An element of group work is part of most university programmes. However regardless as to whether you quite like working with your classmates or run away at the mere mention, there are undeniably always problems within groups. Big or small these inevitabilities are associated with conflicting schedules, personalities, commitments, abilities, and priorities.
The Master’s of Bioentrepreneurship has a lot of group work. A lot. Its worth mentioning, if you don’t like group work. This Master’s is not for you!
So far, on this programme I’ve worked with seven different project groups. So, from experience, here are six honest truths about group work at KI:
1. You will have a falling out
It’s inevitable. Our groups are chosen so that we have a different combination of skills, experience and expertise. But that doesn’t mean you are meant to be friends. Group work can fire up people’s frustrations and you might find yourself arguing over what size font you want to use…….
2. You will feel like you´re doing all the work
This will probably be the main reason for the aforementioned ‘falling out.’ The freeloader effect common in every kind of group work. There always seems to be one person who thinks its absolutely ok to disappear until the day before the deadline to contribute their name to the final report.
Each group dynamic is different. And you will probably take on a different role in each. However chances are at some point you will find yourself as ‘final editor’ waiting around until 2 in the morning for someone else’s part to come in.
3. You will question your sanity
Of course, I don’t want to be dramatic but I think there has been a few times I had to ask Is this all worth it? Like when the group decides the only time we can meet is 8am on your only day off. Or when you wake up to 30 million calls/text and emails from the group chats. Or when everyone will just not stop talking long enough to make any actual decisions.
BUT after everything……
4. You will make some friends
We do not choose the groups we work with. Our groups have been decided by design (based on background and experience), random (based on the order we signed up) and through personality tests (we were matched based on Myers-Briggs indicators).
Basically it means each group has been different and you will find yourself working with people you have never spoken to before. But what better way to get to know your classmates than being forced to spend extended amounts of time together?
5. You will learn something
I’ll be honest I have questioned the learning objectives a few times. Our syllabus claims group work puts ‘high demands on the students’ ability to plan, coordinate and perform.’ For me, the most valuable thing about group work is approaching problems from different perspectives. I often have different approaches to my classmates but by discussing and analysing each other opinions we can come to the best solution. .
6. You will be prepared for the future
Let’s be honest, group/team work is a part of life. There are few career paths that involve no social interaction what so ever. And most jobs involve working with large and interdisciplinary teams. To quote from my alumni interviewee:
“It (group work) was really valuable to learn how to gage different ‘social and work styles’ during these projects which really helps once you are confronted with similar personality types in the real world.” Andrew McDonnel MBE Graduate 2015
My classmates Camilla, Shiva, Paula and Haytham having a terrible time for their group project 😉
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