How to be a good group member

Having done my fair share of group assignments, I can tell you – it ain’t easy and it’s the ultimate test of your sanity.

Group assignments aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. In fact – I know of people who go out of their way to avoid subjects with group assignments.

But you know, good things have miraculously come out of group assignments (I know, I’m surprised too). When I was studying abroad in Peru, I was lucky to have been paired up with a great partner and we managed to work together to bring alpacas to our class presentation.

A rare example of a good group assignment
2 alpacas and 1 happy class

It took a bit of planning and negotiating with staff to get permission to bring two alpacas to our university in Peru – but we pulled it off.

2015-04-19 22_06_27
The hardest part of the assignment was actually getting the alpacas to uni

Looking back at this rare successful group assignment, and the bad ones I’ve done over my degree, here are some pointers on how to be a good sport when it comes to group assignments.

Be flexible

Finding a mutual free time for group meetings when you’re working in large groups of 6-8 people is ridiculously hard. It’s challenging to work around everyone’s busy schedules, and sometimes you may be stuck with a group meeting time that is extremely inconvenient. Reality is, you can’t please everyone and you need to be flexible and be willing to make some sacrifices.

Turn up to group meetings

There is nothing more frustrating when you spend all that time organising a time for your group meeting, and people don’t show up. For someone who commutes 1.5hrs to uni, sometimes just for group meetings, you can imagine how frustrating it is when people cancel at the last minute/don’t show up at all.

But hey, sometimes life has other plans and people legitimately can’t make the meeting or they’re running late. In this case – it’s always good to swap phone numbers and let your group member know as soon as you can.

Check and respond to emails

Communication is key to pulling off a good group assignment. Do your part by checking and responding to your emails/facebook messages etc. and responding in a timely manner.

Actually do the work, and do it on time

It’s extremely unfair to other people in the group if you don’t put the time or effort into your part of the assignment. For example – when there’s a group meeting to discuss the readings, do the readings and contribute to the discussion.

Or if you’re responsible for putting together the slides for group presentation, you know, actually do it and don’t turn up on the day of the presentation with no slides to present. Which leads to my next point…

Be honest

If you haven’t done the work you’re suppose to do, fess up to your group members, and do it before the day that it’s due. I know I’d rather have someone be honest and say they haven’t done it/don’t have time to do it so can do it and we all don’t fail.

Offer to help your group members

If you notice other members in your group having difficulty with their part of the assignment, help them out!

There may be people in your group who aren’t native English speakers, who would really appreciate your help. You could offer your help to edit their work, or if it’s an oral presentation – you could offer to help practice their speaking parts etc.

And finally,


Group assignments are painful enough. Play nice and do the work.

– Daphane

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