment due date(s) to map out deadlines and tasks. See our Tasks Planning Tool Template and Tasks Planning Tool Sample
- Engage in microtasking or chunking out tasks to meet the larger goal of completing the group project on time. Identify and document specific tasks to be accomplished, using the steps outlined in Understand your Assignment
- Negotiate and document who will work on each task based on strengths, interests, availability etc.
- Be mindful of each other’s schedules and save time by using calendaring or polling tools available to you through York or freely available online. See our Communication & Planning Tools Guide
- Schedule several group check-ins to stay on track and make modifications as your project progresses
- Collaborate to undertake tasks that require academic and process-based skills common in group projects, such as research, writing, note-taking, presentation, and digital media skills
- Remember to document the sources that you consult and reference them using a consistent bibliographic style. See our Creating Bibliographies SPARK module for APA, Chicago, & MLA style overviews
Tools & Templates
Use Planning Tools
- Use collaborative project implementation and planning tools available to you as a York student or other free cloud-based tools. See our Communication & Planning Tools Guide
- Provide opportunities for group members to identify their technological constraints and work with tools accessible to the whole group
- Recognize that some group members may be less familiar with technology or may have less access to computing resources or to a reliable internet connection
- Remember that not everyone will be able to work remotely from a comfortable, private, and quiet space
- Use both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (non-simultaneous) approaches as they suit different needs (e.g., group members may be in different time zones)
- Citation management tools are also useful to keep track of sources that the group has consulted and to generate in-text citations and reference lists for the group project. See the Libraries’ guides to Zotero and Mendeley for options you can use