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Handling School Group Projects Problems

Updated on February 22, 2016

You’ve settled into classes by now. Had a couple of quizzes, papers, even a series of first tests. Than your teacher or your professor mentions ever so casually, you have a group presentation coming up in a week. You know what that means…… dreaded feelings sink in, GROUP PROJECT. An assignment where you’re randomly placed into a group of “liked minded” people. Well scratch off like minded. Immediately you think back to group project horror stories, the perky anal retentive self-appointed group “leader” who felt the need to talk down to you, the group member who complains about the project before you even get started on it, much less know their name. Oh and the slacker who hands everything in last minute or does not do anything at all. Inspired by a friend who’s suffering group project problems, here are some tips and advice to help through …… the GROUP PROJECT. P.S. these tips are for both college and high school kids.

Be Assertive …. Be E Assertive!!

A big problem with groups is that no one really takes initiative. Picture this scenario: You’re in a group project where everyone in the beginning seems to glide through and have an understanding, until deadlines start to become too real. True Colors come out, when everyone is pressed for time. Members get aggressive, when all along they should’ve been assertive. One step to assertiveness is to be assertive. Get the ball rolling you don’t have to appoint yourself the leader. You do however need to figure out what needs to be done, how it is going to be done and who will be doing what. Create clear goals and objectives and assign a specific task each member can willingly commit to. Most importantly do this together as a group. When one person speaks up many will.


Along with being assertive, a big tip is communication. One of my best group project experiences was when I got placed into a group where I made the first move and emailed the group. Not only that but I continued to that throughout the project. Communication is very important so it’s wise to keep the line of communication open. Establish means of communication and stick to it. Be direct and clear. If you’re having a hard time with the project, running late or can’t make a project meeting or deadline; speak up. Let your other group members know what’s going on. Communicate with each other on progress, drawbacks and any other information vital to the project.

Common Group Project Problems

These are some common group project problems (obviously). Even so, this is also how you handle them.

Unclear Teachers and Professors

This one is pretty obvious and doesn’t need much explanation. But if you don’t understand something what do you do? Sulk and try to figure out on your own. No, why not go straight to the source and save all that time? Ask the teacher or professor to clarify what you have to do for the project. Sometimes its intimidating to even talk to your teacher or professor. But by being assertive and communicating with them, helps you. Teachers and Professors not only being paid to teach you the material but also so you can understand it.

Members Who Don't Put in a Their Fair Share of Work:

Oftentimes in group projects we are stuck in groups where someone is not doing their part and you are suck doing it for them. These problems relate back to communication problems and problems with being nonassertive and letting the person get away with being a slacker for too long. Why is it that when deadlines suddenly appear, you are suddenly so focused on getting the work done as group? Before then you’ve been focusing on your part that you’ve forgotten about your other members. You’ve let that one group member slip under the cracks. You’re not their keeper, or mother and it’s their responsibility to pull in their weight. Even so it’s also you and your other group member’s collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has it together. You don’t have to breathe down their necks but you do have to know what’s going on before the deadlines.

Last Tips and Advice

Be positive.It’s a group project, so your main focus is to learn as a student and as a team member. Think of it as a win-win situation. You’re learning how to deal with people and work as unit for a common goal. Plus your grade depends on it.

Be respectful and considerate. Respect someone’s time and efforts. Try not to keep someone waiting or hanging for that matter. On the other side try not to point out flaws and make someone feel guilty about not having it all together. We are human.

Hopefully all of this helps.

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