By Regina Marie Lee (13A01B)
Project Work (PW) must be the only topic that the RJ Confessions page and my Twitter timeline never seem to tire of. Because PW work submission deadlines are the same for all, you will find people commiserating about the rarity of a suitable Preliminary Idea (PI), or the terrible length of their Group Project Proposal (GPP). At times, this can be accompanied by a passive-aggressive remark about group-work issues.
While PW skills can be learnt, perhaps why PW is dreaded by most is this: your grades are contingent on your group members’ effort too. For most who prefer the significantly less risky nature of other subjects, where you can study and take tests alone, this presents a frightening vulnerability.
Nevertheless, we are not here to reconcile the existence of Project Work, but to suggest how to navigate through the experience, and coax everyone in your group to work together effectively and harmoniously. PW groupings are determined by one’s Civics and PW Tutors, and not by choice. We present to you a collection of PW groupmate caricatures, and how you can possibly work out differences as you research, discuss and craft your Group Project Proposal, Written Report and the like.
Excited Idea Generator
This is the one who can come up with numerous ideas during group discussions, often in eager excitement. He or she will be useful in getting the group pumped up for the project, but the Excited Idea Generator might require help in sifting ideas, in case they are unoriginal or unfeasible. Still, it is important that group members do not shoot down all his/her suggestions without considering it first, or it will leave the member feeling unfairly put down.
All Talk Little Action
The All Talk Little Action member is similar to the Excited Idea Generator. He or she contributes good suggestions during discussions, and you are hopeful of his or her commitment to the project. Then, the report writing begins, and your faith is shaken. He or she might tend to procrastinate at home, away from the group, after work has been delegated. When it comes to such members, it is perhaps more helpful to arrange a time to complete the various tasks, together in school or online, over Google Drive, or for the desperate, over webcam.
Meticulous to a Fault
This member will be the one calling meetings to clarify all the minute details in a project. They are useful to ensure the work is logical and coherent, but might get on everyone else’s nerves by insisting on too many discussions to debate insignificant changes to the project. If there are too many of these members in a group, productivity may suffer. A friend noted that his PW group once spent an hour’s lesson debating…on an alternative project title. Group members should encourage him or her to see the big picture, and exercise judiciousness before initiating yet another meeting.
The Tanker is heavily invested in the final product, and will volunteer (or more likely, delegate to himself/herself) a lion’s share of the work. While this helps to get work done, trouble ensues when there is a conflict of opinion. Some Tankers might be motivated by a lack of confidence in their group members’ abilities, preferring to trust themselves with all the work. While this may be more productive in the short run, groups that use their collective brainpower, building upon each others’ ideas, tend to produce more innovative and carefully considered work in the long run. Thus, it is important to demonstrate to the Tanker that other members are able to produce work of even higher calibre with collaboration.
More than Meets the Eye
This member might appear quiet or distracted during group meetings, but it is useful to suspend quick judgements on this sort. Some might merely be less confident in voicing ideas in person, but possess the ability to produce thorough research or insightful analysis during the report-writing process. As such, give your group members a fair chance to contribute.
This member does not reply emails, avoids discussions about PW work and is generally uninterested or blur. For some, it might be useful to arrange a time for the group to work together on the project in school. The library offers Think Tank Rooms for this purpose; they are equipped with laptops, a whiteboard and a projector! When delegating work, decide together on detailed tasks instead of a generic “everyone work on Draft 2”, and allow members to decide on who does what, based on their strengths and interests.
It is very possible to come together as a group by adopting different approaches to accommodate conflicting working styles – in fact, it might be a great learning experience in itself. That said, self-introspection might also come in handy: what kind of PW groupmate might you turn out to be?
The writer would like to assure her PW groupmates that the caricatures in this article are not specific to them. :)