How to Be Productive on Group Assignments

Some people love group work; some people hate it. I found in my experience in college and also in my company, no matter how much of a pain it is when someone isn't carrying his or her weight, this problem is never going to go away. There will always be circumstances in your life where someone doesn't pull through, so you're better off learning how to deal with it now.

Here are some tips to get through group projects:

- Don't team up with your best friends: Partnering up with your friends for a grade has drama written all over it. If one of you isn't pulling his or her weight, it's going to put strain on your relationship even when the project is over.

Plus, hanging out and talking about unrelated topics will probably hinder your progress on the project. Keep your friends separate from your grades.

- Establish goals: As soon as your group is assigned, have a meeting with all of the group members. Decide how you're going to communicate: group email or a Facebook group. Make sure everyone has each other's cell numbers too.

Create a timeline for your project and break it down into separate goals and deadlines. This strategy will prevent procrastination until last minute.

- Give people roles: During your initial meeting, discuss what the strengths and weaknesses are of the group members. If someone is better at design then he or she is at writing, have that person design the power point. If another member is good at researching but poor at presenting, have that person take the lead of research and give them a smaller role in the presentation.

Giving someone a specific role gives he or she more of a sense of responsibility. When you feel responsible for a part of the project, you're more likely to do it and do it well.

- Practice, practice, practice: Most group projects end with a presentation. Don't be that group that decides who's going to say what as they're loading their PowerPoint in front of the classroom. Meet the night before or even before that and run through it at least three times.

Make it fun by splitting a pizza to ensure people will show up.

Try not to use flashcards. They can be distracting and you look more prepared if you talk from memory.

- If someone is slacking: I once had a group member that I didn't even know the name of until the day of our presentation. Needless to say, I didn't put his name on the presentation. Don't be afraid to be the one to turn someone in. If someone in the group didn't do their part, start by confronting them.

"Hey (person's name), myself and the rest of the group would really like to hit this project out of the park. I feel that you haven't been keeping up with (insert role here) like we asked you to. If you don't have (insert task here) sent to me by Friday, I'm afraid I'll have to inform (insert professor name here). Thanks for understanding!"

This doesn't mean you're mean or 'bossy.' It means you can delegate and you're not going to hand someone a good grade that doesn't deserve it. It's important to give honest reviews in group projects, which is why you shouldn't be in groups with friends. Usually teachers will have a peer review part at the end. Be honest with the review if someone didn't pull their weight even after you confronted them about it.