One of the main differences University of Nebraska High School graduates encounter when going to college online or on-campus is the inclusion of group work throughout their courses.

Throughout this series of articles, we are exploring the characteristics successful college students have as well as the challenges they face when entering post-secondary education. We are also providing suggestions from University of Nebraska campus experts about specific skills you can work to acquire now.

No matter what form your group work assignment takes, according to UNHS Academic Adviser Debby Bartz, success with group work is about:

  • Discussion
  • Debate
  • Dissection
  • Delegation

Bartz suggests the following in terms of logistics:

  • Get organized—set roles and goals for each member and the project as a whole
  • Stay focused—review goals and deadlines as a group consistently throughout the project
  • Review and evaluate—make sure as a group that you are meeting the expected outcomes of the assignment

As for your individual performance:

  • Show respect and patience for group opinions and ideas
  • Be creative and share your ideas
  • Be a team player
  • Use critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Question and expect supporting evidence
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Be responsible and make timely contributions

In many ways the online environment can make group work extra challenging in terms of logistics. Much of the communication is done via e-mail or discussion boards, so be sure to stay connected. Gloria Vavricka, Director of University of Nebraska Kearney’s eCampus, also emphasized the importance of writing clearly.

"When doing group work, it is important that students communicate clearly to each other as to what exactly is to be done, who is responsible for getting it done and what the deadline is."
Gloria

Your group may also consider setting up times to chat online to make sure you stay on the same page. As a student whose goal it is to be successful academically, you may need to step up and organize these types of meetings.

“Group work can only be successful if all members are committed to the group assignment or project and do their fair share,” said Dr. Bob Mathiasen, College Academic Adviser for University of Nebraska–Lincoln Online and Distance Education. “Treat the other members with respect, but if you need to, step up and be the leader. Your grade depends on it.